Art Of The Day Weekly
#110 - from 20 November 2008 to 26 November 2008
IN THE AIR
Ramirez and Van Gogh, for the same cause
An eccentric painter produces a lot. He is illuminated, goes through crisis periods and goes in and out of insane asylums. As no one wants his paintings, he distributes them among his friends and even hands them to strangers. Some of his paintings end up in the attic to cover a hole, or are thrown out in the trashcan. You have guessed we are referring to Van Gogh, who sold one single painting during his life … The vicious circle - misery, incomprehension, posthumous fortune – repeated itself many times in history. We now have a new surprising example with Martín Ramírez (1895-1963). A Mexican immigrant in the United States, who spent many years in a mental asylum in California, Ramirez saw his fame –and his quoted value- explode: what was worth nothing in 1980 cost 25 000 dollars in 2001 and 80 000 dollars in 2003. An exhibition at the American Folk Art Museum during the first half of 2007 accompanied by rave reviews increased his value even more. This automatically awakens a certain appetite: his family, who is said to have burnt the works of the “crazy” son in the past, recently had a sale at Sotheby’s suspended. Said auction gathered 17 drawings saved by the only person who believed in his genius, psychiatrist Tarmo Pasto. It is believed Ramirez’s mental state invalidates these donations and the paintings should be returned to the family … While awaiting the result of the trial, look through your basement: some one hundred works by Ramirez were found in the autumn of 2007 in a garage in California. Other lucky discoveries could be in store for us...
Vouet, the Italian
NANTES – In 1624, he received a distinguished honor: Simon Vouet was the first French painter to be commissioned by the Pope for Saint-Peter’s basilica. After long pilgrimages that led him from London to Constantinople, he settled in Rome and lived there for nearly a decade. Vouet became a local «star», a status he enjoyed after being elected to the prestigious academy of Saint-Luc. The work for Saint-Peter’s, an Adoration on the Cross requested by Urban VIII, has disappeared but the recreation in Nantes of the preparatory study proves the commitment of the curators who went to fetch the scattered elements throughout the world. Vouet’s portraits or his Fortunetellers, which illustrate the influence of Caravaggio on his style, also come from Rome, Washington or Ottawa. Though married to an Italian and loved in the eternal city, Vouet decided in 1627 to return to France: Louis XIII named him his official painter.
Easter Island, necessarily a mystery
PARIS – She may be tiny, but she is as fascinating as the Maya culture. That is because Easter Island hides mysteries that are just as unfathomable. Who were those persons who inhabited the site as of the year one thousand? Why did they disappear so suddenly? What is the meaning of their giant idols, these Moai in the shape of heads? As to the “rongorongo” writing, it has not yet been deciphered… While the Royal Museums of Belgium have just inaugurated a room dedicated to Easter Island, an exhibition shows the wealth of the French collections, both public and private, in wood statuettes, dance accessories, weapons, stone objects: over 150 pieces are gathered here, the fruit of various expeditions, among them the Franco-Belgian one organized by the Trocadero Ethnographic museum in the 1930s.
Braque, beyond Cubism
VIENNA – Braque equals Cubism. The equation in which the artist has been constrained– spicing it up with an exciting rivalry with Picasso – put a shadow over an important part of his corpus. Indeed, following the «invention» of Cubism in 1907, Braque had, just as did Picasso, a long creative life since he only passed away in 1963. The retrospective at the Bank Austria Kunstforum has the precise ambition of reevaluating the other aspects of his work, from the Fauve period to the later series of the Ateliers including the paper collage – a field in which he excelled in experiments – and still-lives. The demonstration is carried out with the support of some 80 paintings and a sample given of his graphic work.
An inventory of hand fans
One generally associates fans with Spain, the bullfights and the flamenco. Its kingdom is actually much larger as can be seen in the sale by the Deburaux auction house, on 25 November. There will be samples from Europe and Asia, from different eras and in various shapes. It goes from the hand screens of the XVIIIth century to Siné’s “revolutionary” fan on which one hundred pants are drawn (the symbol of the French revolutionary “sans culottes” of 1789) -estimated at 400€- and includes a classic one from the 1920s, a fan in painted ostrich feathers (starting at 100€). While the first estimates are very conservative, they climb up quite quickly to various thousands of euros according to the material (mother of pearl, silk, ivory) and the quality of the work on leaves and strands. A Coriolanus implored by his mother from 1760 with a gold-incrusted mother of pearl base, has been announced at over 4 000€. A few fantasies will no doubt attract amateurs, such as lot 142 bis: it is a fan made with the posterior parts of an albino, male peacock, on a base in white mother of pearl, that should go for more than the 400€ estimated.
ARTIST OF THE WEEK
Aurore Valade, Intérieur avec figures Chanel n°5, photography, 100 x 82cm, courtesy Fondation HSBC pour la photographie
The HSBC prize for photography, launched in 1996, has rewarded a few creators who are famous today, such as Rip Hopkins, Valérie Belin or Eric Baudelaire. One of its strong points is the publication of a monography of the artists chosen. The winners for 2008 represent two complementary approaches: Guillaume Lemarchal (born in 1974) searches landscapes for traces of « wounds » made by man. On the contrary Aurora Valade (born in 1981) stays between four walls. She documents the daily lives of non- complicated people in their apartments. The result of her work has an almost cinematographic dimension though: the staging (games with the lighting and the symmetry, and mirror effects) and the studied, rigid pose of the characters gives a hieratic and solemn aspect to her compositions.
My little book does not know depression
First there was poor art (arte povera). Enter the «poor book»: a definition that is well chosen for artists’ books, made with limited means, with very few copies (at least one but not more than six), which have few readers but will always be read … The lovely title Richesses du livre pauvre(Wealth of a poor book), introduces the catalogue of an exhibition, presented by the collection of Daniel Leuwers, a poet in his own right, close to René Char. But it also works as a manifesto in praise of this type of creation that brings together in one same family Mallarmé, the illuminators of the Middle Ages and the Surrealists. The creators presented in this third volume (two other retrospectives took place in 2003 and 2006) are all contemporary: Leuwers himself with Viallat or Alexandre Hollan, Jean-Dominique Rey with Béatrice Casadesus as well as Michel Butor, André Velter, Henri Meschonnic, Jean-Claude Pirotte, Alechinsky. They are often by pairs: the artist book then entails a sort of state of grace between the poet and the painter.
DOHA-(Qatar) – The museum of Islamic Art, designed by I.M. Pei, with a museography by Jean-Michel Wilmotte, will open its doors on 22 November 2008.
EDINBURGH- The exhibition dedicated to the Queen of England's collections of baroque art, which opened on 13 November at the Queen’s Gallery, includes two paintings attributed to Caravaggio during their restoration – Saint Peter and saint Paul and Child peeling a piece of fruit.
PARIS- The sale of the 61 artists' works done following the fire of the famous Deyrolle study of taxidermy, brought in 260 000 euros on 13 November at Christie’s.
SAINT-ETIENNE- The International Biennale of design that will celebrate its 10th anniversary, will be held until 30 November 2008 at the Cité du Design.
TORONTO- The new building of the Art Gallery of Ontario, designed by Frank Gehry, a native son, was inaugurated on 14 November 2008.
TORINO-Luci d’artista, which entrusts contemporary artists (among them Daniel Buren or Mimmo Paladino) with the creation of light installations in the city, will be held until 18 January 2009.