Art Of The Day Weekly
#67 - from 22 November 2007 to 28 November 2007
IN THE AIR
Nothing left to sell
One of the threats that weigh over the art market - or which is often waved in front of our eyes in any case - is the increased scarcity of masterpieces. All the great masters will soon be in the museums and the buyers will be constrained to tear each other apart in auctions in front of second hand paintings. A backroom Picasso, a poor Matisse or a vulgar Gauguin… Fortunately we are not there yet: for the time being unexpected discoveries and non-scheduled reappearances belie the prophets of misfortune. We recently saw a remarkable Schiele pop up in Strasbourg (The Sunflowers) ou a Rembrandt appear in the English countryside. The latest surprise was given by a Turner thought to be put away for ever - as it was in the collection of a wealthy family, that of Vanderbilt, the former steel magnate -and it now appears again to be auctioned (at Sotheby's on 5 December). It is the Castle of Bamborough, considered in its time (1837) as one of the most beautiful watercolors in history. As certain museums are also selling their funds (the Albright-Knox in Buffalo), the spectre of a trickling of the market seems to be fading away. Especially as the question of the alienation of public collections is also back in the limelight in France, where the minister of Culture has just entrusted Jacques Rigaud with a mission to study this taboo subject…
BRESCIA – Marco Goldin has made himself known as an organizer of impressionist exhibitions, that have attracted a very large public (up to 700 000 visitors) in a location far from the major cultural circuits: la Casa dei Carraresi in Treviso. He is now based in Brescia, and is trying to folllow in his own successful footsteps with other themes. Following «Painters and snow», here we have «America!», a superproduction dedicated to painting in the United-States in the XIXth century, bringing together 400 works, including paintings, sculptures and photographs, from the Hudson school (Eakins, Homer, with 50 paintings from the museum of Hartford) up to the ritual objects of the Indians, exotic landscapes by William Bradford and even the famous photograph Man's hand by Alfred Stieglitz. While the media fuss can be a nuisance for some (Goldin carried out a real tour of all the theaters in Italy to present the project), the will to create an event is undeniable. He has also organized cycles of movies, shows, debates, with the participation of specialists on the USA, as well as journalists (Furio Colombo), basketball players (Dino Meneghin) or famous actors (Arnaldo Foà). A sort of Barnum, behind which one can feel the ambition of inaugurating a new way of organizing temporary exhibitions…
Alechinsky, a life after Cobra
BRUSSELS – One immediately associates him to the Cobra movement. And yet Cobra was dissolved in 1951…Obviously traces remain in Alechinsky's work after taht period from his adventure with Karel Appel, Asger Jorn, Corneille, Constant and Dotremont: such as the free figures, the intense chromaticism or the use of certain recurrent animal forms, such as the serpent. But the youngest of the group (he was born in 1927) then explored other routes, in particular calligraphy, which led him all the way to Japan, where he made the movie Japanese Calligraphy in 1955. His larger interest in books can be detected in the « infeuilletables » (porcelain books) or in his paintings called «with marginal remarks» in which the main subject is surrounded by illustrations, a little like sketches or notes at the bottom of the page enrich a text. The exhibition organized for the Alechinsky's 80th anniversary covers all his career, from his first works as a student typographer in 1947 up to his drawings of these last few years.
When Versailles shone with 1000 lights
VERSAILLES – While Louis XIV never dared touch the painting collections he inherited from his predecessors, he did not react in the same way with the silver objects. He sacrificed it all in 1689 to finance his expensive war against the Ligue of Augsbourg. How could pieces that no longer exist, and that fascinated the visitors of Versailles, be exposed? Among these pieces the solid, half a ton, silver mirrors or the ewers as tall as a man? The solution consists in a smart about-turn: the curators asked European museums to lend objects that are equivalent and from the same era and have asked Jacques Garcia to create a dazzling setting in the Grand Appartement of the King. The huge candelabra, the cassolettes, the vases threfore all come from cousin institutions that were better at absorbing (at least in this field) the stirs of History: the Rosenborg castle in Denmark (closed for restorations, is the largest contributor), from Windsor and Chatsworth in England, from Forchtenstein in Austria (see the article a little further down in the Books section), from Hohenzollern or from the Kremlin. In total, 150 objects of art will make us relive the splendors of the Sun-King: an era of grandeur that definitely seems to be coming back into fashion …
Impressions of Africa
BAMAKO – Slowly but - we hope - surely, Africa tries to occupy the place that it deserves in contemporary creation. The Rencontres africaines de la photographie in Bamako, the young cousins of the festival of Arles, are among the events, with the Biennale de Dakar, that have an international aura. Created in 1996, this event will be held for the 7th consecutive year, directed by commissaire Simon Njami. From Maksim Armand Seth to Michel Tsegay, without forgetting Pierrot Men, some fifty photographers illustrate the theme «In the city and beyond»: does the African city have a center? How are its districts born and how do they live? From the matiti in Libreville to the townships of the Cape or the bourgeois neighborhoods in Abidjan, the typologies are as varied as they are in the West and they authorise various, varied looks. The value of Seydou Keita's and Samuel Fosso's work, the reward recently granted to Malick Sidibé (Golden Lion at the biennale of Venice) demonstrate that African photography is finally reaching the recognition it deserves.
ARTIST OF THE WEEK
Looking South Over Panum Crater, A Young Plug-Dome Volcano That Erupted in 1375 AD, Mono Lake, California © Michael Light - Courtesy galerie Luc Bellier
Michael Light: seen from the top
Aerial photography is not a new discipline even if Yann Arthus-Bertrand seems to have been made the sole authorized depositary in the eyes of the public at large. American artist Michael Light (born in California in 1963) is another significant example and has just been rewarded the John Simon prize by the Guggenheim. Deserts, glaciers: Michael Light has flown over extreme sites. But his work also resembles that of Edward Burtynsky or, at other moments, that of Mario Giacomelli. Like them, Michael Light studies the traces man leaves on Earth, while modifying its texture, the form, the light:
cities at night, urban highways or industrial landscapes that sometimes take on the appearance of fields of ruins… but the faculty of judging is left to the spectator. A notable detail, Light doubles his activity as a photographer with that of a researcher. Consequently he has reviewed over 30 000 snapshots taken by the American Air Force of nuclear experimental sites to make a personal choice in 100 Suns.
Treasures of Hungary
There still remain a certain number of beautiful mysteries to be solved in the history of art. There is this one for example: when did the Madona Esterházy, a more than famous painting by Raphaello, enter the collection of the princes of the same name? No one knows… It must be said that the goods of this family, the greatest land owners in in Hungary in the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries, were unlimited, both in terms of castles (Eisenstadt, Esterháza, Forchtenstein) as well as in works of art. When the heir ceded the greatest part in 1870 – that is 637 paintings, 3535 drawings and 51301 prints – it became the base to the current museum of the Beaux-Arts of Budapest. The catalogue that accompanies the exhibition at the castle of Compiègne, presents the emblematic figur of the family, Nicolas II, great elector of the Emperor of Austria-Hungary, a lover of France (he had a house on rue Le Peletier, in Paris), of music (his correspondence with Beethoven is presented), of gardens, of architecture (one can admire the drawings commissioned to Charles Moreau to modify the castle of Eisenstadt) and, of course, of painting. Aside from the notes on the works, in particular important ones by Ribera, Régnier, Jordaens or Bellotto, the work is worthy for the manner in which it puts into perspective a great family of patrons from Eastern Europe who, while being as important as the dukes of Devonshire in Chatsworth or the Farnèse, remains badly known here in Western Europe.
ABU DHABI – Art Abu Dhabi, set up by the organizers of Art Paris, will be held from 27 to 29 November, with the participation of some fifty international galeries.
AVIGNON – The visitor guilty of having kissed and stained a white painting by Cy Twombly at the Lambert foundation last Summer has been condemned to a fine of 1500 € for damages and to 100 hours of general services.
LASCAUX - The international scientific Committee of the cave of Lascaux announces the white mildew that started appearing a few years ago, is receeding. On the other hand, some black mildew has appeared, and this will entail a new treatment and the forced rest of the cave (no human presence) for three months.
NEW YORK – Following Sotheby’s absence during the modern and Impressionist art sales, that gave free rein to fears about the market's solidity , the sessions of 14-15 November, dedicated to contemporary art, reassured everyone: 325 million $ (with a world record for a Lucian Freud, Ib and her Husband at 19.3 million $) at Christie’s and 316 million $ at Sotheby’s (with a world record for Koons, Hanging Heart at 23.6 million $).
PARIS – The Rencontres internationales Paris/Berlin/Madrid, at the crossroads of cinema and contemporary art, will take place in Paris from 22 November to 1st December in various locations (Centre Pompidou, Jeu de Paume, Palais de Tokyo, the Entrepôt cinema).
PARIS – A piece of the Eiffel tower, estimated at 20 000 €, was sold for 180 000 € on 19 October by the Ader practice.
PARIS – The salon Art en Capital will be held at the Grand Palais from 22 November to 2 December. In the meantime, the Mac, Manifestation d’art contemporain, will welcome 130 artists at the Espace Porte de Champerret, from 22 to 25 November.
ROME – The event «Luci nell’arte», which commissions contemporary artists with light installations around archeologic sites, will begin on 24 and 25 November with creations by Zimmerfrei in the crypt of the church of San Crisogono and by Paolo Chiasera at the Museo delle Mura.
STRASBOURG – The 12th edition of the St’art fair wil be held from 23 to 26 November with the participation of nearly 100 galleries. The countries honored are Spain and the Benelux.
A L' ŒIL, A TRIBUTE TO ALPHONSE ALLAIS
CHALON-SUR-SAÔNE - Clodhoppers, penguins from Carnivals, a child dressed up as a ball of wool: all of these images would have greatly pleased Alphonse Allais, they are so close to his universe. In reality these are anonymous photographs taken from the funds of the Nicéphore Niépce museum…