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Art Of The Day Weekly

#159 - from 28 January 2010 to 3 February 2010


A painting by Titian taken out of the Prado in 1936. From Mundo Hispánico, August 1953. Courtesy El País.

Art and the bombs

The destiny of works of art in times of war is often hectic, sometimes fatal. The disappearance of famous wonders such as the amber cabinet from Saint-Petersburg, or Matisse’s Odalisque in red pants and other masterpieces taken from France by Goering and his associates are of public knowledge. We also know the treasures from the Louvre experienced a series of adventures, while they took refuge in castles like that of Chambord to survive. Such was the case of Mona Lisa. Other countries went through similar misfortunes. Spain has systematically put order in its past (whether it is for the identification of the dead without burial or the granting of Spanish nationality to the descendants of exiled Spaniards). Just recently it solemnly thanked a few foreign institutions (the National Gallery, the Louvre, the Rijksmuseum, etc) for their help during the Spanish civil war, giving protection to its patrimony. The Velasquez and Goyas from the Prado rode the country’s bumpy roads under the bombs of the Condor legion, in trucks towards Valencia, Barcelona and then Geneva (by train at this point). The saga is presented in an exhibition of archive photos, in front of the Prado itself. This is a way of reminding one and all that, while human beings should be the priority during conflicts, masterpieces too are mortal.
Arte salvado: public exhibition on the Paseo del Prado, from 25 January to 21 March 2010.
•The documentary Las cajas españolas, by Alberto Porlan (2004) is dedicated to the subject.

Article and diaporama on El Pais


Living in Utopia with Fourier

BESANCON – His name is inextricably linked to the concept of utopia. Charles Fourier (1772-1837) was born in Besançon and spent his life creating the ideal model of the human being (governed by twelve «passions» that he organised into a Theory which the censureship prevented him from publishing) and progress, giving them various practical applications. The exhibition presents a few portraits of Fourier and the works of his disciples in the XIXth century, such as painter Dominique Papety, and tries above all to explore the influence of Fourier’s ideas in modern and contemporary art. Inspired by Fourier’s classifications, the itinerary is divided into twelve passions (cosmogony, mathematics, gastrosophie, etc) and includes creators of all types – such as André Breton, Robert Filliou, Alain Bublex or Frank Scurti – who give a constantly different face to utopia.
Charles Fourier ou l’écart absolu at the Musée des beaux-arts et d’archéologie, from 28 January to 26 April 2010. Catalogue.

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Black Power

LIVERPOOL – The Tate Liverpool has undertaken a huge investigation on how Black culture affected the art of the XXth century. It uses the Atlantic Ocean as a «pivot», given that millions of Africans condemned to slavery travelled across it. We of course know the influence African art had on Picasso and Derain. We also know the cultural revolution that came about with the Harlem Renaissance, represented both by Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong as well as by painters Romare Bearden or Aaron Douglas (to which were associated certain Europeans such as British Edward Burra, fascinated by the atmosphere of Black New York in the 1930s). Beyond these «founding myths», the thread of the demonstration can be followed up to our day: among Black visual artists such as Chris Ofili, Kara Walker or Fred Wilson, art maintains, more than among their contemporaries, a political dimension.
Afro Modern, Journeys through the Black Atlantic at the Tate Liverpool

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Damien Hirst, For the Love of God, Laugh, 2007, sérigraphie avec poussières de diamants, 83 x 5 x 112 cm. Collection particulière © Damien Hirst. All rights reserved, Adagp, 2010

Memento mori

PARIS – In our times vanity is shown abundantly as the idea of being seen, of appearing on covers of magazines or on «prime time» and has become an end in itself. Thinkers and theologians of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance, quickly relayed by the painters, endeavoured to protect others from the vacuity of this race towards honors and worldly pleasures. It was the precise object of the «vanitas», the allegoric representations of our short and miserable passage on earth, often in the shape of skulls. The power of these vanitas was unlimited in the XVIIth century, but they got quite a blow at the time of the Enlightenment. The curators of this show made a point of following their traces up to our day. They even intend to prove that they have never been as alive, as skulls and bones multiply in our day on earrings, T-shirts or covers for «gothic» music CDs. The demonstration in 150 works of art covers mosaics from Pompey to Andy Warhol and Marina Abramovic, including different intermediary steps such as the medieval macabre dances, or works by Caravaggio.
C’est la vie ! Vanités, de Caravage à Damien Hirst at the musée Maillol, from 3 February to 28 June 2010. Catalogue Skira Flammarion.

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Artoftheday also recommends ...

•At the Académie des beaux-arts in Paris, Consommer l'Orient, part of the Turkish Season, shows how an exotic myth becomes a powerful marketing argument to sell cigarettes, trips or perfumes. From 29 January to 26 February 2010.

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•After being exposed in Amsterdam, the letters of Vincent Van Gogh arrive in London, at the Royal Academy. Until 18 April 2010.

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•With the title Andy Warhol. Cars, the Albertina in Vienna dedicates an exhibition to the image of the Mercedes-Benz by Andy Warhol and a few other artists (Robert Longo, Sylvie Fleury, Vincent Szarek). Until 16 May 2010.

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French made musical automaton y Leopold LAMEBRT with bébé JUMEAU head, poured bisque with closed mouth, blue insert enamel eyes, bisque hands. Working. (circa 1895) Need to be dressed. Estimate: €2,900-3,500. Courtesy Lombrail-Teucquam, Paris. Photo: François Theimer.

Very dear dolls

PARIS –A doll at 15 000 €? It is possible, if we can trust the estimates of the experts for the Lombrail-Teucquam sale on 30 January. In this case it is a Jules Nicolas Steiner baby, series G. These estimates show that toy collectors are ready to take up a fight of bids worthy of those that fascinate amateurs of art objects. Of course one can find other less expensive ones: Jumeau babies or character babies of the SFBJ, starting at 500 or 800 €. The value depends of course on the rarity, the quality of the materials (head in pressed biscuit, mohair for the hair, eyes and sometimes tears in painted enamel, silk clothes, shoes and stockings for the luckier ones, sometimes with an imbricate phonographic mechanism) and the degree of articulation of the members. Miniatures, marionettes, cardboard scenes (a «room of the delivering mother», estimated at 5000 €), Aunt Sally games of many sorts and crocket, mechanical and magnetic games complete this incursion into the green paradise of childhood.
Poupées, automates et jouets anciens on 30 January and 6 February 2010 at Drouot-Richelieu (SVV Lombrail-Teucquam).

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JanVoss, Relief rouge, 2008, wood, 176x125x16 cm, ©ADAGP, Paris, courtesy Hôtel des Arts, Toulon

Jan Voss' colorful interlaces

I could do that! That is the impression one has when looking at paintings and drawings by Jan Voss, made of small motives that are almost abstract (heads, profiles of animals), Latin or imaginary letters, and long lines that become entangled, similar to balls of wool falling down the steps. All of it in bright, lively tones. We have the same reaction we have in front of a Miró or a Klee: we can always try, but we never manage to find that simplicity, that freshness. It is so difficult to be simple! For the last 50 years that he has lived in France, Jan Voss (born in 1936 in Hamburg) has spread his signs by the thousands in ink, pencil, acrylic paint, on canvas and on paper. And even in 3-D: indeed for the past few years the artist has rebuilt these puzzles in monumental wood assemblages.
•Jan Voss is exhibited at the Hôtel des Arts in Toulon from 30 January to 21 March 2010. Catalogue.

The website of the Hôtel des arts


The stone and the pen

Guides and monographs sometimes -or often- miss giving a soul to monuments. The Centre of national monuments, known in particular for its scholarly and austere publications, has decided to go one step further. It has revisited the nearly one hundred buildings in its «files» with an equal number of contemporary writers, who stage the site of their choice. The results are very varied and always very personal: Marie Nimier imagines the shooting of an ad for shaving foam at the castle of If while Jean-Marie Blas de Robles uses a tombstone from Glanum to bring back to life a gladiator’s last minutes in the arena of Arles. The readers who are not convinced by these stylistic compositions written by the cream of French writers (Robert Badinter, Christophe Donner, Marc Lambron or Hubert Nyssen are among them) may satisfy their appetite for more «traditional» knowledge with the additional notes.
100 monuments, 100 écrivains : histoires de France, directed by Adrien Goetz, published by éditions Patrimoine/Centre des monuments nationaux, 2009, ISBN : 978-2-7577-0057-0, 490 p., 80 €.

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ANGOULEME-The 37th international comic strip festival will be held from 28 to 31 January 2010.

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BOLOGNA-The modern and contemporary art fair Artefiera will be held from 29 to 31 January 2010. On 30 January, the city’s main galleries will be open late for a Notte bianca.

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ESSEN-The Folkwang Museum will reopen on 31 January 2010, in a building designed by British architect David Chipperfield.

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LONDON-A Gypsy by Van Dongen (approximately 8 million €) should be the most impressive lot during the modern art sale at Christie’s (2 February 2010). The next day at Sotheby’s all eyes will be set on the major Homme qui marche 1 by Giacometti and Klimt’s Landscape with cypresses, each expected to reach about 15 million €. A third master piece should sell in this range of prices: Pichet et fruits sur une table by Cézanne.

The sales at Christie's

NEW YORK - A Picasso painting from the rose period, L'Acteur was damaged by a visitor who provoked a six-inch cut when she fell accidently on it, on 22 January, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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PALM BEACH-The American International Fine Art Fair will be held from 3 to 8 February 2010.

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PARIS-The Baron Ribeyre auction house will offer on 29 and 30 January 2010 the sentimental correspondence of Mesrine, the former «public enemy n°1»: over one hundred letters, some of them illustrated with drawings of flowers, sent to his Canadian mistress Jocelyne Deraiche.

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TORINO-The Memorandum festival, specialized in historical memory, presents at the Museo Regionale delle Scienze Naturali an exhibition dedicated to the archives of local corporations such as Fiat, Olivetti or Alenia. From 29 January to 28 March 2010.

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