Monday, December 29, 2008

Tom Ford

Pure style: MTV Vogue Madonna

Greta Garbo, and Monroe
Deitrich and DiMaggio
Marlon Brando, Jimmy Dean
On the cover of a magazine

Grace Kelly; Harlow, Jean
Picture of a beauty queen
Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire
Ginger Rodgers, dance on air

They had style, they had grace
Rita Hayworth gave good face
Lauren, Katherine, Lana too
Bette Davis, we love you

Ladies with an attitude
Fellows that were in the mood
Don't just stand there, let's get to it
Strike a pose, there's nothing to it

Thursday, December 25, 2008's 2008 in Review: Stories of the Year

The art world is rarely at a loss for great stories, but 2008 may have provided even more than usual. Below, what we considered to be the top 5 (actually, 6) stories in an exciting and turbulent year.

1. Hirst’s First (and Last?)Although he is not without his competitors, by 2008 perennial art world prankster Damien Hirst had emerged as the leading heir to Warhol, heading up a movement that views art less as solitary pursuit than corporate venture. This fall Hirst pulled off his latest, perhaps most audacious stunt: a straight-from-the-studio auction of primary market material (all from 2008) — and this shortly after announcing that he would be discontinuing his spin and butterfly series, instantly increasing their value. Well, everything in that sale turned out to be valuable. The three-session auction earned £111,576,800 ($200,953,342), a number that easily eclipsed the combined pre-sale high estimate of £98 million. Not bad for a year’s work. Then a funny thing happened. The event that threatened to upend the way business is done in the art world (dealers, who needs dealers?) was superseded by bigger events, namely a global financial crisis that made multimillion-dollar animal carcasses in formaldehyde look — what’s the word, garish? unnecessary? silly? overpriced? — and with a single stroke Hirst’s bold auction was transformed from avant-garde to rearguard, a quaint sort of swan song, the let-them-eat-cake moment of what will someday be known as the great art market boom of the early 20th century.

2. An Art World BailoutOn November 19, just after the New York contemporary auctions tanked and it seemed like art-world news couldn’t get much more depressing, the Los Angeles Times reported that the city’s revered Museum of Contemporary Art was in deep financial crisis and possibly looking to merge with another institution. The first donor to speak out after the initial shock wore off was mega-collector and philanthropist Eli Broad, who penned an op-ed piece in the Times offering to bail out MOCA to the tune of $30 million. The museum’s board of trustees remained relatively quiet in the face of this mega-proposal, until some three weeks later, when, on the day before they were set to meet, the head of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Michael Govan, stepped out of the shadows and put forth a different proposal: a merger between the two institutions.
After much deliberating, MOCA’s board accepted Broad’s offer, which involves a matching grant system for half of the money and the donation of the other half in $3 million installments over five years. But more important than the crisis’s resolution is what it revealed about MOCA, namely that the trouble had been mounting long before the economy went south: Director Jeremy Strick had been overspending and dipping into the museum’s reserves for nine years, and past trustees had gone so far as to leave in protest of his excessive habits.
Now Strick has resigned, and the museum has brought in its first ever CEO, UCLA chancellor emeritus Charles Young; the hope is that under new leadership, the museum will get itself back on track. But the experience has been a scary one for MOCA, as well as the entire art community, and hammers home the all-too important reminder that a museum’s health hinges on much more than just its exhibitions and reputation. As the country’s arts institutions collectively brace for a recession predicted to be the biggest in more than half a century, we can only say, hopefully, lesson learned.

3. Art World Goes for the GoldThe art world dips its toe in many a water in the name of inspiration, collaboration, and, well, business, venturing into the worlds of fashion, say, (see Chanel’s [one-time] roaming art pod) or politics (Shepard Fairey’s ubiquitous Obama portrait). But one area art has generally left untouched is sports. That is, until 2008, when the largest sports happening on earth just so happened to be taking place in what is (or was, anyway) also one of the art world’s most exploding markets — an opportunity that was not lost on that event’s hosts.For this year’s summer Olympics in Beijing we saw the Chinese government pouring billions of yuan into putting its best cultural foot forward in hundreds of new or updated museums and galleries. Chinese artists Ai Weiwei and Cai Guo Qiang also got in on the spectacle, and Western dealers like Pace and James Cohan hoped to stake their claims in a new frontier. But what will come of all those shiny new spaces now that the athletes have returned home?

4. A Tale of Two TransitionsWhen the Metropolitan Museum of Art named little-known Thomas P. Campbell as the successor to outgoing director Philippe de Montebello, the art world let out a collective gasp: Who? The choice of an obscure, bookish tapestries scholar to lead America’s, and perhaps the world’s, leading arts institution came as a shock in the era of… well, Thomas Krens, the controversial, high profile, celebrity-courting Guggenheim director who announced in Februrary that he was stepping down from his post. With his eye toward blockbuster exhibitions and global expansion, and his eccentric taste (motorcycles, anyone?), Krens practically reinvented the role of museum director — from gentleman scholar to swashbuckling, globetrotting, and, according to some, irresponsible rainmaker/entrepreneur. But as the stately de Montebello began to lobby on his successor’s behalf, the logic of the choice came into focus: Campbell was a vote for continuity, in favor of de Montebello’s steady stewardship and against the Krens CEO model. Meanwhile, the Krens resignation marked the end of a drawn-out power struggle between grandiose ambition and the limits of the possible — a battle whose many casualties have included former board chairman Peter B. Lewis, former Guggenheim Museum director Lisa Dennison, and numerous half-baked projects across the globe. With the appointment as Krens’s successor of Richard Armstrong, a former curator in the Campbell model, the Guggenheim seemed to indicate that it would be moving in a more subdued direction. And yet Krens soldiers on — in pursuit of his most quixotic project to date: a sprawling arts complex on a remote desert island.

5. U.K. Tries to Keep Its Titians (Or, What’s Good for Main Street)While Hirst racked up more than £111 million in a couple of days this fall, the English and Scottish national museums, have spent months trying to raise the £50 million it would take to keep a prized Titian painting, Diana and Actaeon, from going on the open market. If they succeed, the work’s longtime owner, the Duke of Sutherland, who decided this summer to take advantage of the booming market, will throw in the chance to raise £50 million all over again, for the sister work Diana and Callisto. Which is actually a deal: The pair are estimated to be worth more than £300 million together. Dozens of British artists have spoken out in support of the government effort, including Lucian Freud, whose own work sells for almost that kind of money, and Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall even stripped in support of the campaign, but at last check the Brits were still scrambling (although the original December 31 deadline has now been pushed to January). The story recalls Austria’s similar struggle, in 2006, to keep Gustav Klimt’s 1907 masterpiece Adele Bloch-Bauer I. The country was not successful, and the work is now in the private collection of American cosmetics magnate Ronald Lauder, who paid the then market rate of $135 million.
And an honorable mention goes to... It's Not Easy Being GreenAny story involving an Italian politician on a hunger strike, a sculpture of a crucified frog, and the Pope deserves at least an honorable mention. When Italian official Franz Pahl launched a hunger strike in July over a piece by Martin Kippenberger, Zuerst die Füße (Feet First) (1990), which depicts a crucified frog holding a mug of beer in one hand and an egg in the other, he took indignation over a controversial artwork to a new level. Though it’s hard to see what all the fuss was really about — the artist said the piece depicts his internal struggle at the time that he made it, and it is, after all, just a frog — the story ended in hospitalization for Pahl, an erroneously reported intervention by the Pope, and the eventual firing of Corinne Diserens from her post as director of the state-funded Museion Museum of Contemporary Art, where the work was displayed. Local officials promised that Diserens’s dismissal was merely the result of “the difficult financial situation” and had nothing to do with her refusal to take down the foggy-eyed amphibian, but her supporters are not entirely convinced.David Grosz, Jillian Steinhauer, and Kris Wilton contributed to this article.

To learn more:

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ron Arad at the Pompidou Centre in Paris

For the first time in France, the Centre Pompidou dedicates a retrospective exhibition to the British industrial designer and architect Ron Arad. Today his works are everywhere, so it was a natural decision by the Centre Pompidou which has been a pioneering space for the presentation of the most outstanding contemporary designers, with exhibitions dedicated to Ettore Sottsass, Philippe Starck, Charlotte Perriand in the past, to have this exhibition.

Born in Tel Aviv and trained at the Jerusalem Academy of Art, followed by the Architectural Association School in London, Ron Arad settled in London in 1973, where he has since produced a very varied range of creative objects based on sinusoidal, elliptical and oval forms, as unique pieces, limited series and mass-produced objects.

The name of Ron Arad immediately conjures up pieces such as the Bookworm bookcase (1993) and the Tom Vac chair (1997), but his surprising work goes beyond any easy classification and expresses a free creative spirit working without constrictions or frontiers in design, architecture and the plastic arts. Ron Arad defines himself as belonging to "No discipline".The retrospective of his work proposed by the Centre Pompidou presents major and emblematic works, prototypes accompanied by audiovisual documents, limited series and mass-produced objects, along with numerous architectural projects.

Hedi Slimane's collaboration with Prada

When Hedi Slimane quit from Dior Homme, he kept expressing his huge artistic talent through photography. The former artistic Director of Dior Homme will work with Prada this time and has shot Prada Homme's Spring/ Summer 2009's ad campaign.

Louis and Claude, sons of Paul Simonon, bassist of The Clash are his new models for this campaign. Hedi Slimane respects his black and white's style in these shots that we should see everywhere quickly.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christie's glamourous' sale of photographs in NY

Marilyn Monroe by Richard Avedon in 1957 in New York. ©D.R

On 16 and 17 December, Christie's NY will sell glamourous photographs from The Constantiner Collection. This collection gathered by Leon and Michaela Constantiner is beautiful. Avedon, Newton, Penn, Warhol, Lindbergh's photographs of fashion icons and sex symbols of Kate Moss, Stéphanie Seymour, Monica Belluci or Madonna, next to Marilyn Monroe and James Dean will be offered to the buyers.
The sale is estimated to reach between 7,5 -11 million dollars. Among these 320 lots, there 5 great themes. Helmut Newton's oeuvre is showcased through fashions photographs, Playboy's archive's cliches, « Sex & Landscapes » 2002's exhibitions polaroïds shots.
The second big theme is "A Golden Era of Elegance", with illustrations from the 30's to today with Irving Penn or Richard Avedon's pictures with the famour Stéphanie Seymour's shot, estimated to reach between 85 000 and 128 000 €.
Third main section of the colelction: Hollywood, which emphasizes cinema icons such as James Dean, Ava Gardner, Faye Dunaway, Marlene Dietrich, Raquel Welch or Charlotte Rampling. Marilyn Monroe, absolut icon, will be the star of this sale with photographs by Andy Warhol and Richard Avedon.
New York City will highly be in that sale as well with photographs of the big Apple by Karl Struss or Hiroshi Sugimoto.

We'll all be looking forward to getting the results of it !

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mexico City Gets New Contemporary Art Museum

MEXICO CITY—A new contemporary art museum, the Museo Universitario de Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC), has opened in Mexico City, the Art Newspaper reports. The museum joins a cultural center, several other museums, and a national library as part of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
The 270 million peso ($20 million) contemporary art museum, which boasts 3,300 square meters of gallery space, was designed by leading Mexican architect Teodoro González de León. It will house international exhibitions and installations, and chief curator Guillermo Santamarina hopes it will become the home to Mexico's largest public collection of contemporary art.

Graciela de La Torre, the former director of the Museo Nacional de Arte of Mexico, will head the new museum. She raised 90 million pesos to fund MUAC's opening exhibitions, which include Cantos Civico, a sprawling installation by Miguel Ventura that includes walls carpeted with swastikas and dollar signs. MUAC will have only rotating exhibitions, to be drawn from its permanent collection as well as loans from other institutions. The museum's annual budget is not yet confirmed.

To learn more:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Unlimited Chanel

Chanel has launched a new collection of accessories. Entitled Unlimited, this chic new range of bags shows "Paris, 31, Coco, Chanel...."'s prints inside and outside, which I find really classy.

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John Cale to Represent Wales at the Venice Biennale

"Although John Cale is best known as a founder of the band the Velvet Underground, it was announced last week that he will represent the Welsh Pavilion at the contemporary art Venice Biennale. Born in Wales, Cale studied music at Goldsmiths College in London before traveling to New York, where he created the Velvet Underground with Lou Reed. He also collaborated with musicians such as Patti Smith, The Stooges, and Happy Mondays, as well as having a solo career.

Cale's work at the biennale will be a collaboration with artists, filmmakers, and poets, with the main focus of the piece on his relationship with the Welsh language. Cale said he was "surprised and honored" to be chosen to represent Wales. He added, "It offers an occasion to address certain pernicious issues in my background that had lain dormant for so long. There are certain experiences uniquely suited to the exorcism of mixed media, and I am grateful for this opportunity to address them."Alun Ffred Jones, heritage minister in the Welsh assembly, said, "John Cale is a bard in the widest sense — an artistic craftsman whose work is firmly rooted in Wales's cultural history."

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Have we judged Victoria Beckham too fast ?

Have we made a mistake judging Victoria Beckham an annoying and tasteless mother ? Given the tone and aesthetics of the new video of her collection, we can wonder.

After the critical acclaim that her collection received during the New York's Autumn Fashion Show, Victoria Beckham put her collection of dresses on sale on December 4 2008 in Selfridges, the exclusive department store of London (and other selected shops in the world such as Harrod's in London, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Gooman in New York).

The video relates a lot to the ads she did with Marc Jacobs (a bag on the model's head), but the quality of it and the funny background make it interesting enough... We'll see who will want to wear the dresses though.

Sophia Kokosalaki: 10 years anniversary

Sophia Kokosalaki celebrates her 10 years' anniversary"career". For this special occasion, the fashion designer has picked up 10 Summer creations and 10 Winter pieces that she did in the past.

Since 1999, Sophia Kokosalaki has become the master of the little black dress and her works on materials such as leather for instance, made her one of the most respected fashion designers. She's Greek but went to Central St Martins' School in London. We all remember Björk's Medulla album's cover and her performance at the opening ceremony of the Olympics' Games in Athens.

So happy birthday Sophia !

GSK Contemporary at the Royal Academy in London - Interview of Malcolm McLaren on William Burroughs

From The Times
December 15, 2008

Malcolm McLaren on William Burroughs
The author of Naked Lunch - artist, film-maker, writer, junkie and provocateur - has long been a hero to me

William Burroughs, who died in 1997, was the visionary author of Naked Lunch and a key member of the Beat Generation. Famed as a social critic, film-maker, artist and essayist as well as a novelist, his ideas are celebrated at the Royal Academy in a new exhibition, Burroughs Live. It includes footage of him reading his own works to camera, his paintings, works made in collaboration with other artists and portraits of him by Robert Mapplethorpe, Annie Leibovitz, David Hockney and Damien Hirst. Malcolm McLaren, whose new Burroughs-inspired film Shallow is part of the exhibition, has felt the profound influence of Burroughs all his life.

William Burroughs was iconic as a pop-cultural figure. He was an intellectual, a thinker. He stood for ideas and attitudes, for protest, and truthfully I can say that I have felt a connection with him in a big way all my life. I've lived with this man in my heart and I don't think I could have become the “godfather of punk” without him. He represented something very deep. Even as a teenager, I knew his book Naked Lunch. He was someone who connected all the dots in the disparate muddled world of a teenager.

The name William Burroughs was really imprinted on my consciousness when I went to art school in the latter half of the 1960s. I was at Goldsmiths College, and his name was very much current in the protest movement with which we grew up. He was a part of the zeitgeist because he represented a kind of outlaw spirit. He was a very good protester, and an intriguing one. He didn't produce a lot of products - he didn't write a large number of books, he made some films and sound works, paintings and experimental art - but his influence was more that of an attitude. He was always provocative, and his transformative ideas constantly appeared in your frame of reference if you were an art student at that time.

That is why I think this exhibition is so good, because it is not so much about finished products, about spin paintings or pill boxes; it's more about transformative ideas and debate. There is a brilliant film by Gus Van Sant of Burroughs reading his Thanksgiving Prayer, and it's such a powerful indictment of middle-class values in America. It's so relevant to today, and so potent because it shows how the world has shifted towards Burroughs's ideas.

Burroughs became part of the radical movements that proliferated in the late Sixties in Europe. He was a member of the Situationist International, a group of leftist artists and intellectuals. They were agitators who developed artistic and political avant-garde ideas but were also concerned with the anti-commodification of the planet. Burroughs's work was rooted in literature, but he crossed all spheres, and he was one of the warriors fighting with his mind against this juggernaut that he saw coming at us, representing the commodification of culture. It was the first radical movement to see that the planet could not be sustained with the kind of consumer society that was already growing at that time. It took the rest of us 40 years to see it, but they were banging on about it back in the 1960s. The point was to stand against it and he gave support and passion to that kind of thinking.

I remember 1968 so well. Burroughs was one of the most creative of the subversives and we drank up his ideas. It's funny that I was so involved with Burroughs at this time, whereas Vivienne [Westwood] was at that time still a prim young girl from a Derbyshire village who was attending Sunday school every week and was completely unaware of all this. She was leading a blameless life, while I was getting involved as much as I could in what protest movements there were.

There used to be a little bookshop in Camden called Compendium Books and we'd go there and find the pamphlets and manifestos and dialogues of the Situationists. They were the creative spark that led to the 1968 crisis that spilt over to London. And we as art students gave our response and support.

In those days there were no mobile phones or iPods, none of those sorts of signs and signals for showing who you were, and you used to proclaim your allegiance by having a copy of Naked Lunch or of Thomas de Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater just sticking out of your pocket. De Quincey was, I think, the 19th-century equivalent of Burroughs, a cultural outlaw who took a lot of drugs and had a mind churning with radical ideas.

The first time I was completely seduced by Burroughs was when I was living in Paris in the 1990s and I heard a tape recording of him reading from Naked Lunch. The book was published in 1958 in Paris because American and British publishers wouldn't touch it. Publishing was more liberal in Paris and he had found an imprint called Olympia Press, run by Maurice Girodias who had also published Lolita and the works of Alexander Trocchi. Burroughs did the reading in a little Paris bookshop. He was a brilliant performer of his own work. His voice was incredibly hypnotic and I remember being particularly struck by a passage called Bradley the Buyer, all about Mexico and narcotics agents. The way he salivates as he reads it is completely gripping.

I never met him, sadly, although I almost did. It was in the 1980s when I was working for Stephen Spielberg in Hollywood. I was dating Lauren Hutton at the time and, through her artist friends and New York friends, she knew Burroughs. There was a plan for me to meet him, and I think he was curious to meet me too. Unfortunately, Hollywood being Hollywood, my work prevented that from happening and I never got another chance.

Burroughs grew up in the Midwest, which was a place where guns were completely normal. It was part of the old frontier idea of protection. Everyone in that part of the world knew how to use a gun, and when he accidentally shot his wife [Joan Vollmer, while playing a game of William Tell] it must have affected him very deeply. It must have affected his whole life and work. It was probably due to his having been out of his head at the time, which was not unusual. His drugtaking was part of some kind of deal with the Devil.

His influence has been profound for artists, writers, musicians and many others. His cut-up technique was particularly influential. This involved cutting up and randomly rearranging words or phrases into new sentences in his books. He employed the same methods with the images and sound bites in his films. David Bowie used Burroughs's methods for the lyrics of his songs. Bowie used to write out his lyrics and then cut up each word individually. He would throw the whole lot up into the air, and then string them together again according to the way they had landed on the floor. Procol Harum did the same with A Whiter Shade of Pale. The lyrics of that song are pretty bizarre, and this is why.

I used his cut-up technique for my film Shallow, Musical Paintings, 1-21, which is showing in this exhibition. It's a personal and subjective history of pop culture. I've grabbed and snatched at verses and a chorus here and there through the decades, and then put them together randomly. The music was done first. I then found those old films made on 8mm of the ordinary folk who played a part in the sex films before sex cinema was turned into an industry. The film clips are from the days when you had preambles before the act, when there was still a naivity and an innocence to them. These are ordinary people, guys struggling to get their ties off and then strutting around like peacocks waiting to perform their act, or hoovering the carpet waiting for a knock on the door. I slowed down the films and I think there are some revealing moments, like portraits, of these ordinary people.

I think all great artists are separated from ordinary artists by one thing. They are magicians. They are people who really change the culture. They have an alchemy that few of us possess and Burroughs was one of these.

As told to Joanna Pitman
Malcolm McLaren's film Shallow will be shown as part of the GSK Contemporary series at the Royal Academy, London W1 (dates and times at www.royalacademy., until Jan 19. Life-File: The Private File-Folders of William S Burroughs is at Riflemaker, W1 (, from tomorrow to Jan 17.
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