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Art Of The Day Weekly

#113 - from 11 December 2008 to 17 December 2008


In face of the crisis, let us dream

Are we sure the crisis is really here? It is not so much the downturn in the value nor the volume of sales, but rather their erratic behaviour that helps us give a diagnosis. One day they crash, the next they pick up again. It is the same thing in the world of art. On 1st December, it was announced that Degas no longer sells (during the sale of the Jeanne Lanvin collection, at Christie’s, which only brought in a third of what had been expected). On 3rd December, it was announced that Degas had shattered his own record (with the sale at Sotheby’s of a drawing, Au divan japonais , at more than 4 million euros). Other indicators seem more reliable: Larry Gagosian, the number one gallery owner in the world, asking his employees to work 18 hours a day (quoted in the Flash Art newsletter) or Damien Hirst, the number one artist in the world, who fired half of his employees. Strangely enough, this period of melancholy corresponds to spectacular announcements. We have just learned that the Colossus of Rhodes will be born again, eighteen centuries after its fall, as a luminous sculpture. And at Mecca, the Saudi authorities have approached major architects, among them Norman Foster and Zaha Hadid, to build one of the most gigantic buildings in history, a mosque that could host three million pilgrims. When all is going well we worry, when things go bad we hope, as Tristan Bernard used to say. The crisis is definitely upon us: the time of major projects is back.


A lesson in fashion from the Tsars

LONDON – Of course we could go see them in Moscow. But the trip takes time and many of the masterpieces are not yet exhibited for they are just coming out of the funds. In Russia, the interest in the Tsars’ ceremonial clothes is rather recent and, as we can imagine, rather political… Forty of these costumes, recently restored, have left the Kremlin’s collections, to travel to London. From the decorative extravagance of the 1720s, closely reflecting French fashion, to the more sober outfits of the XIXth century, when the aim was to defend the national tradition, these outfits demonstrate the skill of the Russian artisans. Vests, lavish embroideries, elaborate uniforms, ermine capes as well as stockings and underwear (including watches and snuff boxes hidden in pockets) give a complete idea of the wardrobe of the masters of the Kremlin, from Peter II up to Nicolas II, the last Romanoff.

  • Magnificence of the Tsars at the Victoria & Albert Museum, from 10 December 2008 to 2 March 2009

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  • The Seine sets the stage

    RUEIL-MALMAISON – For as long as we can remember, the river that flows through Paris has fascinated artists. An exhibition in an unexpected venue –the Atelier Grognard– allows us to measure the aura of the Seine from 1850 to 1930 and to check proof in hand. Indeed, a great number of the most painted sites – Chatou, Croissy, Bougival, Le Vésinet – are just two steps away from Rueil-Malmaison. While most exhibitions in small places often leave the visitor hungry for more, in this case we are pleasantly surprised by the presentation of 150 works (of which 80 paintings). They outline the river’s artistic biography, from the arrival of the railroad to Saint-Germain-en-Laye in 1837, including the school of Barbizon and the Impressionists, up to the compositions by Marquet and Luce. The well-known artists are present, such as Corot, Daubigny, Monet, Sisley, Caillebotte, Signac. But the visitor can also discover– and that is the main interest of the event – forgotten talents or unexpected artists: Albert Gleizes, Gérarda Marius-Eraud, Félicien-Rops, Louis Français, as well as the illustrator Henri Scott. They are all brought together for the same cause, to accumulate regatta sailors and sunrises, bridges, barges, meanders and trees with flowers …

  • Reflets de la Seine impressionniste at Atelier Grognard, until 9 March 2009

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  • My life, the return

    VIENNA – Art news has been very varied these last months with Klimt’s paintings pushing past the 100 million dollar barrier at auctions, the resume-exhibition at the Musée d’art et d’histoire du judaïsme («Who do these paintings belong to?»), the recent, media-covered restitution of a small Matisse by Christine Albanel, the destiny of works of art stolen during the war, either by one side or the other, are just a few examples. At the MAK, an original exhibition studies the «life after» of these works. We can see a beautiful Cranach (Virgin and Child in a landscape from the Philipp Gomperz collection) but it does not only concern paintings, furniture or porcelain. Each of the 17 scenarios – taken from the Austrian experience – accompanies the stolen objects with various documents (registers and inventories, declarations, letters, etc). The result is staged by contemporary artists who have interpreted these painful stories through installations. The itineraries can be unexpected. It is the case for example of a Fiat 522C from 1931, that belonged to Rosa and Moritz Glückselig: taken by the SA in 1938, later exhibited at the museum of Techniques of Vienna, it was returned and finally bought by the museum.

  • Recollecting at the MAK, from 3 December 2008 to 15 February 2009

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    All the perfumes of Arabia...

    For the last 23 years it has been one of the rendez-vous for amateurs of Orientalism: each year, in June and December, the Gros et Delettrez study carries out a gigantic, two-day auction of one thousand lots. It is here that Etienne Dinet has established his quoted value, going beyond the 1.5 million euros mark in 2007. He will be one of the stars again this year, with his scenes of the Algerian wadi (l’Ecrivain public(The letter writer), Baigneuses(Bathers), Jeux d’enfants(Children’s games) or le Permissionnaire)(Soldier on leave). Next to him, Majorelle, Bridgman, Théodore Frère, Gérôme and Fromentin are other well-established values. The most generous evaluation goes to Puvis de Chavannes with a Jeune Noir au sabre (Young black with a sabre) from 1850, estimated at 1.2 million euros. Landscapes by Henri Pontoy (1888-1969), views of oasis by Marguerite Tedeschi (1879-1970) will undoubtedly be negotiated between 8 000 and 10 000 euros and a third of that will be needed to buy scenes of harems by Frédéric Borgella (1833-1901). As for Adrien Delerive (1755-1818) he tells the story of Adrien Follie in 1782-84: a shipwrecked navigator, slave of the Moors, then guest of the Emperor of Morocco. No less than four paintings were necessary to tell the adventure…

  • Orientalisme et art orientaliste at Drouot-Richelieu on 15 December at 2 PM (Gros et Delettrez SVV)

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    Glen Baxter, Tex suddenly understood it was maybe a mistake to hide behind the Giacometti, ink and coloured pensils on paper
    Courtesy galerie Martine et Thibault de la Châtre

    Glen Baxter: the return of nonsense

    If we had to find him some affinities, we would take a look at Edward Lear and his limericks from the XIXth century, those short absurd verses accompanied by an eccentric illustration. As Glen Baxter is British(born in 1944 in Leeds), the parallel seems natural. But the artist likes to quote other influences, such as writer Raymond Roussel, in the formula that made him famous and which was largely publicized, in particular in Le Monde: a drawing in India ink, coloured with thick pencils, over a screwball title. His characters, taken from popular litterature – cow-boys, explorers or dandies – are in incomprehensible situations. One can laugh, or on the contrary, see something else, a sort of trial to describe alienation, the estrangement that takes hold of us sometimes when facing the world that surrounds us.

  • Glen Baxter at the Martine et Thibault gallery of la Châtre (4 rue de Saintonge, 75003), until 17 January 2009.

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    Theories on posters

    Diego Zaccaria, the director of cultural affairs at Echirolles, gives us a history of the modern and contemporary poster. He knows what he is talking about: he is the one who created in 1990 in this municipality on the outskirts of Grenoble the Month of graphism, an event that has triggered off copies throughout Europe. The itinerary starts with calls to the mobilisation of World War I(the famous Uncle Sam with a finger pointed «I need you for the US Army»). He then experienced some unique moments: the Surrealist inventiveness of the polish school, Malcolm Glaser's purified graphism, the Dutch exaggerations of Anthony Beeke (a poster for Kleist's play Penthésilée with a penis in erection), Mario Cresci's and Massimo Dolcini's Italian elegance, the latter having had the luck of working over the long term (twenty years) for the daring municipality of Pesaro, that communicated over «author's posters». We can well recall the discussion that accompanied in 2002 Amen, Costa-Gavras's , movie with a Christian cross that changed into a swastika: the degree of tolerance of corporations changes in space and in time, and posters are one of the most sensitive indicators.

  • L’affiche, paroles publiques(Posters as public words) by Diego Zaccaria, Textuel, 2008, 256 p., 49 €, ISBN : 978-2-84597-294-0.
  • Not to be missed: the Month of graphism at Echirolles, held until 31 January 2009.

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    BÂLE – The exhibition «Venice», at the Beyeler foundation, which attracted 100 000 visitors in two and a half months, is extended for three weeks, until 15 February 2009.

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    CANBERRA-The National Portrait Gallery of Australia, drawn by Johnson Pilton Walker, opened on 3 December 2008.

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    LASCAUX-Christine Albanel, the French Minister of Culture, has announced a symposium of international experts on the theme of "Lascaux and conservation underground" will be held on 26 and 27 February 2009.

    LA VALETTE-The Maltese government announced architect Renzo Piano has been chosen to remodel the capital's center. The formere Opera house will be transformed to host a cultural center and the National Assembly. The latter will abandon the Palace, which in turn will be totally converted into a museum.

    LONDON – The Wittelbach diamond, a stone from the XVII century with 35.56 carats, was estimated at 16.4 million £(18.7 million €) on 10 December at Christie’s, and was sold at 9 million £, a new world record for a diamond sold at an auction.

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    NEW YORK- «The Art Newspaper» is launching The Art Newspaper TV, a television station dedicated to art news and events.

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    PARIS – «Hors cadre» (Out of context), an auction of which the proceeds will go to the association of La Source (to help children in trouble through art), is organised at the Palais de Tokyo on 17 December 2008, under the control of Simon de Pury. The works on sale are fifty creations by contemporary artists, which have «distracted» a wooden frame.

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    WARSAW - The Night of art, named the "Independent Art Invasion", will be held on 13 December in the galleries, bars, discotheques, garages and workshops in the capital, with plastic, sounding theatrical installations, from dance to literature.

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    VIENNA - With 589,180 visitors, i.e. 6,202 visitors per day, the exhibition on Van Gogh at the Albertina (from 5 September to 8 December 2008) broke the museum's record of attendance for a temporary installation, which was at 470,000 entrances (for Dürer in 2003).

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