Art Of The Day Weekly
#156 - from 7 January 2010 to 13 January 2010
IN THE AIR
The craze for heights
Altius was, together with citius and fortius, one of baron de Coubertin’s axioms. Higher and higher! Following the freeze imposed by the September 11 terrorist attack, the race to the heights seems to have picked up again in architecture, and with further energy. We have thus seen Madrid inaugurate its first monument signed by Santiago Calatrava, in a 94-meter tall column that turns on its own axle, in the center of the Plaza de Castilla. Higher up, the Burj of Dubai was inaugurated on 4 January. This concrete (over 300 000 m3) and steel spire with 160 floors, designed by SOM, the sky-scraper engineer and architecture specialists, houses over one thousand apartments, offices and a luxury hotel. Its completion will have a soothing effect on the emirate, tied up in a deep financial crisis. The taste for records has been systematically kept up: as in the case of the Mont-Blanc last century, the monument’s final height was kept a secret until the last moment, 828 meters. The previous winner, the Taipei 101 tower, would need to add the Eiffel Tower on its head to reach it …
Four generations of Barbier-Muellers
GENEVA – They have always been known as primitive arts specialists, or even as book lovers. Now the Barbier-Mueller family presents another side of its appetite for beautiful things: jewels and ore. In this dynasty characterized for over a century by a «collecting disease», the patriarch, Joseph Mueller, is followed by his great grandson, Alexis Barbier-Mueller. The former acquired before WW II certain jewels presented here (Polynesian ear ornament in sperm whale tooth or a Cameroonian ivory bracelet), while the latter has headed towards minerals, including quartz, schist, malachite and lapis-lazuli. «Jewels by man» and «Jewels from the Earth» are confronted in a «contamination» practice which has been tested since the « cabinets de curiosités” and the Surrealists: crystals are side by side with Maya pendants, necklaces from Mesopotamia and head dresses from Tibet.
•Bijoux de l’homme, bijoux de la Terre at the musée Barbier-Mueller, until 15 may 2010.
PARIS – He is one of the photographers love most and his Kiss at the Hôtel de Ville has been an icon for a long time. Robert Doisneau (1912-1994) is being hosted by one of his contemporaries, Henri Cartier-Bresson. Though many things separated them in their profession, they were the best of friends. Doisneau has always been known as the bard of the lower class from the outer city: it is not false but it tends to giving him a sweet imaginary status … The nearly one hundred photos taken between 1935 and 1966 and presented here show that the man’s life was not as simple as it appears (he was a letter painter, was fired from the Renault plant for absenteeism, supplied the French Resistance with false documents) and his production was just as varied, as he combined fashion, reports and portraits of celebrities.
•Robert Doisneau, du métier à l’œuvre, at the Cartier-Bresson Foundation, from 13 January to 18 April 2010.
Dubuffet the engraver
RUEIL-MALMAISON – Forty years separate the Valse, a black lithograph from 1944, and Libre cours, one in color from 1984. This period represents Jean Dubuffet’s whole artistic career, since it started when he sold his wine business in 1942 and ended when he died in 1985. He spent those forty years doing engravings, proof of the interest he had in that art form. He started in the famous workshop of Mourlot, and in spite of being a novice he quickly invented new, very personal techniques to set his vegetable prints, his stains, his characters. Dubuffet skipped from lithographs to «paper reports» then to silk screen painting and had his own workshops set up in his home. The exhibition is founded on the collection of the Dubuffet foundation and presents over one hundred prints, some of which are accompanied by texts by poets such as Francis Ponge or Guillevic.
•Jean Dubuffet, l’œuvre gravé, 1944-1984 at the Atelier Grognard until 8 March 2010
Drouot remains stable
PARIS – The French auction house finished the 2009 fiscal year with revenue at 410 million Euros, i.e. a near-stability in regard to the 411 million in 2008. In other times this performance would have been judged mediocre, but it is considered rather positive in the current situation. Nothing can compare with the performance of the Lefèvre collection, when it was scattered in December 2007 by the Aguttes agent, but other ensembles were coherent, such as the Chouanard collection (6.5 million euros at Baron-Ribeyre), including in particular two bronzes by Rodin that broke world records (3 million euros for a Thinker). Among the eight auctions that went beyond the one million euros (there were ten in 2008), we saw 2 works by Basquiat and one by Chagall as well as an XVIIIth century dresser or a Chinese seal in nephrite. This shows that the French institution remains remarkable as far as the variety and volume of objects it shows, but it continues to have difficulties attracting works of very high value. The creation at the end of the year of an on line auction service, drouot.live, is presented by the management as a significant modernization to keep up with the others auctioneers.
ARTIST OF THE WEEK
Personnes, 2010. Christian Boltanski at Grand Palais – June 2009. Photo Didier Plowy – All rights reserved Monumenta 2010, ministère de la Culture et de la Communication
Christian Boltanski listens to our hearts
He is one of the «heavyweights» of the French contemporary scene, which does not have that many… He is well used to public commissions and biennale events, and ambitious retrospectives (at the Palais de Tokyo, at Beaubourg) and international renown (the Praemium Imperiale prize in 2006) have turned into a «star». The artist, born in 1948, looked into his own history before trying to scrutinize the unmentionable Shoah. He is an amateur of lists, of catalogues, of superimpositions, but is also capable of the greatest austerity. His latest opus consists in creating «Archives of the heart» by recording the hear-beat of his fellow human beings. The objective is disproportionate and will be kept in a sanctuary in Japan. In the meantime he has set it up in a visual and sound installation at the Grand Palais.
•Personnes at Grand Palais, as part of Monumenta, from 13 January to 21 February 2010
The sale that broke all records
It was baptized «the sale of the century» due to its extravagant results. The scattering of the Yves Saint Laurent Pierre Bergé collection included, in February 2009, three auction days at the Grand Palais attended by well-known personalities, 733 lots, a revenue of €342 million, and numerous glorious feats, like a Matisse (Les Coucous) sold for €36 million, a wood sculpture by Brancusi at €29 million, Belle halein by Marcel Duchamp at €9 million. But also Enfants De Dreux, by Géricault, which the Louvre did not want in its time, that sold for €9 million, or a Rat Head, a Qing bronze from the XVIIIth century, that was picked off its feet –excuse the expression - at €20 million by the thrust of a Chinese patriot who never paid the bill … These prices seem somewhat unreasonable, aroused only by fetishism: how can a 30-cm wide geodesic dome in amethyst go beyond the €30,000 limit? This auction with all its superlatives deserved an album on glazed paper that also traces its prehistory, in other words the life of the objects in the apartments of rue de Babylone and rue du Bac before they were scattered. One of the fascinating aspects of this unique ensemble is its origins: through art dealers such as Alain Tarica, the Kugel or the Vallois, the duet knitted a link that goes back to the royal families of France and England, to the Goncourt or to Jacques Doucet.
•La collection Yves Saint Laurent-Pierre Bergé, la vente du siècle, directed by Christiane de Nicolay-Mazery, Christie’s/Flammarion, 2009, 288 p., 85 €, ISBN : 978-2-08-122941-9
BOSTON – According to the Washington Post, the Museum of Fine Arts seems to have discovered in its reserves a painting by Leonardo da Vinci.
BRUSSELS - In order to mark its first semester at the Presidency of the European Union, that begun on 1st January 2010, Spain had a monumental sculpture by Rafael Canogar set up in the hall of the Council of Europe.
HARBIN - The 26th festival of sculpture on ice in Harbin (at 1000 km to the North-East of Beijing) opened on 5 January 2010.
OSLO - The project of the new Munch museum by Spanish architect Juan Herreros, contested by the general director of national heritage of Norway and by the president of the Opera (that faces it), could be modified.
PARIS – The installation by Daniel Buren at the Palais-Royal, the Deux Plateaux, which had created such a scandal when it was set up in 1986, must be «reinaugurated» on 8 January 2009, following its restoration.
PARIS – The Luxembourg museum will close for an indefinite period of time, at the end of the current exhibit, dedicated to L.C. Tiffany, on 17 January 2009.