Art Of The Day Weekly
#102 - from 25 September 2008 to 1 October 2008
IN THE AIR
Would you care for some Cold War?
LONDON – When it comes to the difficulty of organizing "transversal" retrospectives, the Victoria & Albert Museum is an example to follow. It succeeds in attracting, with subjects that are rather recondite, almost as many visitors as the Chinese warriors or the Impressionists. In the continuation of its series of chronologic exhibitions on design, it attacks the period from 1945 to 1970. With the title «Design and the Cold war», this history lesson of another genre shows that the two super powers did not limit their competition to the atomic weapon nor to the race to the moon. They also tried to prove, in everyday life, that they were capable of transforming utopias into realities. Armchairs in polyurethane from the East against fiberglass chairs from the West, plastic Trabant P70 against the Messerchmitt mini-car: each product of avant-garde had a political dimension. Over 300 of these objects of various types, from the Braun transistor to the inflatable rooms by Austrian artists Haus-Rucker-Co, up to the NASA space capsule, will be present. One could amost feel nostalgia for an era that gave birth to the most surrealist debates, the «Kitchen Debate» of 1959. This desultory discussion on refrigerators, washing machines and colored televisions opposed Krutchev and Nixon when the latter went to Moscow to inaugurate the National American Exhbition …
Rothko, Seagram style
LONDON – We all know now that he is one of the most expensive artists in the world: some of his works have sold for more than 70 million dollars in auctions. If this speculation had taken place while he was alive, would it have helped relieve the ill-being that pushed Mark Rothko (1903-1970) to commit suicide? Probably not: this super-power of the market would probably only have confirmed his general disappointment with the human world… We recently saw a very well-supplied retrospective in Rome. The British one has a different base: the Seagram Paintings, the mural decorations he carried out as of 1958 for a New York restaurant, in the skyscraper designed by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson. Nine of these large canvases are in permanent residence at the Tate: seven others have exceptionally joined them, from Japan and America. The remaining works document the painter's activity during his last years, from «Black Form» up to the last series of «Black on Grey».
Mantegna, the humanist with a paint brush
PARIS - There exist painters with intuition and other painters who are wise: Andrea Mantegna (1431-1506), Giovanni Bellini's brother-in-law, is part of the second group: this «employee» of the marquis of Mantova had a passion for archeology and befriended the town's humanist groups. His painting is in itself the reflection of his unlimited curiosity, combining a detailed observation of nature, his daring experiments on perspective and the adaption of the Flemish oil paint techniques, which was then at the European avant-garde. The number of works exhibited at the Louvre for this retrospective is impressive – 190 -, from paintings to drawings, manuscripts and prints. This is due to the great number of loans from abroad (in paticular the Triumphs of Cesar from Hampton Court), as well as the strong presence of Mantegna in the French collections – the reason for this being the early admiration he created in France, Napoleon who served himself abondantly in Italy and last but not least the existence of a French branch of the Gonzague family, a cousin of that of Mantova … The exhibition completes in an interesting manner the one organized two years ago in Padova, around the restoration of the Overtari chapel, where the frescos had been bombed during the war.
The call of Venice
VENICE – Few cities have roused the imagination of artists as the city of the Doges has. Everyone knows Canaletto's precise views and Turner's foggy atmospheres. Renoir and Signac gave free rein to their ideas and, much closer to us, Yves Brayer and Zoran Music also found their inspiration here. In these locations where each view has been reproduced to infinity by digital cameras and now ressembles a postcard, it is difficult to show anything new. In any case it is not the objective of this exhibition at the Beyeler foundation, who on the contrary hopes to draw, in 150 works, a historic assessment with phases named Guardi, Whistler, Redon and Monet. We will see a major ensemble of the latter: a third of the 36 canvases he painted there in 1908.
Art déco according to Catteau
PARIS - Charles Catteau (1880-1966) had his time of glory at the International Exhibition of the decorative arts of 1925 in Paris, by winning a great prize. The latter honored a quarter of a century of to quality ceramic creations, first in Sèvres (where he was born) then at La Louvière, in Belgium, where he was active up to his retirement. His decors, on stoneware or earthenware containers of all sorts (varnished, cracked, glazed, with a silk finish) are full of animals – does, penguins, bears, monkeys, pelicans and varied birds – framed with stylised lines. The collection that is offered for sale on 1st October allow us to get a full view of his production, with vey modest estimates (fine earthenware vases starting with a few hundred euros) that go up for exceptional pieces such as this stoneware vase in the form of a three-tiered collared barrel, 26 centimeters tall (lot 107, estimated 50 000 to 55 000 €). Human beings are rather rare: next to Cezanne's bathers or the accordeon players from the Tyrol region, we can note a strange vase with spokes with four football players (lot 128, estimated at 5500 €).
ARTISTS OF THE WEEK
Fred Deux, Le travail quotidien, courtesy Halle Saint-Pierre
Deux and Reims: 60 years of common visions
They are like two fingers of one same hand and it is difficult to disassociate them. The first is Fred Deux (born in 1924) and the second is his companion, Cécile Reims (born in 1927). The worker from the Parisian suburbs, a resistant during the German occupation and then a bookstore employee in Marseille and the survivor of a Jewish Lithuanian family met in 1951. For over half a century they have expressed their relationship in a universe of strange, finely chiseled, semi-animal semi-human creatures, set in a lush vegetation or on a naked background, that spontaneously calls in the idea of «visionary». The print plays a large part – Cécile Reims is an exceptional engraver who for ten years engraved Bellmer’s drawings before doing the same for her husband. The couple – who have already had separate exhibits at the Centre Pompidou – are finally together at la Halle Saint-Pierre, in a retrospective of some 250 pieces including works by friends - Victor Brauner, Henri Michaux, Matta – and tribal art pieces that largely inspired them.
With his naked women shamelessly offered, that one would easily classify in pornography rather than in eroticism, photographer Araki smacks of heresy. Behind his obsession with woman’s sex we can find an intimate wound (his wife’s death) or old roots (« I took my first photograph by turning around as soon as I came out of my mother’s womb », he is used to saying). The character - born in 1940 in Tokyo - is in all cases surprising, he who started in advertising, then made a go at social photography with shots of children in the low-income districts before becoming world famous with his series Tokyo Lucky Hole. This distant biography, which refers randomly at Japanese haikus and Mishima, Roland Barthes, de Sica and Andy Warhol, explains why Araki produced a « Self-portrait in the shape of a breadboard». And many other things… Illustrated – and not only with crude photographs – the work is an eccentric introduction to a marathon work: various tens of thousands of shots, which had already filled 20 volumes when published in 1996.
GETTYSBURG (United States) – The Gettysburg cyclorama, a giant evocation of the battle of the Civil War, over 100 meters long, painted in 1884 by Paul Philippoteaux, has reopened to the public after a restoration that lasted five years and cost 15 million $.
HARLEM-(The Netherlands) - The police have found five paintings by Flemish masters (among them one by Jan Steen and two by Adrien van Ostade), robbed in 2002 from the Frans Hals museum,. They will be shown to the public, before they are restored, until 28 September.
PARIS- The Days of National Heritage, held last 20 and 21 September, attracted 12 million visitors throughout France over nearly 15 000 sites.
TOULOUSE- The Spring of September, a multi-disciplinary event that attracts nearly 120 000 visitors per year, will be held from 26 September to 19 October in some thirty different venues. This edition will be coordinated by Christian Bernard, the director of the Mamco of Geneva.
VENICE-Palazzo Grassi will present as of 27 September, with the title "Italics", two hundred works from the Pinault collection that illustrate four decades of Italian art, from Arte povera to the provocations of Maurizio Cattelan.
This week, do not miss
FRANCE / JAPAN - ONE AND A HALF CENTURIES OF EXCHANGES
During the 150th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic relations between France and Japan, the symmetrical itinerary of two artists off to visit a far-away country: Mathurin Méheut (1882-1958) and Kojiro Akagi (born in 1936), living in Paris for the last half century.