Art Of The Day Weekly
#54 - from 5 July 2007 to 11 July 2007
IN THE AIR
Monuments too have their Pop Idol
When it began to draw up its list of world heritage in 1978, the Unesco was far from imagining the media success it would have. While the stock is now up to 851 symbolic sites of beauty in the world, the list has become a sort of hit-parade, with its annual «nominees», a cause for patriotic pride for the countries concerned. The initial objective was the preservation of patrimony increasingly visited, to the point of being endangered by the commercial exploitation of this «label». All on its own it can drain large crowds of tourists. Undoubtedly aware of these excesses, the Unesco reacted with unusual vigor to distinguish itself from the private initiative aiming at choosing (through a vote over internet) 7 new wonders of the world. Among the names chosen - relatively «new» since we see Chichen Itza as well as Petra, the Eiffel Tower and the Sidney opera house-,the winner will be named on 7 July in Lisbon. This is just a survey, in the same vein as those staged to choose a country's most important historical figure. This is an unfortunate excess, inspired from the barometers of politics: the role of archeologists, architects and historians is reduced to that of a foil on television programs, and science is invited to give up its place to irrational emotion or to nationalist impulses. This must be what is referred to as the society of information.
JOACHIM PATINIR Landscape with St Christopher detail
Patinir, the inventor of landscape painting
MADRID – The public at large does not know him well, but his CV is most impressive. This Flemish artist, who was active in the first quarter of the XVIth century, is indeed considered as the first to have made landscape painting a genre of its own. Mountains, hills and water streams are no longer the setting for an episode from the Bible but become the main characters of a painting. Unfortunately, Patinir, who had settled in the most active town of his time, Antwerp, left very few paintings.
His catalogue raisonné, published for this retrospective, only has some thirty undisputable works of his, of which we can admire three fourths including, among others, the Saint Christopher from the Escorial, Charon crossing the Styx from the Prado or the Martyrdom of Saint Catherine from the Kunsthistoriches Museum in Vienna. To widen the demonstration, the curators decided to confront them with paintings by the painter's contemporaries or those of his disciples, such as Dürer, Bosch or Dirk Bouts.
Richard Long, the stone age
EDIMBURGH – He is one of the best known exhibiting artists from the Land Art. His installations are less spectacular than those by Robert Smithson or Christo, less colorful than those of Nuls-Udo, but they have something more «vital». They are simple stone circles, that remind us of the shapes at Stonehenge or other similar constructions in the Orkneys. These are paths that have been treaded. These are walls that are covered with mud. These are roads marked by blocks of granite. The art of Richard Long (born in 1945) is above all the art of deambulating, of the eye set on the world, throughout the five continents. Four decades of work, induced by ritual walks, are being shown in Scotland(among them the Stone Line from 1980, that belongs to the museum). New creations are also presented: large drawings of earth walls and a sculpture in the form of a cross, using slate from Cornwall, will remain in the museum after the exhibition.
David on the operating table
FLORENCE – He is considered as the first nude of Renaissance statuary, at the time in search of the perfection of the antique masters. Donatello's delicate David, delivered to Como the elder at the beginning of the 1440s, is currently undergoing a restoration campaign. It ha snot been locked up in specialized laboratories, as is generally the case, but has remained where he has been since 1865, at the Bargello museum, where on the contrary the restorers have moved to. The restoration, using the technique of the laser, and financed up to 200 000 € by the Presidence of the council, began on 26 June and will last 18 months. The aim is to remove the patina that was applied in the XVIIIth century to give the statue a somber aspect. This oepration should allow us to admire the traces of gold Donatello had putin the hair of the biblical hero.
Christie's and Sotheby's dabble in ancient art
883,1 millions $: according to Bloomberg's calculations this should be the amount of the impressionist and modern art sales carried out in June 2007 by Christie’s and Sotheby’s. That means 51% more than last year. The good state of the art market is reflected in Sotheby’s semestrial revenue, up 41% (at 2.76 billion $), or in Christie’s France excellent performance, with a semester at more than 100 million €, very far from its French competitors. The question is, when will this boom, fed by the new Chinese, Russian or American money, come to an end? This week, when the old masters enter the scene? No one really thinks so. At Christie’s, a Rafaello is on the front line: the Portrait of Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici estimated between 10 and 15 million £ (on 5 July). At Sotheby’s, on the same day, we discovered, to level things out, a Turner evaluated in the same way (actually it is an ensemble of 14 watercolors). The dual between the two super powers shows no sign of running out of steam.
ARTIST OF THE WEEK
Felice Varini 8 excentric circles n°1 Galerie Jennifer Flay, Paris, Mai 1998
Felice Varini draws the line
Born in Locarno, Switzerland, in 1952, Felice Varini often sees his work put in parallel with that of Georges Rousse. The two artists have the specialty of playing with spaces, of transforming them lightly to give birth to optic illusions. Felice Varini first carries out an architectural analysis of the spaces where he is meant to intervene. Then he defines a unique point of view. It is at that moment, and only then that the visitor should settle down to feel the change in the space that is not apparent elsewhere.
The principle is that of the anamorphosis used by a few great painters (the best known being Holbein, who represented a skull in the painting of the Ambassadeurs): the drawn figure can only be recognized from a given spot. Needless to say, the art of Varini, who intervenes by drawing colored, geometric forms, is an integral part of temporary installations. Following the exhibition at the musée Bourdelle, in the Spring of 2006, we can see another example at the Maison Rouge.
The Quai Branly, a thinking forum
While the museum of Quai Branly has experienced an unexpected attendance success, it would also liked to be known for its role in studies and research. The proceedings from the inaugural symposium, held on 21 June 2006, demonstrate its ambitions in this field. The speakers came from various continents and their debates dealt with various themes. How to welcome contemporary art in this type of museum? How do we represent in all fairness immaterial patrimonies? How do we define the authenticity of an object? What publics do we welcome and why? The interest in reading these proceedigns comes from the very opiniated remards by participants (for example Maurice Godelier, who undoubteldy has his reasons…) or the quality of the examples given, that allows one to go beyond a simple theoretic conversation between professors. As an example, the case presented by James Clifford, from the museum of Oakland in Californie, who succeeded in catching the interest of the Chicanos after allowing them to set up their altars for the day of the Dead, speaks for itself. This is an original initiative that is more efficient in reaching new publics, than the visits that are ill prepared for bored and noisy school children.
BORDEAUX – The port de la Lune has been registered on the World heritage list of the Unesco, next to 21 other cultural and natural sites, among them the Opera of Sydney, the Parthian fortresses in Nisa (Turkmenistan) or the campus of the university of Mexico
GATESHEAD – The Baltic Center launches a call for video projects for the DEO7 manifestation to be held from 11 to 28 October 2007 on the theme «How do we wish to live?» To be sent before 10 August.
CAIRO – The director of Egyptian Antiquities, Zawi Hawass, has officially announced the rediscovery of the mummy of Pharaohness Hatchepsout. A DNA test on one of her teeth, found in a reliquary, coincides with that of a mummy kept in the basement of the Cairo museum.
NEW YORK – The World Monuments Fund publishes every two years a list of threatened monuments. In the last edition dated June 2007 we see in particular Route 66, the mosque of Chinguetti and the old town of Famagouste.
PARIS – The administrative and financial director of the Cartier foundation, Sylvie Dumas, was murdered on 30 June with various knife stabs, by a neighbor she had gone to see to complain of a smell of something burning. The murderer, a student at Sciences Po (the Paris Political Sciences Institute), then committed suicide by throwing himself out the window.
PARIS – The project that won for the renovation of the Forum des Halles is the Canopy of Patrick Berger and Jacques Anziutti.
ROME – From 12 July to 20 September, four subterranean monuments in the Italian capital will be illuminated by six contemporary artists, among them Vanessa Beecroft and Eva Marisaldi.