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Art Of The Day Weekly

#32 - from 1 February 2007 to 6 February 2020


The Fabre spirit

MONTPELLIER – It took four years of works, over 60 million euros of investment, a donation of 20 large format Soulages paintings and a luminous path drawn by Buren. Now it is completed and the operation has quasi «Parisian» dimensions: the rehabilitation of one of the most beautiful museums of the French province really deserved an effort of this type. With its flowered tramway created by Garouste and Bonetti, its mayor specialized in faux-pas, Montpellier can once again be known for its Fabre museum. The highlights, Femmes d’Alger dans leur intérieur(Women from Algiers indoors) by Delacroix and the famous Baigneuses(The Bathers) by Courbet (it is present thanks to the friendship between the painter and the local patron, Alfred Bruyas), are but the tip of the iceberg. There are 800 works exhibited over an area that has tripled in size(9000 m2). Raphaël, Guercino, Poussin, Rubens, Houdon, Millet, Delacroix, Nicolas de Staël…Treasures to be discovered as of 4 February.

While waiting for the musuem to have a website,a copy of The Bathers by Courbet


Major works at the Prado

MADRID – One of the wealthiest museums in Europe has had for too long a reputation of sticking to the status quo. The times seem to be a'changing as the first semester of 2007 should prove to us. Following the opening on 30 January of a ambitious retrospective on Tintoretto (the most important one since the one in Venice in 1937), a real revolution is cooking up for next week. The Prado will finally host living artists under its roof. The lucky chosen one is German artist Thomas Struth (born in 1954), as some of his works will temporarily replace paintings by ancient masters. As we know Struth specialises in photographs of museums: that should be enough to disarm certain conservative critics. The great moment for 2007 is programed for the end of the Spring, with the inauguration of the museum's extension, designed by Rafael Moneo, around the former cloister of the Hieronymites. The area of the institution will go from 28 000 to over 40 000 m2. And once again, it will have a contemporary touch, as the doors of this great brick cube were designed by Cristina Iglesias, one of the most fashionable artists on the Spanish scene.

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A shower of portraits

LONDON and MADRID - By some strange coïncidence two major international exhibitions will focus simultaneously on the theme of the portrait. With the title Citizens & Kings, the Royal Academy of Arts is looking at a troubled period -from 1760 to 1830- in which enlightened despotism and revolutions combined. Whether it was Napoleon and his monarch colleagues, or the nascent ruling classes -the bourgeois, industrial leaders and scientists - all were sketched, painted and even sculpted by Goya, Ingres, Copley or Schubin. Back in Madrid we go one century further to study the various expressions of the portrait before and after 1900. The tutelary figure all the curators refer to of course is Picasso, even though he was not the only one to have renewed the discipline inside out. Warhol, but above all Cézanne, Van Gogh and Francis Bacon also left a major imprint on the way of representing man.

  • Citizens and Kings: Portraits in the Age of Revolutions - 1760-1830 at the Royal Academy of Arts, from 3 February to 20 April
  • The portrait in the century of Picasso at the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum, from 7 February to 20 May.

    The website of the Royal Academy in London

  • Bra black

    PARIS - When seeing his hallucinating ink drawings, one thinks right away of his fellow romantics and their unlimited imaginations they constantly nourished with sources of nightmares and mystery like Füssli or Blake. But we can also feel the influence of Victor Hugo in his quick line, some Edward Lear in his profiles, be it John Martin in certain accumulations or perspectives that denounce the horrible vacuity. Théophile de Bra (1797- 1864) was a respected sculptor, who received various public commissions for churches (in particular in Douai, his home town), for cemeteries and hospitals. Balzac and George Sand, whose portraits he did, held him in high esteem. With the passing of time he was haunted by hallucinations, cerebral irritations, that led to persecutions by his in-laws (he married three times). But it also gave him inexhaustible inspiration, which he expressed the best through ink on paper. His work is overwhelming, including drawings full of strange creatures, half-men half-vegetables, frightening animals, maelstroms and other storms. This exhibition offers an aforetaste...

  • Sang d’encre, Théophile de Bra, an illuminated Romantic at the musée de la Vie romantique, from 6 February to 10 June

    The website of the musée de la Vie romantique


    Troyes, the capital of modern art

    TROYES – Their name is not well known to the public in general. And yet the couple of collectors Pierre and Denise Levy (owners of various brands of materials, among them Devanlay) built a superb fund of modern art, the core of which they donated to the city of Troyes. To house it, a museum of great quality has been built. The «remainder» has been the object of a sale ordered by the courts in the context of the inheritance. It will be led by the local auctioneer Boisseau-Pomez, at the city's Town Hall. A wide array of works will parade through, proof of the various centers of interest the couple had: objects from Africa or Oceania, antique statues, old paintings. But most of the objects are of course from the XXth century including in particular Les régates (The regattas) by Dufy, estimated at 180 000 €. Oils on canvas, drawings, engravings and even books: Matisse's book Jazz is estimated at 120 000 €.

  • Vente Levy on 2, 3 and 4 February at Boisseau-Pomez

    To know more


    McDermott & McGough,

    PARIS – They are less known than Gilbert & George or Pierre & Gilles but have a faithful group of amateurs (during the inauguration, Julian Schnabel with his colossal Montana-farmer-stature made a highly noted appearance): David McDermott and Peter McGough form one of the most visible homosexual couples in contemporary art. In this their most recent exhibition, at Jérôme de Noirmont's gallery, they have set aside the activism of their younger years and even play with the myth of the "femme fatale", they pulled out of American post WWII movies. The photos of the tearful Muses are repainted in oil over canvas. Each of these stars is set in a diptych with a clear motive from a comic strip. Clearly déja vu but clean and well brought about in spite of the physical distance with the main characters – Peter is in New York while the older David, to underline his hostility to Bush's politics, has settled in Ireland. He is interested in esotericism, and is preparing a game of tarot…

  • McDermott & McGough, Please don’t stop loving me at the Jérôme de Noirmont gallery, until 15 March, 36 avenue Matignon, 75008 Paris, tel.: 01 42 89 89 00

    A few reproductions on the website of the Noirmont gallery


    Paris autrefois. Du Moyen Âge à la Belle Epoque

    Paris of the past. From the Middle Ages to the Belle Epoque. One is surprised to see this type of book with an introduction by Rudy Ricciotti, the most recent national Architecture prize, who busies himself on construction sites where glass, cement and steel call the rules (the recent Centre chorégraphique in Aix-en-Provence or the department of Islamic art at the Louvre). Indeed, in this book we have watercolors that speak not only of a Paris of the past, but what is more, that has disappeared. Fortunately, such extreme contemporaneousness does not exclude a certain respect for the past… The 80 images by Christian Bénilan, the architect from the Bâtiments de France, reconstruct important works by Boffrand, Philibert de l’Orme or Brongniart (the one of the Bourse -the Paris stock exchange): private mansions, gardens, administrative buildings. At a time when France has 40 000 historical monuments and for which the upkeep weighs heavily on the public budgets, here is proof that the past centuries did not have a blind respect for buildings. Of course we must preserve the past. But up to what point? This is the question the book brings up, in spite of itself. The answer is difficult and highly political…

  • Paris autrefois, watercolors by Christian Bénilan, éditions Massin, 2006, ISBN : 2-7072-0538-9, 30 €.

    Buy that book from Amazon


    AARHUS (Danemark) – Artist Olafur Eliasson won the Sky Space contest to adorn the Aros museum of contemporary art with a big installation on the roof, and in doing so beat other competitors such as Dominique Perrault, Diller+Scofidio or Maya Lin.

    A few images of the project

    FLORENCE - The palazzo Strozzi has annonced an ambitious program of exhibitions over the period 2007-2009, thanks to important budgets (7 million € per year). The kick off on 2 March is no risky business, with Cézanne in Florence.

    To know more

    LONDON – In spite of the opposition by the Greek government at the last minute, the sale of objects that belonged to King Georges Ist was carried out at Christie’s on 24 and 25 January. It brought in 14 million €, that is six times the initial estimate.

    LONDON – This is the first test of the state of the modern and contemporary art markets following the fantastic sales last November in New York: Christie’s is putting up for sale a Bacon from the pope series (estimated at 12 million £). Soytheby’s presents a Renoir, Les Deux Sœurs(The two sisters), evaluated at 8 million £.

    NEW YORK – A painting from Rembrandt 's later years, Saint Jacques le Majeur (Saint James the greater) (1661) was sold for 25.8 million $ to an anonymous buyer, at Sotheby’s on 25 January.

    PALM BEACH - The Palm Beach Fair will hold its 11th edition from 2 to 11 February with some one hundred exhibitors, among them Axel Vervoordt, Martin from the Louvre, Dickinson and Mallett from London. The array of the objects presented goes from Greek and Roman antiques to modern art.

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    PARIS – The musée de la Chasse, in the Marais district, will open following refurbishing works that have allowed it to double its surface, by annexing a neighboring town house. The scenography is inspired from the "cabinets de curiosité"(wonder rooms) of the Renaissance.

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    PARIS - The winners of the HSBC foundatin for photography for 2007 are German photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten and American photographer Matthew Pillsbury. Their works will be shown at Photo Espana from 30 May to 22 July this year and at the Baudoin Lebon gallery in Paris in September