Art Of The Day Weekly
#33 - from 8 February 2007 to 14 February 2007
IN THE AIR
One Pollock too many?
Will the progress accomplished in science render all analysis of authenticity of modern paintings infallible ?(when dealing with stone from the Antiquity, it is much more complex). Maybe, but it is quite a diffferent matter to accept the conclusions of an expertise when the financial stakes are out of proportion. As an example, take the 32 works by Pollock discovered in 2002 by Alex Matter, the son of some very good friends of the painter's. The experts from the museums of the university of Harvard, consulted by Matter himself, are not very pleasant. They announced they have found pigments in the three paintings studied that have only been on the market since 1971 and 1986. Pollock died in 1956. Most of the specialists are ready to agree with them and they question the authenticity of the paintings. Matter and some of his advicers believe the anachronic pigments may have been left by restorers during recent interventions. Is the truth on the side of Harvard, or on the other? The matter is worth 8 or 9 zeros. If they were really done by the prince of the dripping technique, the paintings could be worth 10 or 100 million dollars (a Pollock, n° 5, 1948, was recently sold for an amount estimated at 140 million dollars). If they are not by Pollock, they are worth nothing. One can understand Matter's resistance…
Nantes, the return of the ducs
NANTES – Its rebirth may be slightly eclipsed by the one covered at the same time by all the media, that of the Fabre museum. Yet, the work carried out on the castle of the ducs of Brittany, the great complex built over various centuries in the centre of Nantes, is spectacular. It took fifteen years of works to complete the project. From the tower of the old Donjon (XIVth century) to the saddlery room (XVIIIth century), the whole of the building that was the glory of François II and Anne of Brittany (the last duchess of Brittany and twice Queen of France), including its 500 metres of the rampart walk has been refurbished. In doing so a new technique was perfected to save the tender tuft from its illness (flaking off in patches), the spires have been placed on the tower of the Couronne d’Or (Golden Crown) and the bell tower has been replaced on the Grand Gouvernement in compliance with the plan of 1715. Inside, the city's museum that retraces the role of the Loire river, the story of slavery or Art deco architecture, presents 800 pieces in 32 rooms. It has some masterpieces, such as a view of Nantes by Turner. Prior to its closing, the castle used to welcome over 300 000 visitors each year. As it appears now after its restoration, it should do much better…
MAYORCA - The inauguration on 2 February by the Spanish sovereigns of the decoration of a chapel in the cathedral of Mayorca puts the final point on a project that lasted years. It took Miquel Barceló (born in 1957)six years to complete the ceramic altarpiece, the result of research that took him from Mayorca (where he is from) to Palermo and even the Dogon country. The surface of the work justifies these delays of another era. It covers 300 square metres of wall, and tells the story -through a great number of figures - of the miracle of the multiplication of the bread and fish. Barceló is also the author of monochrome tinted windows and designed the furniture in the chapel. And yet he is not the first contemporary artist to intervene in this edifice that was started in 1306. Aside from the stone-cutters from the Gothic period, the famous Gaudi and a contemporary of his, Jujol, left their imprint at the beginning of the XXth century.
With or without the Louvre?
ABOU DHABI – We have a better idea of what the - already - mythical island of museums the emirate wants to bring to life along the persian gulf is going to look like. Directed by the charming Thomas Krens – «the inventor» of the Guggenheim in Bilbao – four architecture superstars unveiled their projects last week. The Guggenheim of the sand dunes will be the creation of Frank Gehry, faithful to the destructured forms that made him famous, a seaside museum by Tadao Ando, a centre for the living arts that resembles a multicolored wing, by Zaha Hadid, and the «Louvre of the sand dunes» by Jean Nouvel. That is, if there is to be a Louvre of the sand dunes… Indeed the controversy that shook France did not go by unnoticed by the authorities of Abou Dhabi, and they could be ready to study a project of substitution. If the Louvre does not move in time, other major museums such as the Prado, the Ermitage, the museum of Topkapi (Istanbul) and the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Viena could create a pool to replace it.
Mark Dion, long live natural history
NIMES – American artist Mark Dion (born in 1961) is honored twice this week: the Carré d’Art in Nîmes is holding a monographic exhibition, and the musée de la Chasse (Hunting museum), in Paris that reopened recently, presents a piece of his in the Jacqueline Sommer room. In Nïmes, he forces us to review our notes on Buffon with his installations inspired from the disciplines naturalists and taxonomists of the XVIIIth and XIXth centuries cherished so, like ornithology, entomology, mammalogy, geology… and archeology to complete the pretty rhyme. Other specimens from the collections of natural history in Nîmes participate in his cabinet of curiosities, in which authentic pieces and invented ones, serious and eccentric ones mix slyly, in an amusing accumulation. We all remember his stuffed panther kept in formol or his huge suspended mole in an exhibition dedicated to Jean-Henri Fabre (at the espace Electra). Here there is an alarm clock, a broken cup, cartridges next to the casting of a bear's skeleton, a plastic snake close to a taxidermised pink flamingo, etc. Where is nature, what is man made? In these times where everything is increasingly virtual, the question has its importance.
THE ARTIST OF THE WEEK
Marina Abramovic, great priestess of performances
MADRID – One remembers an ice-cold project a few years ago during the Biennale of Venice. Marina Abramovic, born in 1946 in Belgrade, told the story of her country in Balkan Baroque : she was surrounded by bones she cleaned conscienciously. A few years earlier, with her accomplice Ulay, she was in the middle of the Great Wall in China, after walking for many days, to put an end to their love story. At the gallery La Fabrica, directed by the organizers of the Photo España festival, she is back with the Balkans, a region rich in disasters, a region that «produces more history than one can consume» according to Churchill's famous phrase. She is no longer looking at her country from the discomforting angle of the recent events but rather from the more amusing angle of eroticism. Balkan Erotic Epic brings together, under the shape of three large format photographs and two videos, interpretations of rituals of fertility. Women in traditional clothes, all in a circle, massage their breasts under a stormy sky; the artist herself beats her naked chest relentlessly with a skull. The more provocative dimension of the series that started in 2005 – showing naked men copulating with the earth like in Vendredi by Michel Tournier – has remained in the shadows…
Modern art, step by step
No one doubts the second half of the XXth century has a unique place in the history of art given the great diversity of its manifestations. In order to make some sense out of this jungle, the formula of the didactic manual – even if it discourages the purists – is very useful. The version suggested by Hazan is quite well designed. Rather than being a simple phone book of artists, a chronological list or even a scaning of the «movements», it mixes up the entries. Following an approach by key-words (informality, land art, color-field painting), then by location (New York, London, Milano at the moment of New realism, Cassel for his Documenta, Bilbao for its Guggenheim, Shanghai), it covers some sixty artists, from Marina Abramovic to Andy Warhol. One may feel the choices went too often towards Italy (there is an article on Rome but not on Paris, one on Gianni Colombo but not on Buren) and there are a few needless repetitions in the captions but the contents are well illustrated and generally clear. >L’Art au XXe siècle, II. L’art contemporain, collective work, Hazan, 2007, 384 p., ISBN : +, 27 €
AMSTERDAM – The Stedelijk Museum, one of the most important in The Netherlands, is currently undergoing an ambitious transformation and will not open in 2008 as planed. Due to the delays in the authorisations for works, the date has been pushed back two years.
ATHENS - The Greek ministry of Culture has just announced it refuses to lend the Ephebi of Marathon to the Louvre for the exhibition on Praxiteles that is to open on 23 March. While it had received two agreements orally, the Louvre expressed its "astonishment" upon learning -through a simple fax on 5 February-that the ministry refused to lend the major work .
LONDON – The sales of modern and impressionist works reached new records on 6 and 7 Februrary. Sotheby’s sold for 94.9 million £ and Christie’s for 89 million £. The former had the highest bid, at 8.75 million £,for a Soutine, Man with a red scarf, and Dufy broke its record with The onion fair (4 million £). At Christie's, Fernand Léger was the star with La maison dans les arbres (The tree house)at 6.3 million £.
MONTPELLIER- The Fabre museum, inaugurated on 3 February after four years of works, received 10 000 visitors during its first two days of opening to the public.
PARIS – The Rustin foundation, that defends the work of difficult artists looking closely at physical decrepitude, will be inaugurated on 9 February at N°38, boulevard Raspail. It presents a collection of works by Jean Rustin and will organise temporary exhibitions of artists with a similar sensibility.
PARIS – The Couteau-Bégarie study will organise on 14 February a sale of souvenirs that belonged to prince Félix Youssoupoff as well as to his lawyer Serge Korganoff. Aside from his objects in silver, there is an abundant correspondence of which a part concerns the famous pearl Pellegrina.
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PARIS – The theme of the round table organised by Drouot Formation on 10 February is the relations between art and luxury. Among the speakers there will be masters Georges Delettrez and Cornette de Saint-Cyr, Béatrice Salmon, director of the musée des Arts décoratifs, and Gilles Fuchs, the president of the Adiaf (Association for the international renown of French art).Tel: 01 42 46 76 94
TOURS – A diptych called Christ blessing and Virgin in prayer, painted in Tours in the XVth century and considered a national treasure, was acquired by the State through the patronage of PGA Holding. It will be exhibited at the museum of Beaux-Arts in Tours.
This week, do not miss
Millie Chen, Far Centre
PARIS - The Canadian cultural center presents a rising star from the scene across the Atlantic. Artist Millie Chen, of Chinese origin, is at the confluence of various disciplines. She questions the notions of identity and personal construction with installations that make the viewer lose the sense of location, such as this painted paper with Chinese motifs that invade the exhibition space, where 6 other works are presented.