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Art Of The Day Weekly

#90 - from 15 May 2008 to 21 May 2008


Egypt = pyramids?

Egypt is going to find itself in the limelight from 18 to 20 May with a World Economic Forum on the Middle East held at Charm-el-Cheikh and which will be attended by a great number of heads of State. If there is any time left on the cultural agenda, there is strong reason to believe there will be a Pharaonic tone to the event. When the colossal museum of the Pyramids will be finished (expected for 2011), there is a risk the concentration of visitors towards a limited number of star sites will worsen. The same phenomenon occurs in the Western world with the excessive media coverage of large exhibitions, but the consequences could be much more damaging elsewhere. Cairo, just to take that example, has dozens of fascinating museums more or less unknown (Gayer-Anderson, Mahmoud Khalil, Coptic, Islamic art, not to mention those of the Post Office or the one of Modern art). When the tourists will be completely redirected towards Gizeh (the current Egyptian museum on Tahrir Square must close, at least for renovation), what will become of all these museums? Will they be strong enough to survive? Must we give in, in this increasingly simplifying world, and resume Egypt to is sole pyramids and pharaohs?


When the Flemish cross the Channel

BRUSSELS – We have heard of bizarre ideas, but to go to Belgium for an English collection of Flemish paintings is a bit far fetched. And yet, the offer is announced backed up by a strong advertising campaign. The reason is very simple: the collection is one of the finest and is rarely shown - it is Queen Elizabeth's. Those of us who did not make it to Edinburgh where it was previously shown will therefore be able to catch up with its very rich program: some fifty works by Metsys, Bruegel, Teniers, Rubens, Van Dyck and their peers. What is interesting is to be able to confront these exceptional pieces with other paintings kept at the musées royaux des Beaux-Arts. The Massacre of the Innocent by Bruegel the Elder for example is put face to face with The census at Bethlehem and the sketch of the Assumption of the Virgin by Rubens will push the spectators to go see the altarpiece itself, kept in another room.

  • The British Collection, from Bruegel to Rubens at the museum of Old and Modern Art, from 16 May to 21 September 2008

    The website of the musées Royaux des Beaux Arts

  • Villeglé, a first

    EPINAL - He waited for a long time, but he finally got it... We are refering to the first monographic exhibition dedicated to Jacques Villeglé in a museum of contemporary art in France: justice has finally been made in the French province, in the Vosges region. One of the last survivors of the group of the New Realists (with Spoerri and Raysse), who was given his place with the retrospective at the Grand Palais in the Spring of 2007, will present all of his work, from the first unglued posters to the more recent creations, statues, banners or tapestries. In total, some one hundred works, from the end of the forties to today, from seven public and private collections, among them a 22 metre long "slashed work". One sculpture, called the Social-political memorial, will be permanently set up in the garden.

  • Jacques Villeglé at the musée départemental d’Art ancien et contemporain, from 17 May to 1st September 2008

  • Olivetti, a culture fluid

    TORINO – To the French and other nationalities, Olivetti is a typewriter. Preferably red, with black keys. To the Italians, it is a myth: a company directed by a visionary, Adriano Olivetti (1901-1960), a friend of Giò Ponti’s, of Moravia’s or the president of the Republic Luigi Einaudi, who knew how to merge industry, design, art and social protection in an utopia he saw all the way through. Between bankruptcy and restructuring, the Olivetti myth has somewhat grown pale but it surely deserves to have its one hundred years celebrated in full style. The exhibition retraces the company’s itinerary, its avant-garde products (among them the MP1, the first portable typewriter in 1932, the Lettera 22 elected in 1959 the object of the century, the Divisumma 24 calculator) and the workers’ garden city of Ivrea. The quasi blood relations with design (Sottsass, Nizzoli and others) or architecture (Figini, Gardella, Aulenti) are at the heart of the project and illustrate a beautiful love story between creation and production.

  • Olivetti, una bella società at the Società Promotrice delle Belle Arti, from 16 May to 27 July 2008

    The website of Adriano Olivetti


    The return of Breton's Manifeste

    PARIS-It is such an icon of XXth century culture that it is hard to believe the estimates: only 300 000 € for the Manifeste du surréalisme by André Breton, in its unique known hand written version? Very few documents regarding the avant-garde movements during the period between the two wars have had such repercussions, and at this price quite a number of American museums would be willing to pull out their checkbook. They will undoubtedly be discouraged by a possible preemption on the part of the French State, who will not want such an important piece of the national heritage to leave the country… The manuscript, written in 1924 over 19 pages of cream colored vellum paper, belongs to the collection of Simone Collinet (1897-1980), André Breton’s first wife, who after their separation in 1929 held an art gallery at Saint-Germain-des-Prés, where she was in particular the first person to rediscover Arcimboldo. There are other important manuscripts of Breton’s in this sale, among them Poisson soluble (Soluble fish) and a few notebooks of automatic writing.

  • Livres, manuscrits et photographies at Sotheby’s Paris, on 21 May 2008. Exhibition from 16 to 20 May, from 10 AM to 6 PM (until 8 PM on 20 May)

    The website of Sotheby's


    Lovers in Paradise, huile sur toile, 1980, courtesy galerie Dartha Speyer, Paris

    Peter Dean: stones and pigments

    It is rare that someone be a painter and a geologist at the same time. Nevertheless, Peter Dean (1934-1993) is an example. One would think that the fact of observing colors and forms from the mineral world would have pushed the American artist in an abstract direction. It was not at all the case: Peter Dean was fundamentally figurative and even militated with Leon Golub and Peter Saul in the group Torque, which meant to be a movement of opposition to the minimalist and conceptual art that dominated the artistic scene at the end of the sixties. Dean's intensely colored universe draws its inspiration from traditional arts, from naive painting, from the world of shamanism. His trips to South America, and in particular to Brazil, strenghthened his exuberant style which he used to fight

    against a certain number of injustices, from the American military interventions to the life in the black ghettos. It is not easy to see works by this «outsider» artist. The Akron Museum, in Ohio, owns a significant number.

  • Peter Dean at the Darthea Speyer gallery (6, rue Jacques-Callot, 75006 Paris), until 10 May 2008.


    The Comedy Botticelli drew

    In the fall of 2003, during the Botticelli exhibition at the Luxembourg museum in Paris, we had been greatly disappointed not to see one single drawing of the Divine Comedy. And yet it was one of the major works of the Florentine artist, who dedicated ten years of his life to it. We still do not know today whether he responded to a commission or followed a personal impulse. 92 of these drawings are known, since after they disappeared from Florence they reappeared on the antique market of Paris during the XVIIth and XIXth centuries. Most of them - 84 - are now kept at the Drawing and Print Cabinet of Berlin, the rest at the Vatican library. This edition of the Divine Comedy, illustrated in this manner, had been offered by Diane de Selliers a few years ago. Today it reappears in a more economic but proper version: the drawings are on folded pages, they are neither cut nor dissociated. We do regret not seeing the Italian text next to Jacqueline Risset's translation. On the other hand we have a detailed iconographic commentary for each drawing.

  • La Divine Comédie de Dante illustrée par Botticelli, Diane de Selliers publishing house, 506 p., 60 €, ISBN : 9-782903-656423.

    Buy that book from Amazon


    CARDIFF – The 3rd biennial Artes Mundi prize of contemporary art, one of the most endowed in the world (40 000 £), has been given to Indian artist N S Harsha.

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    PARIS - La Nuit des musées,-The night of the museums- with the extended and non-paying opening of a great number of institutions, some until 1:00 AM, is organized this year on 17 May.

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    PARIS - Les Temps forts, the presentation of the most beautiful sales to come, will be held at Drouot, from 20 to 25 May 2008. Among other works we will see a portrait of Cocteau by Warhol (4 to 6 million €, at Aguttes on 25 June) and Napoleon's throne of representation (400 000 to 450 000 € at Piasa's on 18 June).

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    PARIS – To celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of the birthday of cartoonist Hergé, the creator of Tintin, his widow Fanny Rodwell has donated to the Pompidou Center an original plate of L’Affaire Tournesol, from 1955.

    PARIS – During the event «Le petit pan de mur jaune», on 21 May, six writers will read their creations in front of the works that inspired them.

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    REYKJAVIK - The festival of visual arts of the capital of Iceland wil be held from 15 May to 5 June and will include in particular an «Experimental Marathon» directed by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Olafur Eliasson.

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    TORINO – The Torino Photo Festival will be held from 15 May to 15 June in various museums, galleries and cultural venues in the city.

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    This week, do not miss


    RENNES - An ambitious, new rendez-vous will open at the Couvent des Jacobins and in the main cultural venues of the city. This biennale has the ambition of confronting art and the corporate world. The exhibitions presented under the title Valeurs croisées (Crossed values) group together some sixty French and foreign artists.

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