Art Of The Day Weekly
#145 - from 8 October 2009 to 14 October 2009
IN THE AIR
The moving frontiers of paedophilia
A great number of sociologists believe the crime of paedophilia has become more degrading in our societies than murder, be it assassination. The attention the media give the subject seems to go in their direction, from the Polanski case to that of Lahey (the Canadian bishop who was arrested at the airport in Ottawa last week in possession of child pornography on his portable computer). In the artistic world another event has just confirmed the feeling: a photograph of actress Brooke Shields nude at age 10 has just been removed from an exhibition. This has serious consequences, since the opening of the Pop Life retrospective at the Tate Modern has been delayed and the catalogue take off the shelves. It seems we have become very pervert societies in which the sight of a naked child only awakens lustful thoughts. But it was not the case a few years ago since, in 1983, the Court of Appeals of New York, not really known for its laxness, nonsuited Brooke Shields in her action to get these images back. The court declared the latter were neither «sexually suggestive, nor provocative nor pornographic». Evil seems to lie only in the eye of the beholder …
Dazzling lights from the maharajas
LONDON – They are the epitome of the luxury the Indian civilization produced: the maharajas, sovereigns of the sub-continent, who governed in the shadows of the British rulers from the XVIIIth century up to the country’s independence in 1947. The exhibition, with 250 objects mostly from the former ruling families, shows the great variety of their aesthetic tastes. They were first close of the Moghols, and became increasingly westernized, to the point of becoming the major sponsors of artists and Art déco interior decorators such as Boutet de Monvel. Turbans, weapons set with precious stones, palanquins and thrones are placed next to photographs by Man Ray and Cecil Beaton. The Patiala necklace, commissioned to Cartier in 1928, represents with its 2930 diamonds, the peak and the conclusion of this unbridled luxury.
Constantinople, two thousand years of power
PARIS – Byzantium? Istanbul? Constantinople? So many names to designate one same place, is a sign in itself: etymologically, Istanbul is derived from the Greek «city». This new Rome so desired by Constantine would become the capital of an Empire for more than a millennium and a half, up to the last Ottoman sultans from the beginning of the XXth century. During the Turkish Season, the Grand Palais describes this parable, initiated with the Greek colons and ended with the transfer of the capital to Ankara in 1924. Sarcophagus, evangelistaries, cameos, ivories, turban brooches, kaftans and Orientalist paintings tell us the story of this unlimited artistic exuberance and the fascination exercised by Constantinople on the Western world. After going through a dramatic scenography, the last section is dedicated to the most recent archaeological discoveries: the content of one of the 33 wooden boats, of which some are from the Neolithic period, that were dug up from under the Bosphorus during the excavations for the metro line.
ZURICH - Un dimanche à la Grande-Jatte, the jewel from the MoMA in New York did not cross the Atlantic, but the sketches will be shown. On the other hand, le Cirque, equally emblematic, was loaned by the musée d’Orsay: the retrospective dedicated to Georges Seurat wants to be as complete as possible. Among the 60 works shown, we will admire loans from private Swiss collections (including that of Ernst Beyeler), from the National Gallery in London and the Fine Arts museum in San Francisco (an Eiffel tower from 1889). This is enough to show the fundamental importance of the artist who died so young (32 years old in 1891) in the genesis of modern art. Through his pointillism and the use of geometric forms, Seurat made Impressionism evolve and influenced younger creators such as Fernand Léger.
Artoftheday also suggests
Florence, capital of the Romano family
FLORENCE – There was a time when the Tuscan capital was one of the centres of the market for antiques. The sale of the Romano collection, spread over four days, will bring this er back to life. Of Neapolitan origin and from a dynasty of ship builders, Salvatore Romano (1875-1955), settled in Florence and very quickly became one of the most important art dealers in the world. He befriended historians such as Bernard Berenson or Roberto Longhi and supplied collectors with unlimited means such as Samuel Kress. His son Francesco kept up his father’s business that took place at palazzo Magnani-Feroni – the same venue where the sale will be held. In it we will see Italian sculptures from the XIVth and XVth centuries, works by older masters (a Virgin and Child by Pompeo Batoni estimated at 100 000 euros), Empire furniture and a multitude of decorative objects from all periods - textiles, frames or ceramics – sometimes at very affordable prices.
ARTIST OF THE WEEK
Michael Kenna: dreaming landscapes
At a time when digital photography allows one to vary effects and colors and to produce in unlimited quantity, Michael Kenna follows a totally different road. The English photographer, born in 1953 and now living in the United States, only follows one type of subject, landscapes, natural and urban landscapes, which he treats almost exclusively in black and white, in small prints superbly done. Landscapes of the spirit, such as Easter Island or Mont-Saint-Michel, essential landscapes of sand and water, geometric perspectives of trees or atmosphere vibrations of Chinese fogs. But he also looks at industrial landscapes: in his transcriptions of the Ford plant at The Rouge, in Michigan, or of the cooling towers of the English nuclear plants, Michael Kenna never includes man, even if his presence, with this disciple of Bill Brandt, is often read in «negative».
We may have trouble with certain terms, such as corporeality or performing project, but once we get past that conceptual language, we can read with pleasure the destiny of these women photographers from the first century of this form of art. There is first of all the pioneer, Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879), born in Calcutta, who launched herself into the profession once she was in her forties. There is the countess of Castiglione, Napoleon III’s mistress, who not only officiated in the bedroom, but liked to carefully stage herself in front of the lens. There is Hannah Cullwick (1833-1909), an English servant who was in a sadomasochist relationship with a London gentleman. Then there is Claude Cahun (1894-1954), an audacious androgyne who perverted the sexual codes and flirted with Nazism. These mostly unusual lives show, according to the author, that a woman photographer is never an ordinary photographer. Her practice is an act of emancipation, of provocation, of feminism before its time.
BORDEAUX-The 1st contemporary art biennale, Evento, will be held from 9 to 18 October 2009. It presents the interventions by some fifty artists in the city.
LONDON - Art London, the modern and contemporary art fair, is being held at Chelsea Royal Hospital from 8 to 12 October 2009.
LONDON-The 2009 installation of the Unilever Series, in the hall of the Tate Modern, entrusted to artist Miroslaw Balka, will be inaugurated 13 October 2009.
PARIS - Frédéric Mitterrand, the French minister for Culture, announced that the national conservation and restoration center for national museums would be built in Cergy-Pontoise, close to Paris.
SAINT-ETIENNE – The City of design, set up in a part of the site of the former Manufacture d’armes, in a building designed by the Berlin agency Lin, opened on 3 October 2009.
SAINT-OUEN -The 4th World Antique event will be held from 8 to 11 October 2009 at the Puces de Saint-Ouen flea market.
TIRANA-The contemporary art Biennale groups together until 22 October 2009 some sixty artists in the hotel Dajti, the former exclusive spot of the nomenklatura.
This week, do not miss
ROBERT RAUSCHENBERG: GLUTS
BASEL – The exhibition at the Tinguely museum shows how Robert Rauschenberg, a fan of recycling, succeeded in giving a second life to objects which our society condemns to the dump. These Gluts, a reflection of the waste society, are recomposed into a series of sculptures rarely shown.
CLOUDS ON THE HORIZON… WONDERFUL CLOUDS
LE HAVRE -The Malraux museum, which holds some of the jewels of Eugène Boudin’s studies of skies, offers an itinerary through the theme of clouds. From the pioneers of photography up to the most contemporary artists, it has given way to an infinity of variations
IN THE COUNTRY OF THE DRAGON: SACRED ARTS FROM BHUTAN
PARIS -The Guimet museum presents in a very extensive manner a culture from the kingdom of Buthan that is poorly-known in the West, tantric Buddhism . It includes some one hundred sculptures from the monasteries of the Himalaya, produced between the VIIIth and the XIXth centuries.