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Art Of The Day Weekly

#44 - from 26 April 2007 to 2 May 0200


A European dream

It is a known fact that Europeans do not like to lend.… While the major American institutions are starting to return challenged works to their countries of origin, the museums of the old Continent stay back, as if they foresee the possibility of an uncontrolable bleeding. The officials at the German ministry of Culture have categorically excluded the loan to Egypt of the famous bust of Nefertiti, dating from the XIIIth century B.C. (and discovered by German archeologists at the beginning of the XXth century), even for a temporary exhibition. They say it is because of its fragility. One can easily imagine that it is above all not to give any false hopes nor to awaken the appetite for a return… Yet, a totally different sound comes from London. In an interview granted on 16 April to Bloomberg News, the director of the British Museum, Neil McGregor, did not exclude the possibility of lending the friezes of Elgin temporarily to Greece. What may sound revolutionary is rather a clever way of evading the question as the bottom of the Greek argument is that these fragments had been illegally exported and should therefore come back definitely to its home.But this is already a first gesture and we know that History sometimes goes forward by little steps. One can not help dreaming of a large continental project, to reconstituate all the friezes of the Parthenon by assembling together the Greek fund, that of the British Museum, the one of the Louvre and of a few other institutions. One could easily do it in a hologram. In spite of the respect due to virtual civilization, we cannot help accepting that if it was "for real" it would be completely different…


Champaigne for all!

LILLE – He has the image of an austere painter: somber religious compositions, official portraits – Richelieu the first of them – with tight lips and a hard look. The exhibition mounted at the Palais des beaux-arts in Lille has the discreet ambition of widening our understanding of a painter we too often limit to being the interpreter of the Port-Royal Jansenism, who hs not been the object of a retrospective for nearly half a century. The itinerary is organized in five sections. The first reminds us he was firt of all a Flemish painter: born in 1602 in Brussels, Philippe de Champaigne went to Paris at the age of 19, and became the Queen mothre's favorite painter before expressing Louis XII's monarchic ideal. The exhibit looks at the links he had with the Jansenists (one remembers of course his representation of Mother Agnès Arnault) in order to make a certain nuance: Philippe de Champaigne was not their exclusive herald. He was also close, for example, of the Cartusian ideal. A parallel manifestation, organised at the LAAAC in Dunkirk, has the merit of being iconoclastic: it finds echoes of Champaigne's work in that of Anish Kapoor or Yves Klein !

  • Philippe de Champaigne at the Palais des beaux-arts, from 27 April to 15 August 2007

  • The La Caze affair

    PARIS - Le Pied-bot(The club foot) by Ribera, Gilles by Watteau, or Chardin's La Brioche(The brioche): these works of art the Louvre is so proud of all come from the same collection. Doctor Caze (1789-1869) left this wonderful collection to the museum when he died. An avalanche of paintings – 583 in total – which makes it one of the most important legacies in the institution's history. All the works are not exposed this time: some are in the reserve, others in some one hundred museums in the province, and yet others, in ministries. As one can imagine it is impossible to bring them all together (but the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition has made an remarkable effort in following them all throughout their trips and pilgrimages beyond the museum's walls, while the other paintings not taken out of the other rooms of the Louvre are marked by a red card). It is therefore the core of the collection -some sixty works of art- that have been brought together: the emblematic paintings and a certain number of scattered pieces. It is enough to give a fair idea of the passion that devoured this unusual collector and of the influence he had on art history, by allowing for example Manet or Fantin-Latour to seek a part of their inspiration in the contemplation of his reserve.The paintings are hung in the old fashioned manner, that is up to the ceiling and with quasi antique lighting that does not pay justice to all the works. But we are after all going back 140 years.

  • La collection La Caze at the Louvre museum (la Chapelle room), from 26 April to 9 July 2007. The catalogue with 288 p., directed by Guillaume Faroult, is completed by a CD-ROM (Hazan, 45 €).

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  • Mario Merz, his secret drawings

    TURIN – He is famous for his Igloos in metal, in stone or in glass ans for his Suites of Fibonacci (in the name of the Italian mathematician of the XIIIth century, who baptised this succession where each number is the sum of the two previous ones: 1-2-3-5-8-13) in neon, which he hung even on the rooftops of the Mole Antonelliana. Mario Merz, one of the representatives of Arte povera, the main Italian current in the 1970s, liked nothing more than challenging matter or volume. We are therefore somewhat surprised to discover his secret garden: his drawings. He did not like to show them, as he considered them a vrey personal, very intimate part of his work. There are close to 200, covering all his creative life, from 1951 (pastel and charcoal) to his death in 2003 (pencil and pen). Igloos and suites of Fibonacci of course, but animals and geometric forms as well – cones or triangles - that were one of his obsessions…

  • Mario Merz : Disegni at the Fondazione Merz, from 28 April to 29 July 2007

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    Sicilian Baroque is afraid of oil

    NOTO –An article in the daily La Repubblica dated 23 April launched the alarm – or rather confirms its reality. South-eastern Sicily, the sanctuary of extraordinary baroque art, swarming with statues, the unexpected fruit of the terrible earth quake in 1693, is threatened. Authorisations for oil drillings, conceded to the Texan company Panther Eureka, could become a reality. Are we going to see oil drills in Noto, Syracuse, and Ragusa, some of the richest centres, make the fragil ground vibrate and the discharges contaminate the ground water? The authorisation for core borings, given in 2001 by the regional council in charge of industry, has been pushed back by the region but this annulment itself has just been suspended by the administrative tribunal for a technicality. Public demonstrations are currently being organised in Noto and in the surroundings. The classification by the archeology superintendents of the surrounding zones, in the name of the protected landscapes, could be a solution. But time is of essence…

    Read the article of the Repubblica (in Italian) on the website patrimoniosos.it


    Jorg Immendorf: expressionism bis

    Immendorf, born in 1945, is truly a very colorful character. He was a student of Joseph Beuys' at the art school of Dusseldorf, from wich he was expelled. He wouId return years later but in a different situation, as professor . At the beginning of the year 2000, he was involved in a scandal of parties with prostitutes and cocaïne but remains a respected artist: it is said that he was Chancellor Schroeder's favorite artist and the portrait he made of the statesman was just made public at the beginning of 2007. His paintings, often of very big dimensions (2 or 3 metres per side), in bright colors (red, yellow, black) of course bring him close to the new German expressionnists, in particular because his message often has a political meaning (reunification of the two Germanies, globalisation, art increasingly reduced to its commercial aspect). The Galerie de France presents some fifteen paintings, made possible through the partnership it built for this year with German gallery owner Michael Werner. Any new paintings? Yes, but they are no longer the work of his hand. For some years now, Immendorf has been very handicaped by a neuro-degenerative illness and his compositions today are carried out by his assistants, whom he directs.

  • Jorg Immendorf at la gallerie de France, 54, rue de la Verrerie, 75004 Paris, from 28 April to 26 May 2007

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    The keys to Oceanic art

    Now that the Quai Branly museum sheds a new light on the " first forms of art " the time has come to explore each facet more in detail. This is the case here, together with the exhibition currently showing on New-Ireland. The principle of the collection is to initiate the public, not by theoretic speeches, but rather through a presentation of chosen objects, each used to illustrate a facet of the social life on the islands. From the kanak currency to the flute ornament, from the funerary representation to the helmet with a feather, these «signs» are put in perspective and completed, as much as possible, by images of today (celebrations, initiation rites). In conclusion, we benefit from a detailed explanation on the traditional motifs used by aboriginous painter John Mawurndjul, the author of an afresco on the ceiling of the library of the Quai Branly museum .

  • L’art océanien par Gabrielle Baglione et Magali Melandri, Scala, 2007, ISBN : 978-2-86656-390-5, 128 p., 15 €

    Buy that book from Amazon


    CHICAGO – Art Chicago will be held from 26 to 30 April at the Merchandise Mart. Next to the contemporary art fair, called Artropolis, 4 other events dedicated to ancient art will be held, with emerging artists or outsider art.

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    MEXICO -The contemporary art fair MACO Mexico, that will host close to 80 galleries, will be held from 25 to 29 April in the Mexican capital. Aside from a great number of local artists, known artists have come as well, such as David Zwirner, Ernst Hilger ou Yvon Lambert.

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    PARIS -Designer John Galliano, the brain at Dior, has just been condemned for counterfeit. He had imitated in various publications the concept of the "painted contact sheet", invented by photographer William Klein.

    PARIS – The International Antiquarian Book Fair, created in 1984 at the Conciergerie, is now at the Grand Palais for the 2007 edition, to be held from 26 to 29 April 2007. From the incunabulum to the ticket of Marcel Proust, nearly 50 000 documents of all times and all types (books, geography maps, surrealist pamphlets, etc) present 154 librairies and 35 galleries of prints, from all over the world.

    The Salon website

    VIENNA - The Viennafair hosts some one hundred contemporary art galleries, from twent y different countries, from 26 to 29 April. It is contemporary to the opening of an art supermarket, the M-ars.

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    This week, do not miss

    Mines and miners between reality and imagination

    ROUBAIX – The Archives nationales of the labor world unveil a part of their very rich collections: archives dating from 1773 to 1998 tell the story of two centuries of mining in France – social and technical progress as well as catastrophes or strikes. In 400 documents, one penetrates a world that for a long time had an essential weight in the political life– from Jaurès to Thorez – up to the unavoidable shutting down of the coal mines at the end of the XXth century.

    Read the article