Art & Design

Mercedes-Benz is synonymous with design and innovation.

Mercedes-Benz is synonymous with design and innovation; this is brought to life via our various partnerships within art and design.

Mercedes-Benz has been associated with the National Gallery of Victoria for over 10 years and is proud to be a principal partner to various exhibitions.

A celebration of design form and function, the Mercedes-Benz Design Award seeks to kickstart designers career by giving them the opportunity to have their winning design produced by local retail designers.

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On the streets of 1980s New York at the NGV

December 2019

The National Gallery of Victoria’s (NGV) summer exhibition shines a spotlight on the artistic friendship between two great contemporary artists, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, who drew their inspiration from the streets of the Big Apple.

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On the streets of 1980s New York at the NGV

December 2019

The National Gallery of Victoria’s (NGV) summer exhibition shines a spotlight on the artistic friendship between two great contemporary artists, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, who drew their inspiration from the streets of the Big Apple.

Installation view of Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines at NGV International

Installation view of Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines at NGV International, 1 December 2019 – 13 April 2020 © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York © Keith Haring Foundation. Photo: Tom Ross.
 

Those who adore both art and popular contemporary culture are in for a treat this summer at the NGV’s exclusive premier exhibition of Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines, with Mercedes-Benz as principal partner.

The exhibition, a world exclusive to Melbourne, presents the work of two of the most influential artists of the late 20th century. The large-scale event (from 1 December 2019 to 13 April 2020) explores both artists’ visual languages and the many intersections between their lives during their prolific years living and working in New York City.

At the media preview of the exhibition, Mercedes-Benz CEO & Managing Director Horst von Sanden noted that the two artists have influenced other creatives and audiences around the world for the past three decades. “Changing society doesn’t happen overnight. It takes vision and ambition,” he said. Von Sanden went on to highlight how the Mercedes-Benz strategy is grounded on ambitions for a new carbon-neutral car fleet by 2039.  

Installation view of Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines at NGV International

Installation view of Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines at NGV International, 1 December 2019 – 13 April 2020 © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York © Keith Haring Foundation. Photo: Tom Ross.

Tony Ellwood, director of the NGV, pointed to the influence of the streets and contemporary 1980s culture on Haring and Basquiat. He explored how Basquiat’s work makes statements on race, consumerism and politics, while Haring examines the democratisation of art, race and social justice. “They shared an interest in language and society,” said Ellwood.

Both artists were also influenced by technology, and the New York pop culture and music scene. For instance, they embraced the then-revolutionary technology of the Xerox photocopying machine for collages. They were also both regulars in the city’s nightclub scene, an aspect that is explored via a room dedicated to polaroid images of the artists and their contemporaries, including the likes of pop music artists Madonna and Debbie Harry, in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  

Installation view of Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines at NGV International

Installation view of Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines at NGV International, 1 December 2019 – 13 April 2020 © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York © Keith Haring Foundation. Photo: Tom Ross.

In addition to large-scale works, the exhibition features Basquiat’s notebooks and Haring’s journals. These offer a unique insight into each of their approaches and how language and words influenced their works.

Visit Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines (1 December 2019 to 13 April 2020) and enter the competition to win an exclusive luxury weekend on the Bellarine Peninsula in the dynamic Mercedes-Benz GLE.

Words Lucy Siebert

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Sarah & Sebastian design the CLA Mood Ring.

September 2019

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Sarah & Sebastian design the CLA Mood Ring.

September 2019

CLA Mood Ring

When dynamic jewellery designers Sarah & Sebastian laid eyes on the new Mercedes-Benz CLA Coupé, they found all the inspiration they needed to design and create a mood ring in its honour.

The powerful stance and elegant silhouette of the second generation of the CLA, a compact four-door coupé, left an indelible impression upon the pair.

“It’s a sporty, sexy car, but it’s not overstated,” muses Robert Sebastian Grynkofki, one half of Sarah & Sebastian. “It has that really subtle energy. It’s just a beautiful car.”

Sarah Gittoes found herself immediately drawn to the ‘diamond’ grille. “I studied gemology and I’m always looking at gemstones, so I loved being able to interpret that diamond-cut feature into the mood stone that we used in the ring,” she says.

“The specific process was first of all looking at the car and appreciating the design and the shape and the form of the car, and then translating that into a piece that Robert and I would both appreciate.”

Adds Robert: “We brought the stone in as tight as we can to really have that compact but sporty elegant look.

“Both of us really strive for perfection. It’s not about just being showy. It’s about having a detail that sometimes you see on a second look and you say, ‘that’s really well made, I appreciate how that’s finished, I appreciate the quality’.”

The mantra for the CLA Coupé is ‘play by your own rules’, an ethos Mercedes-Benz embraced when it designed the world’s first four-door coupé, the CLS, which provided the design direction for the smaller CLA that followed.

It speaks volumes to a duo who founded their partnership on encouraging refined self-expression through the principles of understated luxury and avant-garde innovation.

“I think it’s important to play by your own rules – it gives you a drive and freedom,” Sarah asserts.

Robert adds: “Playing by your own rules means to question things and not just take them as they are because that’s how they used to be. You don’t have to break every rule, but I think it’s important to question it.”

He says Mercedes-Benz is the perfect partner for such a collaboration as the CLA-inspired mood ring. “Mercedes stands for quality of design and understated elegance. We love the design philosophy that Mercedes stands for.

“This ring is absolutely unique; every little detail is considered and that’s why I think it’s such a good synergy between both brands. Both of us really strive for perfection and innovation.

“Without innovation you just stand still. Where’s the excitement in that?”

 

CLA Mood Ring
CLA Mood Ring
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An immersive new exhibition at TarraWarra Museum of Art

July 2019

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An immersive new exhibition at TarraWarra Museum of Art

July 2019

An immersive new exhibition at TarraWarra Museum of Art

The TarraWarra Museum of Art sits in an enviable location in the Yarra Valley, surrounded by lush green hills and sloping vineyards. “I always feel like there’s more than one exhibition at TarraWarra,” observes the gallery’s director, Victoria Lynn. “There’s the exhibition outside the museum, in the natural landscape, and then there’s the exhibition inside as well.”  

 

It’s this relationship between art and place that inspired the museum’s 2019 International Series exhibition, The Tangible Trace, which runs until September 1. The exhibition showcases the works of six contemporary artists, who focus on the idea of a trace as the residue of a place, situation or memory. 

 

Lynn, the curator of the exhibition, was initially inspired by local artist Sangeeta Sandrasegar, who primarily works with shadows. After being approached by Lynn, Sandrasegar developed a piece called What falls from view to interact specifically with the museum space.

She constructed hand-dyed fabrics to hang over the windows that welcome visitors when they enter the museum, which cast changing colours and shadows on the walls, depending on the time of day. These “traces” change your impression of the view from outside.


"She combines this with the wonderful music that you hear when you walk in [Ross Edwards’s Symphony No. 1 ‘Da Pacem Domine’], which gives you an emotive relationship to the space," explains Lynn. "I gradually built the other artists around this concept.”

An immersive new exhibition at TarraWarra Museum of Art

'TarraWarra International 2019: The Tangible Trace' installation view featuring Francis Alÿs in collaboration with Julien Devaux, Rafael Ortega, Alejandro Morales, and Felix Blume. Paradox of Praxis 5: Sometimes we dream as we live & sometimes we live as we dream, Ciudad Juárez, México 2013. © Francis Alÿs. Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner. Image: Andrew Curtis.

Those artists include Mexico-based Belgian artist Francis Alÿs, whose simple but powerful video installation Paradox of Praxis 5: Sometimes we dream as we live & sometimes we live as we dream, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico follows the artist as he kicks a flaming soccer ball through the streets of Ciudad Juárez at night, leaving sparks of fire in his wake. This city is one of the most dangerous places in the world, and Alÿs uses his idle wanderings to juxtapose the act of play with the violence of place.

 

A second video installation by Iraqi-Kurdish artist Hiwa K is called Pre-Image (Blind as the Mother Tongue). For 17 minutes, the artist retraces the journey he took from Athens to Rome when he arrived as a refugee 25 years ago. But it’s a journey with a difference – he balances a long stick covered with motorcycle mirrors on his nose as he walks, meaning he can only be guided by the fragments or traces he glimpses in the reflection. 

 

Singapore-born artist Simryn Gill has two works that focus on the interplay between nature and man. The first, a series of photographs and prints called Passing Through, showcases an abandoned beachside hotel in Malaysia that is slowly being reclaimed by nature. While wandering the beach near this hotel, Gill collected objects that washed ashore, like terracotta bricks eroded by the pressure of the waves. These found objects have been catalogued to form her second piece, Domino Theory. 


And finally, Carlos Capelán and Shilpa Gupta have contributed works that were commissioned especially for the exhibition. Uruguay-born Capelán, who sought political asylum in Sweden in the 1970s and has since lived in several countries, views himself as a global citizen and produces work themed around displacement and identity. His Tangible Trace series of paintings, titled Implosion, are inspired by geometric abstractism and depict the ghostly outlines of faces and bodies.

An immersive new exhibition at TarraWarra Museum of Art

Carlos Capelán. Completely Solid Object (Living Room) 2019. From the Implosion series. Synthetic polymer paint on canvas. 132 x 179 cm. Courtesy the artist. Image: Christel Lundberg.

Gupta, who is representing India at this year's Venice Biennale, likes to challenge the notion of geographical borders. Her first piece, Map Tracing #7, is a map of Australia made out of copper tubing, which is bent into a dysfunctional shape that isn't immediately recognisable as a map. Her second piece, The markings we have made on this land have increased the distance so much, is a fractured rectangle of concrete engraved in English, Chinese, Hindi and Arabic. In the final days of the exhibition, visitors will be invited to take a piece of this work to keep.

 

"The idea is that they can take a trace of the exhibition with them," Lynn explains. "So by the end of the exhibition, the work will have disappeared, but it will live on in people's homes."

 

Since it officially opened in its current location in 2003, the TarraWarra Museum of Art has hosted work from renowned contemporary artists such as Janet Laurence, Allora & Calzadilla, and Cao Fei. This year, it is the Victorian venue for the Archibald Prize from September 14 to November 5.


Visit TarraWarra International 2019: The Tangible Trace from 8 June to 1 September. Guided tours are available on Thursdays at 11am and Saturdays at 2pm and 3pm.

Words Emily Tatti

 

Top: 'TarraWarra International 2019: The Tangible Trace' installation view featuring Simryn Gill. Passing Through 2017–ongoing. Courtesy the artist; Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai; Tracy Williams Ltd, New York and Utopia Art, Sydney. Image: Andrew Curtis.