Art Of The Day Weekly
#43 - from 19 April 2007 to 25 April 2007
IN THE AIR
The Metropolitan museum is reassessing its Roman and Greek collections
NEW YORK – At a time when various museums are busy in ambitious operations abroad (the Louvre and the Guggenheim to begin with) or are multiplying the subsidiaries on their territory (the Pompidou Center at Metz, the Louvre in Lens, the Prado in Barcelona, etc), the large museums in New York are an exception. The MoMA, following the inauguration of its nes building, continues to pick away at the land close around it in order to extend itself without leaving its hisorical headquarters. As for the Metropolitan Museum, it is investiing its resources in the spectacular renovation of its space. The latest objective is the department of Greek, Roman and Etruscan art inaugurated on 20 April around a patio that hosts the former restaurant - which in 1949 had taken the place of the Corinthian columns, Eros, Hercules and other Etruscan charriots set up there. We are witnessing a remarkable return to the past with the doubling of the department's area (currently close to 6000 m2) that allows the presentation of various pieces kept in the basement. The curators and director Philippe de Montebello are more than satisfied – while maybe nourishing a certain fear: will the movement we have seen over these last months - the avalanche of requests for the return of statues illegaly exported - spoil the party?
Airs de PAris: the title is a little tricky. One expects the enth hommage to Duchamp, the protective god of all contemporary arts. Aside from the title, that refers to the conceptual phial that the great Marcel offered in 1919 to his faithful collectors, the Arensberg couple, and to the fact that the first retrospective of the then very young Centre Pompidou was dedicated to him in 1977, there are no other parallels. Here we approach a somewhat more contemporary problem : the changes in society that have made the urban population, for the first time, larger than the rural one. The city? What city? How can we live it? These are the questions which more than 70 artists will try to bring an answer to through themes such as biotechnologies, communities, vertical landscapes, intimacy. Architects such as Didier Fiuza, movie directors such as Chris Marker, video artists such Anri Sala and visual artists, from Louise Bourgeois to Adel Abdessemed or Daniel Buren, all contribute their point of view.
Max and the Dutch
AMSTERDAM – One spontaneously associates Max Beckmann to Berlin, or maybe to the United States, where he died in 1950, at the age of 66. But to the Netherlands? And yet it was in the ten year period he spent in Amsterdam that was the most productive during his whole career. He got there in 1937, the day following Hitler's speech on degenerate art, and produced in particular five of his nine large triptychs. Among the one hundred works exposed there are three of those compositions: Carnival, The Actors and Perseus. The influence of the primitive Flemish artists or of Van Gogh, the taste for cabarets, the inspiration he found in the urban life of Amsterdam all contributed in his Dutch paintings to the violent colorings in which the Human comedy is more pathetic than ever. Following the exhibition, one can visit the city in 25 stations that keep the memory of Beckmann alive and see in the museum of the Bible his lithographs on the Apocalypse.
The return of postman
PARIS – Hauterives, in the Drôme region, is a little like Lourdes, a place that has its quota of pilgrims. In this case, we are dealing with spectators of art brut. Their prophet is the famous postman Cheval who, during his daily 33 kilometre round, for a number of decades, picked up tons of stones from the roads with which he built a temple that he finished in 1902. Where could the heritage of a postman be exhibited? At the post office museum of course. So here we have, around an impressive model of the monument, ordered in its time by Harald Szeeman, a number of modern epigones. Paul Amar, who invents altarpieces, all in shells covered in extravagant colours; Richard Fauguet who assembles mounds of pyrex dishes; Marie-Rose Lortet who makes lace constructions solidified with sugar. Another alter ego of Cheval, the very excentric Scotsman Edward James (who gave Dali the idea of the telephone-lobster), is only present through the presence of a video. His temple is in the Mexican tropical forest. He is more recent (he worked up to his death in 1984) but the humidity and the invasive vegetation did not allow him to grow old. A good idea for a trip: rush to Las Pozas (near Xilitla) With Cheval, the mailman at the Postoffice museum, until 1st September 2007
Over in Brussels
By constantly repeating that this is the little fair that is going up in importance, we are probably going to make it be true … Nearly 150 galeries, 30 000 visitors and strong attendance by collectors: the organisers are happy to tell one and all that this is probably the most international fair with 80% of the visitors from 20 different countries, outside of Belgium. The flat country has neverthless not been forgotten: to celebrate this 25th edition, artbrussels focuses on contemporary Belgian creation. From Op de Beeck (video) to Jan De Cock (a kiosk at the entrance of hall 11), from Kris Martin to Eric Duyckaert or Ann-Veronica Janssens (a project of a ‘convex mirror’ demultiplied on the rims of VIP cars), five visual artists intervene in the fair. As their name indicates, First Call and Young Talent are the spaces that will offer novelties, next to the established galeries.
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ARTIST OF THE WEEK
Hiroshi Sugimoto: black & white
VENICE – Born in 1948, the Japanese photographer is hardly known by the public at large.Yet he is among the confirmed values of contemporary art. One of his images, representing the cliffs of Dover, was sold for over 650 000 € at Christie’s in London last February. Sugimoto takes his time to work his series and carries out prints in the old fashion manner, in black and white, in silver gelatine. As of the 1970s, he treated the large historic movie theaters in the United States, of which he photographed the interiors in the dark, simply lit by the light that came from the screen, with very long poses. He wished to give a reality to static objects, and he also dedicated himself to taking photographs of wax statues of characters from the past, to which he gave a semblance of life. He worked in the same manner with the reconstitutions of biotopes in the museums of natural history. One can see at the Villa Manin, the contemporary art center inaugurated in 2004 near Venice, all of his work.
Mies van der Rohe
Even regarding sacred monsters like Mies van der Rohe, not all has been said. The centennial of the architect of German origin, in 1986, freed a lot of energies that can still be felt today. One continues to discover buildings he designed (in particular in Potsdam) and when one goes through his writings one discovers a person who was more cultivated than a simple «architect of the great capitalism». From his youth in Aix-la-Chapelle where his father was a stone cutter, from his first steps in the agency of Peter Behrens, on the influences that marked him – Schinkel or Berlage – up to is second American career, the author updates a work that appeared in 1994 and reviews the key moments and monuments. Among the latter there is the famous German pavilion at the Exposition de Barcelona in 1929, the end of the Bauhaus school, of which he was then the director, the Tugendhat house at Brno, the project for the Reichsbank. It was in Chicago, where he settled in 1938, that Mies van der Rohe finally gave free rein to his concept of the sky-scraper and of the «free plan». He was a collector of Klee and Schwitters, a Don Juan, a professional who was not easily swayed (the episode of the Farnworth House order): Mies' rich psychology is seen throughout the book.
BEAUVAIS – A public order to Mattia Bonetti – a tapestry for the cathedral in Metz, will be unveiled on 23 April at the Beauvais workshop.
CUENCA (Ecuador) – The 9th biennal contemporary art event of Cuenca opens on 25 April and will extend until 8 juin.
NEW YORK – Christie’s will put up for sale on 25 April 68 mythic pearls. They were part of one of the most famous necklaces in the world, the one that belonged to the maharajah of Baroda, and included 7 rows of natural pearls. The lot is estimated at 7 million $.
MILAN – The Furniture fair – the most important in the world – will be held from 18 to 23 April at the Fiera di Milano.
PARIS – The ministry of Culture has placed the hotel Lutétia, a remarkable example of Art déco (1910) that will soon be renovated, on the list of sites awaiting to be classified among the historical monuments.
This week do not miss
BILBAO - One of the strong points of the 10th anniversary of the Guggenheim Bilbao is the exhibition dedicated to the last decade of Anselm Kiefer's creations: some one hundred works, of which many from the artist's personal collection, using unusual materials - dust, metal wire, grains, straw, ashes - and knitting strong links with architecture.