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Art Of The Day Weekly

#93 - from 5 June 2008 to 11 June 2008


A biennale in a suitcase

There has been a lot of rambling on about the multiplication of biennial events. Throughout the world they put into motion large amounts of energy, they impose countless numbers of moves, and sometimes large audiences. Nicely distilled through time, Venice, Lyon, Liverpool, Dakar, Istanbul, São Paulo draw a beautiful geography for the world aesthetists who gallop across the globe. The latest one almost makes fun of these established values. The Biennale of Teheran opened on 30 May on the theme of "urban jealousy", this last word is to be taken in its two senses: "desire" and "window from which one can see without being seen". If you do not go to this biennale, it wil come to you. Indeed its two curators Serhat Koksai and Amiral Ghasemi wished for it to hold in a suicase – inside, there are texts, videos, photos that demonstrate the vitality of the Iranian scene. Its first stop will be Istanbul, it will then be carried by the international winds. This is the sort of biennale Duchamp would have liked – we can well remember his boîte-en-valise (box in a suicase) – and this biennale saves on CO2. Another reason for it to attract many friends.

The (minimalist) website of the Tehran biennale


A Jewish museum in the shape of a diamond

SAN FRANCISCO - It will create a lot of chatter as well, if nothing else, for its architecture. The Contemporary Jewish Museum will inaugurate on 8 June its new building, a somber object with facets, designed by David Libeskind, whose choices are not always unanimously approved in terms of museography (see the new museum of Denver). Transplanted on to a former electric sub-station in red bricks, that opens to the public for the first time since the beginning of the 20th century, this large diamond covered with 3000 metal plates will surely be the ideal venue for the musical environments of John Zorn but will not adapt as easily to traditional exhibits. Aside from Zorn, the inauguration will include an exhibition dedicated to the representation of the Genesis by young artists (with, in counterpoint, classical works, from Tiepolo to Chagall). And with a retrospective of William Steig (1907-2003), the drawer wo holds the record of longevity at the New Yorker with 73 years of illustrations…

  • The Contemporary Jewish Museum opens on 8 June at 736 Mission Street

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    Klimt, the Viennese

    LIVERPOOL - This is surely a once-in-a-lifetime-event: the Tate presents its big Summer exhibition in a peripheral venue. The choice of Liverpool is not innocent since the city of the Beatles is "the European capital of culture" for 2008. To attract the crowds, no useless risks have been taken: Klimt, one of the favorite painters of our time, is the subject of a retrospective with a sub-title just as much in vogue: «Vienna 1900». Aside from some very important paintings by Klimt (among them the Portrait of Hermine Gallia), the exhibition underlines the major role of the artist in the middle of the Viennese Secession and his interaction with Josef Hoffman and the group of the Wiener Werkstätte. Decorative objects, furniture, jewellery, graphic design or fashion creations are put close to works by Klimt to remind an ambiance of creation in all directions, that would come brutally to an end with WW I.

  • Gustav Klimt, painting, design and modern life in Vienna 1900 at the Tate Liverpool, from 30 May to 31 August 2008

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  • Jan van Eyck Margaret, the Painter's Wife Oil on panel, 32.6 x 25.8 cm Bruges, Groeninge Museum

    Portraits, the golden age

    MADRID - The Prado, which last Fall inaugurated its new exhibition rooms (in the recomposed cloister of San Jerónimo), seems to want to demonstrate its intention of giving ambitious retrospectives. The most recent, dedicated to portraits during the Renaissance period (1400-1600), accumulates masterpieces, on loan from the great museums of the world (and in particular by the National Gallery of London, where the retrospective will have its second stop in the Fall). Van Eyck, Leonardo, Dürer, Holbein, Lotto, Rubens: they are all present as well as other artists tha had never been seen in Spain such as Piero della Francesca. By showing in 130 works the evolution of the genre, from the small, rare object kept in a coffer (beginning of the XVth century, in Flandres and in Italy) to the painting to be hung on the wall to show it off to all (the ones by Tiziano are the most imposing), the exhibition also segments the show into themes: the court portrait, the family portrait, the self portrait…

  • The portrait in the Renaissance at the Prado museum, from 3 June to 7 September 2008

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  • When Zao engraved

    I am not afraid of getting old nor of dying. As long as I will know how to use a paintbrush or a tube of color, nothing can ever happen to me… At the age of 88, Zao Wou-Ki is a national glory in France as well as in China. Gone are the days when he was just a young foreigner, trying to make a name for himself among his colleagues from the galerie Loeb, who was sometimes tempted to drown his fears in alcohol (his nickname was "Zao whisky"). The various sides of his work have been the object of various exhibitions, in particular in a retrospective at the Jeu de paume: his large abstract oil paintings, his drawings in Indian ink, as well as his figurative compositions from the thirties. The Bibliothèque nationale focuses this time on engravings, in which the artist was not less prolific. He illustrated some fifty works over 60 years of practicing line engraving or lithography. Most of the 120 pages exposed are from the collections of the BnF, to which the painter made two important donations in 1979 and 2007. We can see all the aspects of his work, from figuration to lyric abstraction up to the return of Indian ink, and just as many passages to his other practices. A movie and some matrixes introduce the visitor to his work of superposition of colors.

  • Zao Wou-Ki, engravings and illustrated books at the Bibliothèque nationale de France /François-Mitterrand site, until 24 August 2008
  • Also to be seen: Zao Wou-Ki, ink, water, air, color, Indian inks, 1954-2007 at the musée de l'Hospice Saint-Roch in Issoudun, from 14 June to 14 September 2008

    The website of the BNF


    Colonne, 2008, polyester resin, edition of 5 + 1, 290 x 80 x 85 cm, courtesy Blancpain Art contemporain, Geneva

    The landscapes dreamt by Didier Marcel

    He is from the generation of Mayaux, Ramette, Sorin, Fauguet. Many times rewarded (prix Ricard in 1999, prix international d’art contemporain from the Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco in 2008), Didier Marcel, born in 1961, pursues a patient work on landscapes. The landscape, in other words our environment, in which the prints of man (often cars, such as the green Citroën GS from the Biennale of Lyon in 2003, or buildings, sometimes reduced to their symbolic representation in the form of models) live side y side with natural elements such as trees. Marcel treats the latter with just as much allegory, modeling them various materials like polyester resin. In his current exhibition at Blancpain, white trunks seem to belong more to the mineral world than the vegetable one, to the petrified forests of New Mexico than to our moss-filled underwoods. It is obviously his aim: what matters is the idea of the tree more than the tree itself. There is nothing new as the landscape has always been - as Leonardo used to say -"cosa mentale".

  • Didier Marcel is exhibited until 16 July 2008 at Blancpain Art contemporain (63, rue des Maraîchers, Geneva)

    The website of Blancpain Art contemporain


    Auctions, procedure to follow

    Droit de suite (resale remuneration), VAT on imports, sales by order of the Court or voluntary sales: one can easily get lost if one is not in the profession( and even when one is in the profession). In order to understand what goes on in the world of auctions and sales (and not only art ones), for which the laws have been deeply shaken since the law of 10 July 2000, here is an unexpected vademecum. It is the report from the Economic and Social Council, presented by Pierre Simon. Nourished by various interviews, it associates a good analysis of the permanent weakness of the French market in comparison to the Anglo-Saxon competitors, some one hundred pages of legal texts and advice that the mandatory transposition before 31 December 2009 of the directive on Services in French legislation may be the opportunity to give a certain dynamic to the world of auctions by making it more transparent and more uniform, and by simplifying the taxes. Time is of essence…

  • Le marché des enchères publiques en France, Edition des Journaux officiels, 2008, 19,50 €.

    Buy that book from Amazon


    BROCELIANDE - The 5th edition of d’Etangs d’art brings together from 7 June to 15 September some fifty French and foreign artists who exhibit their works on the water of ponds, of wash houses and of rivers in the forest in Brittany.

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    LE HAVRE - The 2nd Biennale du Havre will be held from 7 to 30 June at the musée Malraux and in town with works and installations by some fifty artists, among them Jan Dibbets, Olivier Mosset, Giuseppe Penone and Martial Raysse.

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    LYNCHBURG (VIRGINIA) – In a new episode of the sale of paintings from public collections, the Trovador by Rufino Tamayo, entrusted by the Maier Museum of Art to Christie’s, was sold on 28 May for 7.2 million $ (for an estimate of 2 million $).

    A reproduction of the painting on the CultureGrrl blog

    MADRID - The Photo España festival will be held from 4 June to 27 July in the Spanish capital. It will present nearly 70 exhibitions, from Ignasi Aballi to Javier Vallhonrat, including Roni Horn and Eugene W. Smith.

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    MILANO - The sound and light show designed by Peter Greenaway for the Dinner, in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, was postponed sine die by the city's mayor, Letizia Moratti, due to the risks it would force Leonardo da Vinci's work to run.

    NICE - The judicial police of Nice and Marseille seized on the morning of 4 June the four paintings that had been stolen last year from the musée des Beaux-Arts of Nice: Allegory pf water and Allegory of earth by Bruegel (that belonged to the city of Nice), Alley of poplars by Sisley and the Blue cliff by Monet (on deposit and the property of the musée d'Orsay).

    STOCKHOLM -The Pontus Hulten Study Gallery opened on 3 June at the Moderna Museet, which Hulten directed until 1973. Aimed for researchers, it will take on the shape of reserves that may be visited and are automated and where the works are moved by mechanic arms.

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    This week, do not miss

    BRUSSELS - The last remain of the second fortified wall of the city, the door of Hal, that is from the end of the XIVth century, had a rich history - it was a defense, a grain silo, a prison. It has been entirely restored, and will open again to the public on 6 June as an exhibition centre. Its program will have an aspect that will be both multicultural and popular.

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