Thursday, June 26, 2008

I am still in love with Cat Power...

Assume vivid astro focus

Assume vivid astro focus - ENEL CONTEMPORANEA 2008
Largo Argentina, Rome
3rd July – 3rd September 2008
Curated by Francesco Bonami

For Enel Contemporanea 2008, Largo Argentina plays host to an energetic, psychedelic project by the Brazilian group assume vivid astro focus. The marriage between ancient art and pop art from contemporary society is vigorously expressed in this archeological site of considerable historical and artistic importance. avaf’s lively and at times provocative installations, always placed in original urban contexts, raise questions about the prejudices, convictions and problems of distinct cultural traditions and cities, in order to draw the public closer to situations that are unfamiliar or simply hard to explore. For Largo Argentina, avaf create a dynamic, playful and convoluted route to bring the public towards the ruins, letting them experience close-up an artistic site that is generally only visible from above. The trenches, walkways and shortcuts welcome spectators and invite them to take a journey through places soaked in history via contemporary visions. While the sparkling coloured lights highlight the chromatic contours of the ancient temples, temporarily lending the site a novel splendour and a fresh brilliance, the videos projected onto the ruins narrate idyllic and visionary new tales.

Francesco Bonami

The Brazilian group assume vivid astro focus (avaf) have exhibited around the world with solo and collective shows in some of the most prestigious international institutions, including MOMA in New York (2007-2008), the Athens Biennial (2007); Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Chicago, MOT in Tokyo (2007–2008), Art Basel Miami Beach (2007) and Frieze Art Fair in London (2004). They created a public art project in Central Park, New York, sponsored by The Public Art Fund, in cooperation with the Whitney Biennale (2004) and have had solo exhibitions at: Kunsthalle, Vienna; John Connelly Presents, New York; Deitch Projects, New York; Galeria Triângulo, Sãu Paolo (Brazil); Hiromi Yoshii Gallery, Tokyo and Galleria Massimo de Carlo, Milan. On-going and forthcoming solo shows include: Deitch Projects, New York, May 2008, and Peres Projects, Berlin, September 2008. Assume vivid astro focus will also take part in the 28th Biennial of Sãu Paolo (Brazil). Avaf live and work between Paris and New York.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Ma Dame, the new Jean Paul Gaultier's fragrance

Jean Paul Gaultier launched his new fragrance for women. Ma Dame, as it's called, reveals smell of rose, musc and cedre and his showcased in a typical JPG bottle.
Agyness Deyn, is the new muse for this fragrance and will be featured in the commercial.
We will see her with long hair, black trousers and white shirt. The ad is made by Jean-Baptiste Mondino and will present Agyness cutting her hair, her pair of jeans and opening her shirt and finally kissing JPG.
Agyness couldn't be a better model as JPG has been inspired by London and the punk culture for years.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tracey Emin chose scandalous art for the Royal Academy summer show in London

‘I’m not going to drive a red bus into the Royal Academy and hang everything inside it – I’m not out to be provocative on that kind of level’

Tracey Emin has unveiled last week a room full of scandalous and sexually connoted artworks at the Royal Academy, in London. Emin was admitted into the Royal Academy last year and this is the first time she has curated a room at the show. Among the works Tracey had chosen for the summer show a sculpture featuring dozens of pink penises by artduo Tim Noble and Sue Webster, a porcelain sculpture of human figures and genitalia by Rachel Kneebone or a picture of a zebra performing what looks like sex with a woman by Matt Collishaw, former Emin's boyfriend. Emin explains that she had chosen those works that made her feel "excited and feverish". Other piece include Sigalit Landau's video of a naked woman doing the hula hoop with barbed wire shown at the MoMA of NY in April and that I found absolutely fascinating.

To learn more:

Friday, June 6, 2008

Profile : Marc Spiegler Fair Manager

Marc Spiegler is Art Basel’s co-director…which means one of the most powerful men of the art market.
The 39 years-old successor of the charismatic Sam Keller is French-American. He co-directs Art Basel - with Annette Schönholzer, in charge of logistics - the most important art fair in the world. This year, more than 1000 galleries have applied to get the chance to exhibit at Art Basel.
His mother was French and his father American, Marc Spiegler grew up in Chicago where his parents used to teach politics. Instead of going to Harvard, he studied social sciences in a small University of Chicago and gets in the “rugby” team.
Waiting for his journalism career to start, the rugby player did different kind of jobs, and became king of campus parties. “I became a journalist because it’s a job that can lead to anything. If you want to switch off to architecture, politics, technologies, media, and art it’s absolutely possible…and that’s what I did.”
Quickly recognized for two sports articles, his professional career rose with an article on gay rodeo. “People that do rodeo but who are gays. Horses I don’t know, but the cow-boys, yes.”

He became then editor of a weekly publication, and writer for the monthly Chicago Magazine. He wrote a paper on the troubles that the Chicago Museum went through, which opened him the doors to one of the most prestigious art publication : Art&Auction. He then set up in Europe.
When, in 1998 he moved to Switzerland, he looked at every New-York-based publications in order to become their correspondant. He still wrote for Art&Auction and worked then for ArtNews, Art Review, The Art Newspaper. Basically all the important art publications. Because Marc Spiegler invented a genre.
At the time, he defined himself as « a journalist of the art world » which was
sometimes perceived as full of arrogance by some of his colleagues. "I wasn’t an art critic, and I didn’t want to limit myself to the market : I was writing on the evolution of the art world.” Indeed he explored the social aspect of globalisation that he knew before the others : networks that link artist , galleries, curators… He tells the world how grateful his education was. “My education background helped me a lot. Trying to think in a rigorous way, analysing then writing. Not boring, if possible. Without going straight to conclusions.”

At the beginning and as he didn’t really know the art market, he focused on news and facts. When his network had grown a bit, and trusted him, he started huge features. “the third step, is when I started writing comments and when I offered analysis.” Analysis where Spiegler raises problems.
Called by Sam Keller after he decided to resign, Marc Spiegler had to go through a tough interview with the Art Basel comittee to become director of the Fair. But his knowledge of the art, his challenging and cutting-edge attitude, his fresh ideas and the audit he presented during that interview convinced. The former party-goer is a very charming man with a big brain...
His philosophy : "No risk, no fun."
To learn more:

Is Marc Jacobs the New Andy Warhol ?

In the last issue of Interview Magazine, Marc Jacobs is compared with Andy Warhol... Let me remind you that Interview was founded by pop-art genius himself.

I don't really believe this comparison is relevant as, apart from being both New Yorker, I don't really see any common points. I love Marc Jacobs, I believe he is a great designer but he's not an artist. He certainly loves contemporary art and has strong knowledge of it, but I am not sure this comparison is accurate. Or I may be wrong ? You let me know.

However Marc by Marc Jacobs know how to play with marketing as the Bleecker Street shop has recently put on sale t-shirts with the cover of the very issue...

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Art Basel 2008 -

Van de Weghe Fine Art found a European buyer for Jean-Michel Basquiat's “The Dingoes That Park Their Brains with Their Gum” (1988) for $5.3 million.

BASEL—The bittersweet lament that permeated yesterday’s Art Basel VIP preview — “Where have all the Americans gone?” — continued on opening day.

Though strangely, the absence has made itself felt not in the number of transactions, but rather as a shift in geographic influence. Not that all dealers are that concerned. As one put it, “Not to sound really mercenary, but I don’t care whether the Americans buy the work or not.”
Marc Glimcher, president of New York’s PaceWildenstein, put it even more bluntly: “We can’t take the time to figure out what’s going on in the art market,” he said, “because we’re too busy counting our money.”

Glimcher ticked off a roster of six-figure sales in less than 24 hours, citing two works apiece by new gallery artists, Zhang Huan and Zhang Xiaogang, including Zhang Xiaogang’s Boy and TV (2005) and Zhang Huan’s Memory Door series (Map 2008), at prices between $200,000 and $700,000. The gallery also sold Dialogue (2007), a large abstraction by the storied 72-year-old Korean artist Lee Ufan, priced “in the $300–500,000 range,” and a number of Sol LeWitt geometric-patterned gouaches recently released by the artist’s estate, at prices ranging from $50,000 to $150,000.

Demand for Chinese art appeared high overall. A rather saccharine-styled figurative work by TianBing Li, Bataille derriere la table #2 (Battle behind the table #2) (2008), sold for $195,000 at L&M Arts. And at New York's Acquavella, new gallery artist Zeng Fanzhi’s oil-on-canvas Portrait 08-2-1 (2008) went for $1–1.5 million.

Acquavella also had one of the fair’s bigger-ticket sales: the heavily impastoed Lucian Freud painting Girl in Attic Doorway (1994–95), which went for a sum approaching the asking price of $12 million. Rumor had it that Russian multi-billionaire Roman Abramovich had had his eyes on the painting, following his recent acquisition of Freud’s Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (1995) at Christie’s New York last month for a record-shattering $33,641,000. Multiple spottings of the casually dressed Russian metals magnate and his beautiful companion, Dasha Zhukova, at the main fair spurred the unconfirmed speculation, but dealer Nick Acquavella would say only, “It went to a European buyer.”

Meanwhile, a much smaller, page-sized Freud of a cross-legged nude, Resting on the Green Chair II (2000) sold to an American buyer (!) for $1.8 million.

“We’ve seen good business,” said Acquavella, “excellent clients and it’s going strong. People are saying ‘less Americans,’ but what does that mean?” Apparently not much.

Buttonholed in the Basquiat, Giacometti, and Picasso–filled stand of New York’s Jan Krugier, London private dealer Ivor Braka admitted he had just bought a major Damien Hirst sculpture, But how do you really feel (1996), comprised of six stainless-steel and glass-encased plastic skeletons, from Jay Jopling of London’s White Cube. Braka didn’t want to divulge the price, believed to be in the $4 million range, because, as he says, “I don’t know yet what I’m going to do with it. Usually I hold onto things for a long time.”

Braka also expressed surprise that such good works were still available on the second day. He said he had missed the action during the preview, claiming “I spent most of my time at Chez Donati, having lunch and watching the Rhine.”

That relaxed and casual style, as if there was plenty of time to make deals, seemed to characterize the mood in the halls, but not everyone was relaxing. The folks at London/Zurich’s Hauser & Wirth spent most of Tuesday night re-hanging their substantial stand, which boasts a Belgian oak floor and a specially fitted ceiling, all of it designed by architect Tom Postma.
The gallery had sold Berlinde de Bruyckere’s wax, epoxy, wood, and metal figurative sculpture Pieta from 2008 for €190,000, and all three versions of Paul McCarthy’s wacky and almost wonderful Captain Ball Sack (2001–08), executed in cast foam core, for $1.8 million

Hauser & Wirth also sold a four-meter-wide untitled Guillermo Kuitca painting from 2007 for $450,000 and a fresh-from-the-studio Subodh Gupta triptych in oil and enamel, Still, Steal, Steel #4, measuring roughly 66 by 269 inches, for €650,000.

But all of the fair’s action wasn’t reserved for contemporary wares; two Pablo Picasso paintings from the 1960s sold at Madrid’s Elvira González gallery. Buste de Jeune Garcon and Nu Allonge et buste et home, both from 1964, sold to European clients for approximately €1 million and $2.5 million, respectively.

Hauser & Wirth sold a Subodh Gupta triptych in oil and enamel, “Still, Steal, Steel #4” for €650,000.

“I think there are sales,” said dealer Fernando Gonzalez, “But it’s not like last year.”
New York’s Richard Feigen would probably agree. Though much talked about and admired, a major and luscious 60-by-48-inch Willem de Kooning painting, Woman, from circa 1969–70 and priced at $15 million, was still available at the veteran dealer’s booth on opening day, much to his surprise. “Dealers have been making low-ball offers at half the asking price,” he said, “so they can make a big profit, but I doubt the owner is interested at that level.”

Perhaps Feigen’s somewhat out-of-the-way location, off the more heavily trafficked main drags of the blue-chip stands, had something to do with it. In any event, the painting ranks high in eye-candy stature.

Fellow New Yorker Christophe van de Weghe, however, fell more in the PaceWildenstein and Acquavella camp.

“I sold everything to the Europeans,” said the surprised dealer, including a life-size Duane Hanson Cowboy in bronze and polychromed with oil, mixed media, and accessories from 1984, for $550,000 — a work that had not sold when the gallery offered it at Art Basel Miami Beach in December.

Van de Weghe also sold Roy Lichtenstein’s Imperfect Sculpture (1995), the last in an edition of six in stained cast iron and painted steel plates for $650,000, and, for $5.5 million, a small but glowing untitled Mark Rothko from 1968 in acrylic on paper and mounted on panel. And the superb late Basquiat The Dingoes That Park Their Brains with Their Gum (1988), in acrylic and oil stick, found a European buyer at $5.3 million.

The level of action, especially given the somewhat lower turnout, bodes well for next year. Imagine what could happen if the Americans decide to come back and give the Europeans a run for their money.

Judd Tully is Editor at Large of Art+Auction.

Axel Kasseböhmer at Monika Sprüth Philomene Magers Munich

Image: Axel Kasseböhmer - Provence und Montagne Sainte Victoire. Courtesy of Monika Sprüth Philomene Magers Munich

Axel Kasseböhmer"Neue Arbeiten"
29 May - 26 July 2008

I really like his work and though his re-interpretation of Montagne Sainte Victoire is very interesting.

In Axel Kasseböhmer's latest series of pictures he returns to a principle from his early work, taking motifs from the history of art. Having begun his artistic career in the late 1970s by selecting, isolating and reinterpreting subjects taken mainly from Renaissance works - think pillars and fabric folds - Kasseböhmer now refers back to one of the most famous series of paintings in more recent art history, Paul Cézanne's variations of Mont Sainte Victoire.

Kasseböhmer, who is also a lecturer at the Kunstakademie in Munich, produced his own series of deckle-edged, oil-based watercolours in 2007-2008 entitled "ovence und Montagne Sainte Victoire", based on Cézanne's pictures.

Kasseböhmer's pictures initially appear to represent a disenchantment with Cézanne, who made the mountain glow with his "fanned-out" style of painting, juxtaposing contrasting colours. Kasseböhmer's works, by contrast, are virtually devoid of colour. While Cézanne's mountain range seems to be removed from any specific point in time, Kasseböhmer includes a modern road or a house; in other words he does not hide signs of civilisation His grisaille leaves are reminiscent of a description by the Austrian author Peter Handke, who dedicated an entire book to Cézanne and his representations of Mont Sainte Victoire. Some years afterwards Handke revisited the area and was disillusioned by how rocky and barren the landscape seemed following a serious forest fire. "The sublime Sainte Victoire, the blessed mountain (emanating from light, from colours, from silence) was robbed of its magic by the fire, naked as it were, stripped bare to its last layer of colour."

Yet it is precisely this "bare" landscape which Kasseböhmer succeeds in seeing anew and manages to communicate to the viewer. He discovers numerous structures in the karstic rock, creating an autonomous world simply by using highly differentiated modulations of light and dark. Cézanne's visual world was once equally autonomous. Kasseböhmer's capacity for variation is astonishing, as is indeed the case for his entire oeuvre. This becomes particularly clear from the way he handles materials. He is such a virtuoso of what is appropriate that it is always possible to perceive the specific essence of painting in his works - and explain why it cannot be replaced with another medium. The latter point is also pertinent to this series, as Kasseböhmer once commented in an interview, "A good painter does not differ from a bad one by taking a subject matter which is more intelligent, more exotic or otherwise extreme. The difference lies in which material he is capable of dealing with and how this is achieved."

Works by Axel Kasseböhmer (born in 1952) can be found in many significant private and public art collections, such as MoMA in New York, the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. He has been a professor at the Akademie der bildenden Künste in Munich since 1995. Text by Professor Dr. Wolfgang Ulrich, Professor of Aesthetics and Media Theory.

Monika Sprüth Philomene Magers MunichSchellingstrasse 48D-80799 Munich

To learn more : Monika Sprüth Philomene Magers Munich

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Edo-Tokyo Museum - David Bowie

To celebrate its 15th anniversary, the Edo-Tokyo Museum opened a special exhibition last month entitled Netsuki Shinten: Kansai Genki Shugi (Passionate Exhibit: The Energy Principle of Kansai).

Japanese fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto collaborated on the production of the exhibition which explores the impact of traditional culture and Japan’s unique aestheticism using his designs as a starting point.

As you're most likely aware, some of the very best examples of his work are the stunning stage clothes he made for David Bowie in 1972/73, some of which can be viewed in the breathtaking display of Kansai Bowie costumes at the exhibition. Here's a recent quotation from David regarding them.

"The Kansai Yamamoto costume designs that Kansai and I chose for the Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane tours contributed significantly to pushing away from the 60s and for creating new sensibilities for the post-modern 70s. Kansai's brave ideas brought Japanese clothes design to the forefront of fashion." - David Bowie 2008.

Netsuki Shinten: Kansai Genki Shugi runs until June 6th.

Total Blam Blam - (BowieNet News Editor)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Adieu Monsieur Saint Laurent

He was a living myth. Yves Saint Laurent passed away yesterday, at the age of 71, in Paris.

Yves Saint Laurent remains one of the most influential figure of 20th century fashion, widely considered the last of a generation that included Christian Dior and Coco Chanel.

When he first asked to meet Michel de Brunhoff, the powerful man behind Vogue Paris, he looked like a litterature student of Saint Germain. “He showed us his sketches and we could expect a talented designer but certainly not a trendsetter. He was from Oran says Edmonde Charle-Roux, and what we saw in his notebook was almost what Dior was to present a few days later. Impressed by his talent, Michel de Brunhoff introduced then the young designer to Christian Dior. Saint Laurent was only 18 years old but he already knew that he would dedicate his life to fashion.”

In fact a year later, Christian Dior engaged him as his assistant. After his death at 57, Saint Laurent became the head of the Dior fashion house situated Avenue Montaigne.

Pierre Bergé was his ultimate and complete partner. Head of the strategy of the Saint Laurent’s empire, Bergé helped him become a fantastic colorist introducing him to artworks by Van Gogh, Picasso, Braque, Warhol, and Mondrian. These artists revealed him the beauty of colors. («I only believed in black»)

Later, Bergé and Saint Laurent would become art patrons, building their own Foundation, sponsoring a lot of exhibitions and financing the National Gallery in London for example; two rooms now have his names. For Saint Laurent not only is fashion an art, it is also a show. Saint Laurent designed suits for Catherine Deneuve in “Belle de Jour” and we all remember his collection dedicated to the Russian ballets.

From the first YSL tuxedo and his trim pantsuits to see-through blouses, safari jackets and glamorous gowns, Saint Laurent created instant scandalous classics that remain stylish decades later.
When the designer announced his retirement in 2002 at the age of 65, it was mourned in the fashion world as the end of an era. His ready-to-wear label, Rive Gauche, which was sold to Gucci in 1999, still has boutiques around the world.

«Chanel liberated women, Saint ­Laurent gave them power» Pierre Bergé.

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