Thursday, September 18, 2008

Art: King of kitsch invades Sun King's palace

Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
The Guardian,
Tuesday September 9 2008

Rabbit (1986), one of the work lent for the Jeff Koons exhibition at Versailles
It has been deemed the most "turbulent" event of the Paris art season, an invasion of giant lobsters and inflatable rabbits that protesters fear will sully France's most popular chateau. Jeff Koons, the US sculptor and "king of kitsch", is due to unveil some of his most famous works at the Château de Versailles tomorrow, the first time a modern artist has graced the historic rooms and gardens that were the pride of the Sun King, Louis XIV.

But even before the show opens, controversy is raging. Rightwingers wrote to the culture minister, protesting that the "sacred" site of Versailles would be cheapened. Then the French media questioned whether the exhibition at a palace that symbolises the French revolution would benefit a billionaire French collector.

François Pinault, whose business empire includes Gucci and the Christie's auction house, is one of the most influential private collectors in the modern art world. Alongside several other private collectors, he is a key patron of the Koons exhibition, lending six of the 17 works on show, including the giant outdoor flower sculpture Split Rocker.

Le Monde warned of a "possible conflict of interest", saying that Koons's first French exhibition would see the value of the works soar, benefiting their private owners. It pointed out that the chairman of the Château de Versailles, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, used to run Pinault's private art foundation in Venice.

Aillagon, a former French culture minister, told the Guardian last night that Versailles was a "living" monument that made a perfect setting for contemporary art: "Koons is notorious worldwide and so is the chateau." He said all exhibitions affected the art market, not deliberately, but by extension.

"Has this exhibition been programmed to provoke a rise of Jeff Koons' works on the market? Of course not. This exhibition is a cultural act to make a great artist known and to show off the value of our heritage. Has this exhibition been put on to enrich myself? I firmly refute that. This exhibition was a cultural decision alone ... Jeff Koons' works had already reached great heights on the international market, long before Versailles presented them."

He said he was independent and the Pinault family had been patrons of Versailles for several years, part-funding important furniture acquisitions.

Yesterday, the leftwing paper Libération dismissed the conservative protesters as marginal "Catholic monarchists".

Paris is no stranger to rows over modern additions to historic spaces, from Marc Chagall's fresco at the Opéra Garnier to the glass Pyramid at the Louvre - both now hailed as masterpieces.
As Paris struggles to shed its image as a fusty "museum city" and compete with London, Berlin and New York's vibrant modern art scenes, there is a new trend for traditional museums to bring in controversial contemporary work. The Louvre now has a modern art curator and this year took the daring step of showing works by the Belgian artist Jan Fabre alongside masters such as Rubens. The Château de Fontainebleau is following suit.

Koons told Le Figaro he did not want "to be the agent provocateur", but simply to "create an abstraction".

Viktor and Rolf's catwalk on the web

V&R have announced that their next catwalk show will take place on the web. This is the new surprise of V&R for their summer collection 2009. The press will be invited anyway for the presentation of this new collection.
Last July Renzo Rosso, founding father of Diesel and became main investor of the brand Viktor & Rolf with its company The Brave.
I have to say that once again V&R are extremely creative and have managed to create a buzz. I love it.

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Hirst’s Art Auction Attracts Plenty of Bidders, Despite Financial Turmoil

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images“The Kingdom” by Damien Hirst sold on Monday for $17.2 million, well above its high estimate.

Hirst’s Art Auction Attracts Plenty of Bidders, Despite Financial Turmoil
From the New York Times

Published: September 15, 2008

LONDON — Against a backdrop of reeling financial markets and nervous investors, Sotheby’s and the British artist Damien Hirst forged ahead with “Beautiful Inside My Head Forever,” a highly publicized auction of 223 works, all by Mr. Hirst and all made within the last two years.
In a gamble that could have ramifications for other artists, Mr. Hirst was bypassing his dealers — the Gagosian Gallery, based in the United States, and White Cube, based in London — and taking his work straight to auction with a sale that began here on Monday night and concludes on Tuesday afternoon.

And there were signs that the bet was paying off: the first session’s total was $127.2 million, above the high estimate of $112 million.

“I woke up this morning in the teeth of the gale of recession,” Mr. Hirst’s business manager, Frank Dunphy, said after the sale, “but we came out as confident as ever.”

Tobias Meyer, worldwide head of contemporary art at Sotheby’s, explained the total this way: “Damien Hirst is a global artist that can defy local economies.” Jose Mugrabi, a New York dealer, had another take: “Today people believe more in art than the stock market. At least it’s something you can enjoy.”

While Mr. Hirst risked flooding his own market, he had also spent several months courting potential buyers. Still, he could not anticipate the sale’s timing, amid news that Lehman Brothers had filed for bankruptcy and other serious changes on the financial landscape. Sotheby’s was said to be taking steps to ensure that the sale did not fall flat, like offering buyers a six-month grace period to pay for purchases.

Jay Jopling, owner of the White Cube gallery, could be seen in the audience bidding on works (and winning at least one, “The Triumvirate,” which features anatomical models, for $3.1 million). Word in the auction world was that Sotheby’s had given him an incentive to steer his clients to the sale. Sotheby’s declined to comment on any of the financial arrangements.
The headlines had little effect on the scene outside the salesroom here. The street was filled with television camera crews; fans hoping to spot celebrities like Bianca Jagger; and a crowd of collectors, dealers and curiosity seekers waiting for the doors to open. Inside later it was standing room only. But most of the action was on the telephone, with Sotheby’s flying in employees from all over the world to handle the bidding.

Over the past last 11 days nearly 20,000 people have flocked to Sotheby’s New Bond Street premises to see what looked like a polished retrospective. For sale were variations on all of Mr. Hirst’s best-known themes: dead animals, including several sharks, a calf, a zebra and doves, all submerged in formaldehyde; glass cabinets filled with diamonds, cigarette butts and practically everything in between; and paintings and drawings with his signature skulls and dots, swirls and butterflies.

As part of his sales pitch, Mr. Hirst said that he would no longer be making spin or butterfly paintings and that there would be far fewer dead animals and almost no dot paintings.
On Monday, the evening’s star was “The Golden Calf,” a white bullock preserved in formaldehyde, with hoofs and horns made of 18-carat gold and a gold disc crowning the head. The work was estimated at $15.8 million to $23.6 million and drew three bidders. It went for $18.6 million to a buyer on the phone.

Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images

A work along similar lines, “The Black Sheep With the Golden Horn,” had just two bidders, with the winner paying $4.7 million, in the middle of its $3.9 million to $5.9 million estimate. Three potential buyers vied for “The Kingdom,” another formaldehyde-preserved work, this one a tiger shark. It sold for $17.2 million, well above its high estimate of $11.8 million.
(Final prices include the commission paid to Sotheby’s: 25 percent of the first $20,000, 20 percent of the next $20,000 to $500,000 and 12 percent of the rest. Estimates do not reflect commissions.)

Also in the spotlight were Mr. Hirst’s glass-front cabinets, like “Fragments of Paradise,” filled with manufactured diamonds. After a bidding war that included Mr. Jopling, the work went for $9.3 million, well above its $2.9 million estimate. The winning bid was taken on the phone by Alina Davey, a Russian-speaking Sotheby’s representative based in London. Another diamond-filled cabinet, “Memories of/Moments With You,” went for $4.7 million, more than twice its high estimate of $2.3 million. But “End of the Line,” a cabinet filled with medical supplies, sold for $2.4 million, less than its low estimate of $2.9 million.

The auction room at Sotheby's during Mr. Hirst's auction. The first session’s total was $127.2 million, above the high estimate for the entire sale, $112 million.

“The Kingdom” by Damien Hirst sold on Monday for $17.2 million, well above its high estimate.
Skulls were incorporated in several of the pieces. “Beautiful Maat Intense Fetishistic Painting (With Extra Inner Beauty),” a work with the colorful impact of his swirl canvases, featured a skull in its center. It sold for $868,127, above the high estimate of $790,000. And “Transience Painting 2” had a skull nestled on a leather armchair with bubbles surrounding it. Priced at a high of $1.1 million, it sold for $1.8 million to a bidder on the phone.

Other paintings had butterflies, as well as diamonds, scalpel blades, rosaries, crucifixes and religious medals. These included “Sometimes Life Can Be Really, Really Dark,” which brought $1.3 million, above the high estimate of $1.1 million.

Mr. Hirst also produced works that resemble stained-glass windows in churches. The round, butterfly-covered “Rose Window, Durham Cathedral” carried a high estimate of $1.7 million but sold for more: $2.2 million. Four bidders sought “Calm,” a red canvas also using butterflies to create a stained-glass effect. It sold for $1.2 million, just above its high estimate of $1.1 million.
Dot paintings were on offer too, in a variety of colors and sizes. “Myristoycholine Iodide,” a 6-foot-by-7-foot-11-inch canvas, was estimated at $990,000 to $1.3 million. But it went for $868,126, a sign that perhaps there have been too many dot paintings for sale in the past year.
One of his more macabre works, “Devil Worshiper,” a canvas with dead flies, didn’t sell. And neither did “Theology, Philosophy, Medicine, Justice,” which featured four bullsharks floating in two tanks.

Mr. Dunphy said that while Mr. Hirst wasn’t at Sotheby’s, he was following the results via phone — while playing snooker.

To learn more:

Steve Forrest for The New York Times
The head auctioneer calling for bids on Monday, the first day of the auction in London.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Cy Twombly at Tate Modern, London run as it's almost over...

If you haven't seen the exhibition of Cy Twombly's paintings and sculptures, then you need to rush as you have only until the 14th September to enjoy it.

Tate Modern presents a major exhibition of works by Cy Twombly, one of the most highly regarded painters working today and a foremost figure among the generation of American artists that includes Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol. Twombly rose to prominence through a distinctive style characterised by scribbles and vibrantly daubed paint. This is his first solo retrospective in fifteen years, and provides an overview of his work from the 1950s to now.

Twombly emerged as a painter at the height of Abstract Expressionism, then in 1957 he left America for Italy, where he drew inspiration from European literature and classical culture. At the heart of the exhibition is Twombly’s work exploring the cycles associated with seasons, nature and the passing of time. Several key groups are brought together for the first time, such as Tate’s Four Seasons 1993–4 with those from the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The exhibition also explores how Twombly is influenced by antiquity, myth and the Mediterranean, for example the violent red swirls in the Bacchus 2005 paintings which bring to mind the drunken god of wine.

This exhibition provides a unique opportunity to see the full range of Twombly’s long and influential career from a fresh perspective

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Kate Moss is just the best...

Kate Moss made a triumphant return to walk the catwalk in her first show in more than four years.

The model appeared at The House Of Blue Eyes fashion show in Shepherd's Bush last night as a favour to her friend, designer Johnny Blue Eyes at his first fashion show.
Kate grabbed a top hat and cane to join Beth Ditto of The Gossip in the show which was hosted by Scissor Sisters' singer Ana Matronic, and attended by a cheering posse of the model's friends including boyfriend Jamie Hince.

She's simply rock'n'roll !
This makes me want to show you the Manifesto by Stefano Pilati for YSL where the beautiful Brit is featured. Enjoy

Monday, September 1, 2008

Jean Paul Gaultier and Angelin Preljocaj working together

Two of my idols have decided to collaborate together. Angelin Preljocaj, that I know and truly admire from "Personne n'epouse les meduses", beautiful and genius choreographer, has called Jean Paul Gaultier for an exclusive collaboration for his new ballet : "Snow White" which will premiere at the Dance Biennale, in Lyon, France from 25 September to 4 October.

Here is an interview (in French though) of Jean-Paul Gaultier on his inspiration and work with Angelin in the French daily newspaper Le Monde from the 20 August 2008.

"Travailler avec Preljocaj, c'est une histoire d'amour intéressée"
LE MONDE 20.08.08 16h12 • Mis à jour le 20.08.08 16h12

Le couturier Jean Paul Gaultier crée les costumes du spectacle Blanche-Neige, chorégraphié par Angelin Preljocaj, inscrit au programme de la Biennale de la danse de Lyon, du 25 septembre au 4 octobre. A la demande du directeur du Ballet Preljocaj-Centre chorégraphique d'Aix-en-Provence, Gaultier, le plus strictement extravagant de sa génération, partenaire de création de la chorégraphe Régine Chopinot de 1983 à 1993, a relevé le défi de ce conte ultra-féminin entre cruauté initiatique et relooking Disney.

Lors du premier essayage des costumes au Pavillon noir, lieu de travail de Preljocaj, Gaultier remet son ouvrage sur le métier à chaque costume. Ses décisions sont rapides et simplement autoritaires, saisies dans le souffle de l'inspiration. Entretien virevoltant dans sa maison de couture parisienne avec un réactif passionné qui associe les images et les idées plus vite que son coup de crayon.

Pourquoi l'étape du premier essayage est-elle si tendue ?
C'est un moment difficile, celui où je vois pour la première fois sur un corps humain les costumes que j'ai imaginés et dessinés. Tout d'un coup, on découvre parfois que non seulement, ce n'est pas la bonne matière, mais pas la bonne couleur. Je suis dans un état de choc nerveux. Il faut trouver une direction, analyser, rebondir.
On effectue toujours un parcours par rapport à un costume qu'on a dessiné. Heureusement, sa concrétisation passe par d'autres mains et me permet d'avoir une réaction très libre. Le réaliser moi-même m'empêcherait de prendre du recul. Lors d'un essayage, il y a des agencements qui reviennent, des expériences déjà vécues, qui heureusement font partie des commodités du travail. Mais on veut aussi changer, trouver du nouveau. S'adapter à un spectacle, à un chorégraphe, ça aide aussi à aller autre part.

Pour quelles raisons collaborez-vous avec Angelin Preljocaj ?
Je ne travaille qu'avec des gens que j'admire. C'est un luxe. Qu'il s'agisse de Régine Chopinot, qui m'impressionne toujours autant, ou de Madonna, je suis amoureux du travail et j'apprécie la personne. Mais une nouvelle aventure doit me faire aller ailleurs. C'est une histoire d'amour intéressée en quelque sorte. Je connais Angelin depuis quelque temps. J'ai vu certains de ses spectacles comme Eldorado, visuellement magnifique. Les apparitions des danseurs qui sortent de cadres comme par un procédé de morphing sont proches de ce que j'aime.

Que représente "Blanche-Neige" pour vous ?
Je travaillais depuis quelques mois pour mes collections sur des histoires de princes et de princesses, sur les contes : celui de La Petite Sirène, de Peau d'âne. Lorsque Angelin a évoqué Blanche-Neige, c'était l'évidence pour moi, ce que je cherchais sans y avoir pensé : l'archétype du conte de fées.

Quel personnage préférez-vous dans "Blanche-Neige" ?
Blanche-Neige évidemment. Mais aussi la méchante reine, qui est assez fascinante dans le registre Cruella. Il me semble plus intéressant de montrer non seulement la femme romantique et douce mais aussi la femme forte, décidée. Les femmes sont plus fortes que les hommes dans les moments difficiles. Nous sommes souvent lâches. Pendant que les petits garçons vont jouer au football, les filles commencent déjà à parler des problèmes qui les intéressent. Mais les hommes se construisent souvent grâce et par les femmes.

Vous aussi ?
Ma grand-mère a été très importante. Adolescent, j'ai connu des filles avec lesquelles je pouvais parler. Madonna aujourd'hui symbolise pour moi la post-libération de la femme. C'est pour elle que j'ai imaginé un soutien-gorge aux seins pointus, très agressifs. Les seins qui tuent en quelque sorte.

Quelle a été votre méthode de travail avec Angelin Preljocaj ?
Il avait des idées précises sur le décor. Lorsque nous avons évoqué la scène de bal, j'ai vu des costumes qui n'en seraient pas vraiment, à la fois historiques, avec des rappels du passé, les codes vestimentaires du conte, mais modernisés et surtout adaptés aux mouvements de danseurs. Il faut aller vers ce que désire l'autre. C'est un très bon exercice.

Cette complicité a-t-elle influencé votre recherche ?
Peut-être, à force d'avoir le nom de Preljocaj dans la tête... Dans Preljocaj, il y a le mot "cage". Pour ma collection d'hiver 2008, il y a beaucoup de cages, de crinolines, des structures qui se posent sur des robes comme une décoration extérieure, une protection qui change le volume du corps. Comme j'ai pu concevoir des corsets en ne gardant que les baleines, j'ai imaginé des crinolines avec justes des arcs.

Vous vous effacez derrière le ballet. Est-ce facile ?
Ce serait ridicule de me mettre en avant. Une histoire, un ballet, un film, sont avant tout des ensembles et le costume doit s'intégrer dedans. Lorsque je travaille avec quelqu'un, je le respecte, je le flatte, je suis même servile. Peut-être trop parfois tellement j'ai envie d'aller dans son sens, de servir l'histoire. Ça peut d'ailleurs me faire oublier des idées précises que j'avais sur le sujet. Mais sans être prétentieux, j'ai le sentiment que mon style est suffisamment fort pour résister.

Quel rapport entretenez-vous avec le spectacle de danse et plus généralement le spectacle vivant ?
Enfant, j'ai adoré le feuilleton télé L'Age heureux, d'Odette Joyeux, qui se déroulait à l'Opéra de Paris. J'avais une dizaine d'années et nous rejouions des scènes avec ma cousine.
C'est à travers le film Falbalas, de Jacques Becker, qui mettait en scène des défilés de mode, qu'est né mon désir de mode. On y voyait les vêtements en mouvement. Je ne les imagine d'ailleurs jamais qu'en mouvement. Sur cintres, ils sont morts. Lorsque j'étais chez Cardin, le défilé était un vrai spectacle, très théâtral.
Mais c'est au Châtelet, où ma grand-mère m'avait emmené voir Rose de Noël, avec Luis Mariano, que j'ai eu aussi un choc. Le rideau rouge qui s'ouvrait... Mon approche de la mode vient aussi de ce moment-là : au théâtre, les gens sont vraiment là, il y a du vivant, on se montre, on fait, on dit.

Blanche-Neige, d'Angelin Preljocaj. Biennale de la danse, Lyon. Du 25 septembre au 4 octobre. Tél. : 04-72-26-38-01. De 26 € à 35 €
Propos recueillis par Rosita Boisseau

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