Art and music collide in a beautifully explosive Steinway & Sons collaboration that showcases the Spirio piano in a new light.
The Steinway Commission pairs visual artists with Steinway musicians to create unique works of art that reflect their collaborative vision and process. This three year project makes its debut with a Steinway Spirio piano that has been given the Mark Bradford & Robert Glasper touch. In Apollo/Still Shining the Spirio (a high resolution player piano) undergoes a physical transformation that leaves the piano with the appearance of an instrument set ablaze, singed with flames that lash at the mahogany. In lieu of the Steinway’s classic black lacquered gloss, Apollo’s surface takes on rich matte finish with a gilded gold tones.
Bradford extends his artistic process by creating chemical alchemy with paper and pigment that imprints the piano with a sepia toned topography that is reminiscent of some of his late 2015 works. While much of the work he created between 2014-2015 focused on the body, his innovative use of materials and process takes this work in a new direction. With Apollo, Bradford leaves behind a mysterious shell of a form that begs to be uncovered.
When I saw this piano I knew it had a story to tell.
Apollo is brought to life and given a voice in a melodic tale composed by jazz pianist and legendary producer Robert Glasper. In Still Shining Glasper guides the listener on an emotional journey through waves of happiness, melancholy and despair. The movements vacillate between light moments of whimsy to a manic, middle passage where chaotic chords of dissonance eventually give way to light, melodic notes of promise and hopefulness. It is a cinematically sharp piece that harmonizes with Bradford’s Apollo to tell a complete story that manages to leave room for individual interpretation. When I see Mark Bradford’s work my view is always heavily influenced by the cultural context that surrounds me at that given moment.
The first time I experienced Bradford’s “Scorched Earth” (2006), I learned about the Tulsa Race Riots of 1921. When I last saw the same piece at the Broad in the summer of 2015, I was reminded of the anniversaries of the Watts Rebellion and the L.A. Riots of 1965 and 1992. In many respects, the tragic results following each of these incidents remained the same, yet the circumstances, dynamics and characteristics differ. With Apollo/Still Rising, the two artists tap into universal feelings of turmoil, social struggle and the desire to emerge from those challenges stronger and more resilient. All of these concepts are timeless.
The inaugural Steinway commission is currently on view in L.A. during Christie’s Post War & Contemporary preview from April 8-13 (at UFO-Space on Highland). On May 11th Apollo/Still Shining will be presented for auction where the proceeds from the sale will be allocated among three museums chosen by Steinway’s CEO Michael Sweeney (MOCA, the Studio Museum of Harlem and the Walker Art Center). For those of you in New York, Christie’s will be hosting a special event on May 4th featuring Mark Bradford and Robert Glasper which will be hosted by the Studio Museum Director, Thelma Golden. That’s a creative trio that will undoubtedly deliver on improvisational entertainment & enlightening artistic insight. For additional information on the L.A. preview, please see Christie’s website.