Art Of The Day Weekly
#92 - from 29 May 2008 to 5 June 2008
IN THE AIR
No nude mummies please, we are British!
Who said our era was one of freedom, be it permissiveness? No doubt television and the Internet have brought about some surprises. Big Sister, a very interesting work by photographer Hana Jakrlova, is on the theme of an «internet whorehouse » in Prague, where clients benefit from substantial paybacks as long as they accept that their moments of intimacy become public property. At the same time, another novelty of another type comes from Manchester. The famous mummies at the museum, in particular that of the man of Asru, have just been informed they were indecent. The public – in any case some visitors, just enough to worry management – complained of their nudity. Using a very hypocritical response – it became urgent to defend the dignity of these very ancient Egyptians, though they have been exposed for more than a century -, the curators spread a prudish veil over their remains. The result is rather comical (see link). The next victim should logically be the Man of Lindow, a neolithic warrior found in a peat bog, who is exhibited in the next room with his skull broken and his members mutilated by torture. Actually, no one has complained yet of feeling ill by this vision of hell. O tempora, o mores!
Transition year at Basel
BASEL -This is a year of transition. Samuel Keller, who has also met success on the other side of the Atlantic (with Art Basel Miami Beach), is leaving Art Basel to go to the Beyeler foundation. It is now up to his successors to confirm the power of the Swiss fair of modern and contemporary art. The first steps do seem indeed clumsy: the Troïka called in to stand at the helm is already a bit unbalanced since one of its members, artistic director Cay Sophie Rabinowitz, from the magazine Parkett, resigned just a weeks before the opening of this 39th edition. There are no real worries though regarding business: in the wake of the excellent results of the sales in May in New York, there is a strong chance they will be very good. Nearly three hundred galleries are present in the main section and various parallel sections allow for a greater segmentation of the offer according to the age of the artists (Art Statements for rising talents), of the format (Art Unlimited for the installations) or even, and this is a novelty, of the link between the works and theatre (Art on Stage).
Wallonia plays with snapshots
CHARLEROI -With one of the richest collections in Europe - over 80 000 images on paper and three million negatives - the musée de la Photographie of this city in Wallonia will open again on 1st June after major restoration works. The construction of a new wing in the park of the former Carmelite convent has made way for an enlargement of the library, for a café and has extended the exhibition space: the permanent fund will now hang over more than 2000 m2. Built in wood on piles, and covered in aluminium, the new structure is in strong contrast with the red brick of the historical building. The museum, with a very varied program (stars such as Lee Miller or contemporary artists like - in 2007 - Hana Jakrlova and her «Big Sister» series, mentioned earlier), is currently presenting Hugues de Wurstemberger and Dave Anderson.
La grande Julie, 1945 Oil on canvas, 111.8 x 127.3 cm Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York
The American Léger
BASEL - His market value recently experienced hyperbolic growth, since Fernand Léger has reached the threshhold of € 35 million in public sales (with Woman in blue, on 7 May 2008 at Sotheby's New York), that places him among the stars of the XXth century. At this price, his buyers are mainly in the Anglo Saxon countries. The exhibition the Beyeler Foundation has dedicated to him allows us to search this source since it focuses on the reciprocal influences between the artist and the United States. Léger went to the country a number of times in the thirties before settling there during the war, from 1940 to 1945. He was by then already in this sixties and had openings among the greatest patrons of art. Aside from the paintings done in the US, the exhibition shows in particular the projects for the apartment of Nelson Rockefeller and a 10-meter long mural painting done for architect Wallace Harrison. The second part studies the influence Léger had on American creators, by showing some of their works. The list is long, from Ellsworth Kelly to Warhol, from Lichtenstein to Rauschenberg.
On the land of the Medicis
FLORENCE -Like every year when summer is about to roll in, Italy has the knack for setting up very well targeted exhibitions. Rather than major heavyweight retrospectives, it brings forward the interaction between a territory and its artists. We saw it recently with Mantegna around Padova or with a family of collectors such as the Della Rovere in the Marches. This time it’s the turn of the Tuscan Mugello at the beginning of the Renaissance. The Mugello? It is the Northern-East part of Tuscany, which tourists do not know well, and yet it was the region chosen by numerous artists such as Giotto, Fra Angelico or Andrea del Castagno (to be seen at the museum of sacred art in Vicchio). There is one simple reason to this: it was the cradle of the Medici dynasty. The famous dual between Brunelleschi and Donatello, by the intermediary of a Crucifixion, is represented at San Piero a Sieve. The saga of the Medici and their villas is recreated at Borgo San Lorenzo and at Scarperia. It is mandatory to make a stop in Florence, if for no other reason just to see or see again the The procession of the Magi by Benozzo Gozzoli, at the Medici-Riccardi palace: the landscape that serves as a background is that of Mugello.
Photos with problems
Just to continue on the theme of what is licit and what is illicit, touched on at the beginning of this newsletter, here is a book that explains a little further. It accompanied the exhibition at the musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, and lists 75 photographs, most of them well known, which all had a not very smooth career. Photomontages, photos falsely spontaneous or photos interpreted abusively: each left its mark on its time. On 20 July 1969, why is the American flag flowing in the wind next to Buzz Aldrin when there is no wind on the Moon? Why were those cut-off heads, brandished by Spanish soldiers, claimed in turn to be Republican, Franco supporters or Moroccan? In a photo taken by Khaldei, why was one of the two watches worn by the infantryman who planted the Russian flag atop the Reischtag in 1945 taken off? Why was the world press fooled by the set up of the massacres at Timisoara in 1989? In passing we will note that the scandal that was once created when intruding in the intimacy of the powerful (Bismarck on his death bed), by the non-respect of the right to the image (Chaplin plagiarized) or by changing the sense of things for reasons of propaganda, is now increasingly focused on sexual matters: a child’s naked body seems to automatically take on a pedophile orientation.
ARTIST OF THE WEEK
Germes de pomme de terre, etching, 1987, 154 x 97,5 cm Epreuve d'Artiste, Courtesy galerie Lucie Weill & Seligman, Paris
Barceló in the intimacy of prints
He is undoubtedly one of the artists most in vogue today and his oils on canvas are out of reach for the common mortals. But as Miquel Barceló (born in 1957) is a polymorphic artist, one can enjoy his creativity in many other ways, for example by visiting the cathedral of Mayorca where he has created a large ceramic wall on the multiplication of the bread and the fish, or even by attending (in 2006 at the festival of Avignon), his mano a mano with Josef Nadj on a stage covered with clay. Barceló has also produced numerous drawings (that can easily sell for 50 000 €) as well as prints. The latter are obviously more affordable and are generally prints in 16, 26 or 34 copies, on themes inspired by Nature. Aside a few humans, one sees a bestiary including animals from Africa, eels or dogs as well as fruit and simple plants from our gardens, such as the cherry tree or the potato blossom.
BUENOS AIRES- The 17th edition of the Arte BA contemporary art fair will be held from 29 May to 2 June, with the presence of over 80 galleries from the Southern hemisphere.
DELFT-The fire that hit the Institute of Technology of the university of Delft destroyed thousands of theoretic works from the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries. A few major piecs by creators of the XXth century such as Rietveld or Le Corbusier were saved.
GENEVA - The Illegal resident commissioned by the mayor of Geneva Patrice Mugny to artist Ousmane Sow will be set up in front of the train station on 30 May.
ISSY-LES-MOULINEAUX - The Cube Festival, dedicated to digital arts, will hold its 3rd edition from 3 to 8 June at the Cube and throughout the town. It will present exhibitions of digital art, sound paths, "hybrid" evenings, etc.
LOS ANGELES- In spite of the Pharaonic donation it has received (over $6 billion), the Getty Museum is going to lay off some one hundred employees. Indeed it underwent a large operating los in 2007 (-$ 49.3 million, that is 15% of the budget). The chairman of the Institution, James Wood, expressed his intention of refocusing it on its basic missions: the museum, research and the library.
PARIS - The Artémis holding company of François Pinault (already the owner of Christie's) which held Piasa, the company of voluntary sales, has transfered the control to a group of investors among which are Laurent Fabius, Louis Schweitzer, Serge Weinberg and Jérôme Clément.
PARIS - The Affordable Art Fair, an English concept of contemporary art fairs at very low prices (works sold between 100 and 5000€) will hold its first French edition at the Espace Champerret, from 29 May to 1 June.
PARIS - The Rendez-vous aux jardins, (Garden rendez-vous), the annual event that allows the public to see many private gardens, will be held on May 30, 31 and June 1, on the theme of the travels by plants.
PARIS - The 6th Parcours Saint-Germain-des-Près will be held from 29 May to 19 June: contemporary artists will be exhibited in neighborhood boutiques (Claude Lévêque at Louis Vuitton, Catherine Baÿ at Sonia Rykiel's, Françoise Pétrovitch at Zadig & Voltaire's, etc). While the Carré Rive Gauche, which groups together some one hundred antique dealers presenting first choice works, will be held from 30 May to 1 June.
VERONA - The exhibition announced on the treasures of the Louvre, to be held this Autumn at the palazzo della Gran Guardia and which had created a stir due to its "rental" dimension (the temporary transfer had been estimated at € 4 million), has been canceled due to "time for preparation too short".
THIS WEEK DO NOT MISS
A CENTURY OF RUSSIAN AND SOVIET ART
MONTBELIARD - The Musée du Château des Ducs de Wurtemberg presents a rich private collection totally dedicated to Russian and Soviet art, from the end of the XIXth century up to the Perestroika. It has never been shown in France and includes works by the Ambulants (Benois, Répine), the avant-guard artists (Larionov, Tatline), up to art inspired by Stalin propaganda.