Chicago-based Jim Bachor is an accomplished art director with several Fortune 500 companies in his portfolio. Clients ranging from John Deere to the Brookfield Zoo have looked to Bachor to create highly successful graphically-driven strategic marketing campaigns. In this part of his life, Bachor has used paper, ink and pixels to create art with a purpose.
For his personal art, however, Jim Bachor chooses mosaic. He employs the same labor-intensive techniques and design principles that drove ancient mosaic-makers to graphically explore decidedly contemporary questions. The result? Timely, cheeky and always intelligent takes on the great American zeitgeist that play concept against medium.
His Evidence series is a great example of this juxtaposition of subject matter and the matter used to explore the subject. Here, Bachor looks at American consumerism – or the ephemeral nature of the “things” that define us – through a medium that is the very antithesis of ephemeral.
One can just imagine an archeologist patiently sweeping away millenia of detritus to uncover a Roman patrician draped in Burberry or a gladiator clad in Nike. Bachor’s “Evidence“ series facilitates some great mental chuckles followed by musings that are existential. What parts of us will last? What has real value for us? What will we be remembered for?
From Bachor’s artist statement:
Trying to leave your mark in this world fascinates me. Ancient history fascinates me. Working on an archaeological dig in Pompeii in 2001 melded these two interests for me when I discovered mosaics. In the ancient world, mosaics were used to capture images of everyday life. Those colorful pieces of stone or glass set in mortar are the photographs of empires long past. They do not fade.
Recently, while the American public raged over the introduction of “pink slime” into the food chain, Jim Bachor was putting the finishing touches to the second mosaic in his “Fresh Meat” series, Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts.
The “Fresh Meat” series juxtaposes the unstable, ever-changing nature of the subject matter with the near indestructible character of the mosaic technique. It captures something today that will certainly look – and be – very different tomorrow.
Bachor has a special affinity for early Christian mosaics. Here, in his “Patron Saints of Chicago” series, he employs the iconic Byzantine design element of a halo to portraits of two infamous local politicians.
Again, Bachor uses a timeless medium to ask questions about how these men will be perceived in the future. Will they be remembered as saints or sinners?
As we said before, Bachor’s work is often characterized by his lovely, cheeky sense of humor. In his “Holy” series, the artist forces us to think about how we glorify and fetishize items which are, in fact, merely consumable commodities.
When is a hamburger more than just a hamburger? Or a cupcake more than a cupcake? Or water more than just water? More important, how did we get here? Bachor’s background as an art director is surely a great source of inspiration for these works. He is also the devoted (read “totally smitten”) father of twin sons. We can’t help but imagine that these mosaics are also the product his struggles as a parent helping his children learn to make good decisions for themselves.
Bachor is also not above taking a pretty good pot shot at himself . . .
. . . or riffing on an icon from the world of fine art painting to take a mosaic pot shot at the art “establishment.”
Come to think of it, This Is Not A Craft would look quite fetching on MAN’s business cards . . .
Jim Bachor is a thoughtful, intelligent and insightful artist who has chosen mosaic as his medium to explore existential themes. We keep wondering why some gallerist hasn’t snapped him up. Maybe after reading this, someone will.
Enjoy – Nancie
Mid-century mosaic mania continues on MAN this week with an article written by our own Miss Marble, Lillian Sizemore. Here, the mosaic super-sleuth applies her years of research into mosaic genealogy to ferret out the possible origins of an unsigned work she discovered while strolling through the great city of Milan.
To recap: On Monday, MAN reprinted an article by Dr. Ilona Jesnick from the British Association for Modern Mosaic’s journal,” Andamento”, profiling the Father of Modern Mosaics, Gino Severini. (here) On Wednesday, we Tweeted a link to an excellent article published by The Eichler Network in their journal CA Modern: “Art in Pieces” on modern mosaics in which both Sizemore and artist Sonia King were featured. (here) Sizemore contributed a great deal of the research and photographs used in this must-read article.
All in all, this week has served as a great “primer” for modern mosaics. Expect to see more on this genre here on MAN in the months to come.
Enjoy – Nancie
WE DECLARE: That all subjects previously used must be swept aside in order to express our whirling life of steel, of pride, of fever and of speed.
— from The Futurist Manifesto, 1909
While strolling in the swank Monte Napoleone neighborhood of Milan, Italy near the Centro Storico, I spotted this dynamic glass mural in an apartment courtyard. I was drawn in by the radiant central core, a throbbing abstract heart full of love and angst. I immediately recognized it’s mastery. I felt instinctively that it was reminiscent of the early Italian contemporary mosaic movement launched by Futurist, Gino Severini (1883-1966) and his protogé, abstract painter Ricardo Licata (b. 1929). The mosaic is reminiscent of the Futurist’s restless style, the love of speed, movement, noise, and bold color. I suggest the piece was made between 1957 and 1959. Here’s why…
The company of S. Sgorlon Mosaici was based out of Friuli, Italy. That’s where the famous “Spilembergo School” of mosaic educational lineage is based. Mosaici Sgorlon were active in Milan in the 1950′s and executed enormous mosaic and glass projects mainly for churches in Northern Italy. I found a company brochure from 1953 for sale on eBay.
Within the mosaic laboratories working with the apprenticeship tradition, often produce accomplished masters who “graduate” and go on to start their own atelier, such as Luigi Bevilacqua, who trained in the Sgorlon lab in the 1950′s. The mosaic trade is historically passed through generations, between family members and brothers. In this case, the ‘S.’ of S. Sgorlon could stand for either Silvio or Secondo, both recorded on the family roster, and who might have been father and son, or younger and older brothers. The terms “Primo” (First) and “Secondo” (Second) are similar to “Senior” and “Junior” and also the first and second brothers born in a family are sometimes named just that. These terms are also endogenic identifiers used within apprenticeships, brotherhoods or craft guilds.
Most exciting for me was following the breadcrumbs to discover that Licata became Severini’s assistant in 1957, at Severini’s École d’Art Italienne in Paris.
The “mystery” mural measures about 8 ft x 15 ft. and though the work is not dated, Severini was very active in the mosaic movement in the mid-fifties, even hosting a conference on the history of mosaics in Ravenna. As shown in the photos above, the graphic icon would indicate that Licata was the designer, and Sgorlon signature indicates they executed the mosaic. At this time in mosaic history, it was de riguer to have a well-known artist design the “bozetto” or cartoon and work in close collaboration with a respected mosaic laboratory to render the work. Here is Renée Antoine’s French mosaic blog that features many of Licata’s signature mosaics from a 2009 exhibition and the shapes are very similar.
Mysterious mosaics, the story unfolds… Perhaps a wealthy industrialist commissioned the work for his apartment building? What do you think?
If you have any further information on the Sgorlons or this mosaic, please leave a comment below!
“Nella maggior parte dei casi, le forme piatte, in mosaico, sono un nonsenso. Tutto dipende però dalla formazione intellettuale e spirituale del mosaicista-artista che concepisce il cartone e prende a dirigere l’esecuzione.”
“In most cases, the flat forms, in mosaic, are nonsense. Everything depends on the intellectual and spiritual development of the mosaicist-artist who conceives the design and directs its execution.”
— Gino Severini, from “An Introduction on the Lessons of Mosaic” presented at the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris.
- This article is an undated version of one which appeared originally in July 2010 on Sizemore’s blog, http://sfmosaic.wordpress.com/ We highly recommend it. The woman is always coming up with interesting takes on mosaics and the world around her.
He likened the way a mosaicist works to how Cezanne selected brush strokes for his masterful paintings. He was a founding member of the Futurist movement and mingled with the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Modigliani and Cocteau. He was a philosopher, writing papers and tracts on mosaic that explore the intersections between the art, its physical components and the soul of the maker.
Gino Severini (1883 – 1966) is called “The Father of Modern Mosaic.” Find out why in this thoroughly engaging and well researched paper by Ilona Jesnick originally published in the 6th edition of Andamento, the journal of the British Association for Modern Mosaic (BAMM).
BTW, we are now in our second reading of this edition of Andamento which we wolfed down in the first pass. More of what we loved:
- Charles Lutyens: Angels of the Heavenly Host – An Epiphany in St Paul’s Church, Bow
- Katie Hellon: A brilliant and complex collaboration – The Hans Unger-Eberhard Schulze Mosaic Studio
- Pierre Palayan: The Reredos of St Paul’s Catherdral, Melbourne – Nineteeth-Century ‘Medieval Art’ in Australia
Great writing. Wonderful illustrations. Buy it here. Better yet, consider becoming a member of this BAMM.
Have any thoughts on Gino Severini? Why not share them with fellow MAN readers and Comment below?
Enjoy – Nancie
We are thrilled to announce that Apple’s iPad App of the Year, Flipboard, has added Mosaic Art NOW to its Art World section.
Designed for the iPad and iPhone, Flipboard creates an elegant, personalized magazine from everything being shared with you through your personal social media contacts AND your pick of hundreds of magazines, newspapers, blogs, and museums, etc. Think MOMA, W Magazine, House Beautiful, ABC News, Cool Hunting, and Handful of Salt all right at your fingertips.
Flipboard has created a custom link just for MAN: http://flipbd.it/mosaicartnow. This link will take anyone with an iPad or iPhone with Flipboard already installed directly to MAN’s page. If you don’t already have Flipboard installed, that same link will take you to the app.
Flipboard is sleek, easy to install, visually stunning and one of Time’s Top 50 Innovations. MAN is thrilled to be in the company of some of the most exciting art media on the web.
Flipboard tells us that MAN’s unique blend of quality, mosaic related content and curation of general art world items is just what they’re looking for. Thank you, Flipboard!
The Patricia Scott Art Gallery in Bennett Hall at Ohio University-Chillicothe recently hosted an exhibit of 20 mosaics by 96-year-old retired chemist and mosaic hobbyist Phil Evanoff.
The exhibit was but a small, representative sample of Mr. Evanoff’s oeuvre comprised of over 625 mosaics – each a recreation of an image Evanoff has selected through both research and serendipity.
Evanoff’s sources of inspiration are a testament to the man’s curious mind and appraising eye.
Native American woodcuts, Bulgarian icon cards, personal photographs, Egyptian hieroglyphics, the placemat from a restaurant, the paintings of van Gogh, the label from a bottle of sherry consumed in Cordoba, Spain – all of these images have struck the fancy of Evanoff who has lovingly recreated each of them in tile, glass, stone and shells.
Evenoff’s first mosaic was, fittingly, “Two Bisons” (above), a reproduction of a portion of the cave paintings in Lascaux, France. Today, he admits that his work is getting a bit sloppy; he is blind in one eye and half blind in the other.
Evanoff”s mosaic technique is straight-forward, simple and appropriate for his subject matter which, for the most part, is highly illustrative.
Phil Evanoff knows what he likes and he knows what he does well. He choses his subject matter accordingly. He has made mosaics for over 50 years for the sheer joy of it. The result is fresh, appealing, and utterly charming mosaic art. Bravo.
Mr. Evanoff came to our attention through an Associated Press article written by David Berman. We highly recommend that you read the article to learn more about this very lovely man – there is much more to the story than we are telling here. Simply click here. Our thanks to Mr. Berman for putting us in touch with Evanoff’s son, Phil, who supplied both photographs and additional information.
Enjoy – Nancie