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Art Of The Day Weekly

#72 - from 10 January 2008 to 16 January 2008


Extension of the domaine of the black stain

LASCAUX – Who will come save Lascaux ? This is the question that stays on the tip of the tongue of foreign experts, of which some, such as the International Committee for the preservation of Lascaux, ask that the French government no longer be in charge of managing the famous caves. After a victory against a white mold at the beginning of this century, a new ventilation system seems to have had the opposite effect of what was expected, and has favored the development of new black fungus. The caves, discovered in 1940, are no longer open to the public since 1963 and only a few lucky, selected scientists may access them. Since 1 January 2008, they are totally closed for a three month period. This is no good news for the French Minister of Culture, Christine Albanel : the audit company in charge of evaluating the performances of the ministers rmay penalize her for this loss in attendance.


Status quo on the ivory cost

LONDRES - Kenneth Thomson (1923-2006), who was not a major but rather a lord, baron of the Anglo-Saxon press, was also one of the greatest benefactors of Canadian culture. The national gallery of Ontario that will unveil its new building at the end of 2008, houses his collection, estimated at various hundreds of millions of dollars (it includes in particular the Massacre of the innocent, by Rubens, that created such a stir when it was bought at an auction a few years ago). One of the most impressive sides of his fund is exhibited in London: these are the Medieval ivories - master pieces of sculpture that cover from Biblical scenes to the memento mori (skulls filled with worms). The highlight of the exhibition was visible in Paris just two months ago. It is a diptych on the Passion of Christ from the Dormeuil collection. When the collection was scattered, it had broken a new record for an object in ivory and went for 4 million euros. We now know who the buyer was...

  • Medieval Ivories from the Thomson Collection at the Courtauld Gallery, from 10 January to 9 March 2008

    The website of the Somerset gallery

  • You can come home again

    ROME - The image chosen for the poster is very symbolic: a marble statue from the IIth century representing the beautiful Vibia Sabina. Trajan's niece, she was also Emperor Hadrian's wife, « who chose to put an end to Rome's conquests of territories to dedicate himself to the management of his cultural patrimony ». This is how Louis Godart, the adviser to the presidency of the Italian Republic, interprets the work of art just recently back in its country. It rubs elbows with 66 other ones in an exhibition that opened right before Christmas and which groups together the work returned by four major American museums (the Metropolitan in New York, the Getty, the museums of Fine Arts in Boston and of the university of Princeton). There are a number of masterpieces – marble busts, Attic craters, Etruscan vases - which the institutions from the New World ended up by relinquishing in exchange for other objects lent on the long term. The minister of Culture, Francesco Rutelli, was very proud to see these works back and has announced that his country has returned a gold mask to Peru and other objects illegally imported from Pakistan and Iran.

  • Nostoi, capolavori ritrovati at the Palace of the Quirinale, until 2 March 2008.

    The website of the Quirinale palace

  • Steichen, on the fashion side

    ZURICH – Those who were impressed by the exhibition that just closed at the Jeu de paume, where we discovered the creative wealth of a photographer too often reduced to the pictorialism of his beginnings, will now be entitled to a beautiful Swiss extension. The museum of the Elysée in Lausanne hosts the second European stop of the retrospective while the Kunsthaus in Zurich returns on one of the most profitable aspects of Edward Steichen's activity (1879-1973), fashion. After various trips between Europe and America, after doing both the portrait of Balzac as well as directed military services of aerial photographs, Steichen responded in 1923 to Condé Nast's invitation to direct the photo service of Vanity Fair and Vogue. He was oblivious of the criticisms of his colleagues, such as Paul Strand, and did not feel his art was depreciated. So he staged the models of great designers in a very brilliantly lit, perfected style, totally the opposite to his first period. The 180 photos exhibited are all originals and allow us to render tribute to another art form, that of developping.

  • Steichen, in High Fashion 1923-1937 at the Kunsthaus, from 11 January to 30 March 2008

    The website of Kinsthaus Zurich


    Daniel Buren, Hors les Murs Courtesy galerie Kamel Mennour

    Buren's gang

    PARIS – In the mind of the public at large, here is an artist who uscceeded in becoming one with his obsessional motive, bands. In a constant width – 8.7 cm – he has placed it on urban fences (in the 60s), in happenings remained famous (such as the one in 1967 in Paris with his colleagues Mosset, Parmentier and Toroni), in the heart of the Guggenheim (creating once again a beautiful scandal in 1971), up to thePalais-Royal where his installation

    Deux Plateaux, known as «Buren's columns», broadcast his name throughout the various stratta of the population (1986). Golden Lion at the Biennale of Venice that same year, Buren has included in his artistic practice other colors than black and white, other formats than the vertical band. The exhibition at Beaubourg in 2002 gave fame to his concept of the «exploded cabin», in which elements from a cube of the base – a square window for example – is thrown against an adjacent wall. This game of expansion in space finds a new expression at the Kamel Mennour gallery, with the inauguration this time of a new space in a private town house on rue Saint-André-des-Arts.

  • Daniel Buren, « C’était, c’est, ce sera », works located on site at the Kamel Mennour gallery, 47 rue Saint-André-des-Arts, 75006 Paris, until 19 January 2008

    The website of the Kamel Mennour gallery


    Sotheby's catches up with Christie's

    NEW YORK - According to financial analyst George Sutton from Craig-Callum Capital Group, quoted by the Bloomberg agency, Sotheby's this year should lift itsef up to the level of its rival Christie's in terms of volumes of sale, afer been surpassed in 2005 and 2006. In spite of a catastrophic evening in November, in which its share shoot down after a landscape by Van Gogh was reduced, the auction house recorded revenue of 6 billion dollars, comparable to what Christie's should soon announce. An important part - nearly 10% - now comes from private sales (the most significatn example is the block purchase, last autumn, of the Rostropovitch collection by the Russian oligarch Alisher Usmanov). On the French market, Sotheby's has made great progress, overcoming for the first time the barrier of the 100 million euros (119 million). It is far behind its rival nevertheless, who sold for 185.9 million euros, breaking in doing so 101 world records on the Parisian market place.


    Sumptuous Moghol parenthesis

    This is a book on ancient art that can be read as an extension of current events: indeed il describes the masterpieces of the Moghols, a dynasty from Uzbekistan, that linked the destinies of India and Pakitan from 1526 to 1868. As proof, the main monuments of these Muslim princes were both in Delhi and Agra as Lahore. Following a brief historical introduction that recalls the main deeds of Babur, Akbar, Aurangzeb and their descendents, from the conquest of the Deccan to the epilogue of the revolt of the Cipayes, the author prefered an approach by theme. Rather than list the sites, he looks at Moghol art through the angles of geometry, calligraphy, flowers, animals. The octagon and the et le chevron (symbols of Paradise), the verses of the Koran, the tulip or the Bactriane camel are printed not only in the form of its gardens but in the handles of daggers, in the reliefs in red sandstone as well as in objects in white jade. This work, directly translated from Indian, reminds us that behind the Taj Mahal and the illuminations, Moghol art undertook many other forms, all characterised by an extraordinary decortive finesse.

  • Splendeurs mogholes, art et architecture dans l'Inde islamique, 2007, 288 p., 49 €, ISBN : 978-2-07-01908-0

    Buy that book from Amazon


    ALBI - During its restructuring, the Toulouse-Lautrec museum has closed for three months, until the end of March.

    The website of the Toulouse Lautrec museum

    MOSCOW - The tallest building in the world will be built in Moscow: Norman Foster's project, called "Crystal island", has been approved by the authorities. The 500 meter-tall building in the shape of a clown's hat, will house upon completion in 2012, thousands of apartments and hotel rooms, three theaters and office space.

    NEW YORK - According to information revealed by journalist Lee Rosenbaum, the antique bronze statue of Artemis and the stag, from the Albright-Knox museum in Buffalo and sold at the record price of 25 million $ last June, was very discreetly integrated to the collections of the Metropolitan Museum.

    The blog of Lee Rosenbaum on artsjournal.com

    PARIS - Since 1st January and for a six-month test period, 14 national museums have adopted free admission.

    PRAGUE - Architect Jan Kaplicky is the winner of the contest for the new building of the National Czech Library. His project, called "the octopus" by its opponents, is a colored biomorphic form.

    Can be seen on the website of The Guardian

    ROUEN - The discussion between the municipality of Rouen, that wishes to return a mumified Maori head to New-Zealand, and the ministry of Culture,h s entered a new dimension. Given the veto from the Administrative Court, the person in charge of culture at the town hall, a Senator as well, Catherine Morin-Desailly, announced she would deposit a bill regarding the return of human remains.

    STRASBOURG - The latest creation of the Zénith - theaters in different towns in France - a été inauguré début janvier dans la capitale alsacienne. Il est dû à l'architecte italien Massimilano Fuksas.