#144 - from 1 October 2009 to 7 October 2009

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The end of small museums?
We received some very bad news from Brussels last week. The theft of a major painting is always a deplorable event. In this given case, a painting by Magritte is guilty of attracting two armed intruders – Olympia, representing the artist’s wife, Georgette, nude. Had this happened in a major museum, the event would have caused a discussion and motivated investments for the venue’s security. But it occurred in a charming site, with limited financial means – the house where the painter was born, in Jette, on the outskirts of Brussels – that will have great difficulties to protect itself with metal detectors or sophisticated cameras as required to avoid a theft. In the race to security, artists’ homes, full of atmosphere and memories, are running risks. In order to exhibit without running any risks, should we exhibit what has no value? Museums will become mini Fort Knoxes, or will not be. This could become their policy: we can only hope this prophecy will not see the light of day.
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Portrait of the artist as an advertising tycoon
LONDON - Titian was famous. So was Warhol. But the difference between them was that the latter had systematically organized his notoriety and it was an integral part of his artistic creation. This is the «pop spirit» that underlines the retrospective at the Tate Modern when it invites the most talented visual artists in staging their own personal cult. It does so by going back to exhibitions that were landmarks – and often created a scandal: Keith Haring’s Pop Shop, in which the artist sold his own consumer products, Made in Heaven where Jeff Koons presented his erotic lovemaking with his porno star wife, Cicciolina, or Damien Hirst’s performance, in which he had installed two twins under two identical Spot Paintings.
  • Pop Life: art in a material world at the Tate Modern from 1st October 2009 to 17 January 2010
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    The return of Fantin-Latour
    MADRID – He was Courbet’s student, a friend of Monet and Degas and an exceptional technician as well. Yet the name of Henri Fantin-Latour (1836-1904) fell into oblivion and he is only associated to group portraits, like the one all the painters from Batignolles posed for. He was not sufficiently militant, and did not link his destiny to that of the Impressionists by refusing to participate to the first exhibition of the movement. He was too diversified, and thus resisted all classifications: he was a society portrait artist, the author of mythological scenes that tend towards Symbolism and the last heir of the painters of Spanish-style bodegones. The retrospective at the Thyssen museum, first shown at the Gulbenkian foundation, proves in 70 works that the discreet Fantin-Latour is an essential link between all the movements of painting renewal at the end of the XIXth century.
  • Fantin-Latour at the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum, from 29 September 2009 to 10 January 2010.
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    The mysteries of Teotihuacán
    PARIS – These immense pyramids precisely oriented in regard to the movement of the stars continue to fascinate Westerners. The exhibition at the quai Branly museum contributes the latest answers on the vitality of this pre-Aztec capital, some thirty kilometres from today’s city of Mexico, symbolized by these monuments abandoned around the year 600. Aside from some fifteen large sculptures and masterpieces of decorative art – mural paintings, masks or ritual, turquoise mosaic objects - the visitor is updated on the latest discoveries, made during the diggings carried out on the pyramid of the Moon between 1998 and 2004. Among the 450 pieces presented, mostly from Mexican collections (among them that of Diego Rivera), some are shown in Europe for the first time.
  • Teotihuacán, cité des dieux at the musée du quai Branly from 6 October 2009 to 24 January 2010
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    Art of the day also suggests...
  • The Pinacothèque of Paris presents some of the most beautiful pieces from The Dutch Golden Age from the Rijksmuseum: Hobbema, Jan Steen, Adriaen van Ostade, including Rembrandt. From 7 October 2009 to 7 February 2010.
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  • She only reigned over Italy for a short Spring in 1946 but she remains in people’s memory. In Le trousseau de la Reine de Mai (The trousseau of the Queen of May), the Bismarck foundation in Paris shows-off the dresses and clothes of the court of Queen Marie-Josée. From 7 October to 12 December 2009.
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  • The Bibliothèque nationale offers a retrospective of Eugène Ionesco to celebrate the centennial of his birthday and the recent donation of his archives. From 6 October 2009 to 3 January 2010
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    Ismail Merchant, a cultural go-between
    LONDON - James Ivory is much better known, and yet the two men were inseparable: producer Ismaïl Merchant (1936-2005), from the rich bourgeoisie of Mumbai, built with his companion the longest creative partnership in the history of movies, materialized by movies such as Howard’s End or Room with a view and 31 nominations to the Oscars. His taste for cultural mixtures is reflected in his collection in which can be found Indian shawls as well as European furniture and Oriental rugs. The absence of works of museum quality promises affordable prices (starting at a few hundred euros), that could go past the 100 000 euro barrier for a work by Hungarian landscape artist August Schoefft (1809-1888).
  • The Ismail Merchant auction will be held at Christie’s South Kensington on 7 October 2009 at 10:30 AM.
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    Peter Klasen, 2000, Fragments R/41, 200 x 180 cm, courtesy Tri postal, Lille
    Peter Klasen against the Wall
    German artist Peter Klasen (born in 1935) carried the banner of narrative Figuration, the cousin of American Pop Art, next to colleagues such as Arroyo or Stämpfli. But he can not be reduced to that fraternity, as he has never stopped evolving since those far-away sixties, until recently when he used the resources of digital imagery to produce concertinaing of a new genre. Other cycles are original in his production such as the one dedicated to the Berlin Wall two years before its fall, in which he looks into its universe of graffiti. Still very active, Peter Klasen has created for the Tri postal in Lille a large installation, The penal colony , inspired from Kafka’s work, which touches on the theme of torture he had already dealt with in 1991 in Shock Corridor Dead End.
  • Peter Klasen is present at the Tri postal (avenue Willy Brandt, Lille), from 2 October to 29 November 2009.
  • Do not miss: Peter Klasen, la mémoire du regard at the Laac in Dunkirk (from 3 October 2009 to 13 February 2010) and the complete series of prints dedicated to the Berlin Wall in the Anciennes écuries de Roncq –former stables of Roncq-(from 16 October to 28 November 2009).
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    The intimate side of Matisse
    She was very young, hardly twenty years old, and was paid 8000 francs gross per month. She was the assistant in a painter’s workshop, sharpened his pencils, dried his brushes and bought his motive-filled paper for his collages. She also knew how to take care of the house and put on a record of Gregorian songs when he wished to concentrate. A rather banal existence all things considered, except that it was in 1948, between Vence and Nice and that the painter was none other than Henri Matisse. Sixty years later, Jacqueline Duhême, who in the meantime has become an illustrator for children, has written her memoirs. The book is intended for children but the anecdotes on Picasso, looking for a can of sardines to complement his daily vegetable soup, on Chagall, when he came to offer this neighbor a cactus, on Colette, Aragon or Tériade are maybe even more appealing to grown-ups. The light shed on Matisse’s daily life is also quite touching, from the manner in which he peeled a pineapple to reading Chateaubriand out loud to put himself to sleep …
  • Petite main chez Henri Matisse, text and illustrations by Jacqueline Duhême, Gallimard, 2009, 62 p., 17 €, ISBN : 978-2-07-062047
  • Buy that book from Amazon


    MARSEILLE – The Cantini museum will reopen on 6 October 2009 after a restoration campaign.
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    NEW YORK – The mural paintings that decorated the hall of the Empire State Building at the moment of its inauguration in 1931 and that were hidden since the sixties have been restored and were unveiled to the public on 23 September this year.
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    PARIS – The 8th Nuit blanche (sleepless night) will be held in Paris on 3 October in the evening. Similar events will take place on the same day in Brussels, La Valette, Brescia and Toronto.
    PARIS – The huge portraits of artist JR, dedicated to women, are presented around the île Saint-Louis, on the bridges, the piers and the buildings of the City of Paris, from 3 October to 2 November 2009.
    SANTIAGO DU CHILI –The first Triennal of contemporary art in Chile will be held from 5 October to 5 December 2009 in seven cities in the country.
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     On artoftheday.info

    This week, do not miss

    BRUSSELS -Europalia, the manifestation that groups together hundreds of events, is dedicated this year to China. Aside from the concerts, dance shows and puppets, four central exhibitions are dedicated to the Emperor, to calligraphy, to the Silk Road and to contemporary creation.
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    LONDON -Aside from the large retrospectives on far-away cultures (the Aztecs or the Indian Maharajahs), the British capital pays royal attention to modern and contemporary art: Auerbach, Pop Art and Anish Kapoor are in the program for the next coming months.
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    PARIS -The Parisian institutions do not seem to ever be depressed: the large retrospectives announced for the season are being held as planned and will please both amateurs of archaeology – who will leave for Byzantium or Mexico – as well as lovers of ancient painting.
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