Art Of The Day Weekly
#16 - from 28 September 2006 to 4 October 2006
IN THE AIR
Some twenty watercolors by a mediocre Austrian painter from the beginning of the XXth century were put up at an auction on tuesday 26 September at Lostwithiel, a town in Cornwall. The excitement around these paintings is not motivated by their aesthetic quality but rather by the personality of their author. AH, the monogram on certain paintings, indeed corresponds to the initials of Adolf Hitler. A great number of observers, among them the critic from The Guardian, Jonathan Jones, see in this event a mediocre remake of the scandal of 1983, when the Führer's personal diaries, found as if by miracle, had soon proven to be fake. The art market is sometimes accused of being irrational, when it attributes exaggerated values to mediocre works. In this case, we cannot accuse it: in spite of the tension created by the media, these poor paintings did not go for more than a few thousand pounds…
When Venice looked to the East
PARIS -What would have become of Venice without its privileged links with the Orient? She carried out a great part of its trade with the East and based the major part of her political strength on that link, controlling areas such as Crete and did not hesitate when necessary to use weapons: Venice played a major role in the crusade of 1204, that ended with the sack of Constantinople. These relations, at times brutal at others peaceful, were reflected in Venitian art, that copied certain Islamic iconographic motives (we can see them in certain works by Jacopo Bellini or Carpaccio) or certain methods that were more advanced (in particular in the techniques of Murano glasswork). At the same time the interiors of the patrician interiors were filled with luxurious objects from Turkey or further away: rugs, damascened leather bindings, etc. The exhibition, first shown at the Metropolitan Museum of New York, presents a detailed resume of five centuries of mutual influences.
Holbein and the right families of the XVIth century
LONDON - The retrospective dedicated to Hans Holbein is leaving Basel, his native town, and is arriving in England, where he lived from 1526 to 1528 and from 1532 to 1543. It focuses on the links the painter built with his new adoptive country, which he knew through troubled times, the reign of Henry VIII and the Reform. One of his sponsors, Thomas More, the King's minister, would even pay his loyalty to the catholic religion with his life. The portraits are the backbone of this exhibition: those of intellectuals of the time and of course, of the court. This is the opportunity for a long awaited family gathering: Henry VIII (Thyssen-Bornemisza collection, Madrid), his wife Jane Seymour (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) and their son Edward (National Gallery of Art, Washington). The painter's most famous work, the Ambassadors, is not exposed but is not very far: it hangs at the National Gallery.
Portrait, portrait on the wall...
PARIS- At the age of the Enlightment, which saw the rise of the bourgeoisie, the assertion of the individual, painting took hold of the theme of the private portrait. Of course the discipline had already had its age of glory during the Renaissance but now it expanded to a much larger population, with new codes: the pomps of official representation gave way to a natural attitude as we can see in the emblematic work that opens the exhbition, Mrs. Abington by Joshua Reynolds. Goya, David, Houdon, Ingres, Lawrence are some of the artists who mark the itinerary in which we can see how the portrait can be a useful weapon for promotion. Marie-Antoinette, who had trouble being accepted by her French subjects, asked Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun to do some moving images in which she appeared as a devoted mother...Prima donnas, business men, actors, high ranking civil servants all gave in to the new fashion (even artists who multiplied the self-portraits). This trend naturally paved the road that lead in the Second Empire to a new technique, photography.
Brassaï: photography and beyond
PARIS - Just a little more than twenty years following Brassaï's death, and a year after that of his widow's, an important ensemble by the famous Hungarian (his real name was Gyula Halasz, 1899-1984) is being scattered. The photographs, some 561, represent the larger part of the auction. They will be offered in two sessions, on 3 October, called precisely "Jour"(Day) (regarding landscapes, nudes, fairs, well-known persons, etc) and "Nuit"(Night) (for his famous shots of brothels,of lovers, of popular balls and of bad boys). But other more original pieces will be auctioned the previous day: sculptures rarely seen (up to 10 000 euros) and the drawings done in Paris in the 40s and 50s and earlier, in 1922-23, in Berlin. Like in the case of Cartier-Bresson, the artist's second nature expresses itself through his black lead pencils, charcoal pencils or simply a red ballpoint pen: essentially sketches of nudes, among which some could go for less than 1000 euros.
Art Forum, tenth edition
BERLIN - Art Forum, the young German fair of contemporary art, has gone past the 10-year barrier this year. Some 120 galleries and 25 different countries are present and the organizers expect nearly 40 000 visitors. Art:Concept, Frank Elbaz, In Situ, Laurent Godin, Kamel Mennour and Zürcher represent France, with Thaddaeus Roppac, also present at Salzburg. The event offers a good perspective on German galleries, with exhibitors from Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, Munich, Dusseldorf, Leipzig, Karlsruhe, as well as on Viennese and Dutch current events. Various debates and an exhibition under the title "Big City Lab" - at first seemingly not very original (the metropole as an artistic center) - complete the programme.
France, your art history is disappearing
Lampoons can be greatly stimulating if they do not limit themselves to settling scores. It is the case of this dialogue between a well-known "mandarin" (he would not like the use of this word), Roland Recht, a professor at the Collège de France and a member of the Institute, and the current director of studies at the Ecole du Louvre. The conclusion is rather pessimistic, which makes it all the more interesting: given the disastrous absence of courses in art history at school or high school in France (contrary to other countries such as Italy), our eye is not educated. The selected university professors and curators, rather than act as a united group, just glare at one another. Curators are replaced by conservation attachés, less well trained but also less paid, therefore more profitable. In the meantime the cultural scene looks more like a circus: the number of national patrimony sites does not stop growing and takes up the public budgets, trying to survive through pitiful "events". Major museums search marketing operations to attract the media while remaining oblivious to the need of having their works of art travel to the province. That leaves all of us, the public at large, lost in the middle of the arena, less keen on opening our eyes to art manifestations than to repeat the same non-sense about the limited number of works of art. And we cannot even seek consolation in the autosuggestion method, since from all points of view, tomorrow will not be a better day...
BELGRADE - The October Fair will hold its 47th edition by opening to the international market. The director of the Kusthalle of Kassel, René Block, presided over the choice of the 100 artists presented in 9 locations, under the title Art, Life and Confusion, from 29 September to 5 November.
BRUXELLES - The Janssen collection of precolombian art, curently on exhibit at the Parc du Cinquantenaire, may leave Belgium. Indeed the collectors would like to leave it to the State as payment of their inheritance rights. But the Flemish government and the federal government have not reached an agreement as to the location of the collection nor on the financing conditions. The time given by the Janssen family will be up on 1st October…
LOS ANGELES- The Broad Art Center at the University of California (UCLA), drawn by Richard Meier, was inaugurated on 13 September.Financed by businessman Eli Broad, it hosts the university's department of art and design.
PARIS - There is a change at the helm of the Jeu de Paume, the institution dedicated to photography. Régis Durand will leave his post on 1 October. He will be replaced by Marta Gili, an art critic and organizer of Spanish exhibitions, born in 1957, and who was director of the department of visual arts at the La Caixa Foundation in Barcelona. She was also artistic director for the Printemps de septembre festival, in Toulouse, in 2002 and 2003.
PARIS - Launched in 1959 under the auspices of Malraux, the Biennale de Paris, in charge of drawing up the inventory of contemporary creation, was interrupted in 1985. Following a renaissance in 2004, it presented its 15th edition from 1 to 31 October 2006 with some one hundred projects.
PARIS- The Musée du Quai Branly will open its theater on 29 September with Krishna's Gesture and an adaptation for puppets of the Mahabharata.
TRENTO-(Italy)The Galleria Civica d'arte contemporanea will organise its 2nd international performance prize on 29 et 30 septembre. The 12 finalists are invited to present the performances selected at the Centrale de Dres.
VERONA-The loan of the Dead Christ by Mantegna (Pinacoteca of Brera, Milano) for the retrospective on the painter that is currently taking place in the three cities of Mantua, Padova and Verona, is breeding contraversies. It was lent in spite of the opposition from the authorities of the art world, following the intervention of the assistant prime minister, Francesco Rutelli, and the cultural assistant of Milano, Vittorio Sgarbi. One of the commissiners of the event, Mauro Lucco, has resigned.
DO NOT MISS
NANCY - This fall the museum of the Ecole de Nancy organizes two interesting exhibitions. The first presents two masterpieces in book binding, bought last year. The second exhibits the Emile Gallé's commitment in favor of Captain Dreyfus. The master glazier did not hesitate to organize various petitions and demonstrations and went even further by creating specific works that declared the military officer's innocence.