Herbert Vogel, Fabled Art Collector, Dies at 89


New York City teems with questionable urban legends. But the fable about the postal clerk and his wife, a Brooklyn librarian, scrimping to amass an astounding collection of modern art, cramming all 5,000 pieces in a rent-controlled one-bedroom apartment, then donating the whole kit and caboodle to the National Gallery of Art in Washington and galleries in all 50 states, is true.

Herbert Vogel, who retired as a postal clerk in 1980 but kept collecting art, died on Sunday at 89 at a nursing home in Manhattan, the National Gallery announced. When he and his wife, Dorothy, gave thousands of artworks to the museum in 1992, J. Carter Brown, then the museum's director, called their collection "a work of art in itself."

So too were the lives of the couple colloquially called Dorothy and Herbert (the order on which Mr. Vogel insisted). Shortly after their wedding in 1962, they bought their first piece of art, a small crushed-metal sculpture by John Chamberlain. Realizing that their own efforts at making art were not up to the standards of Mr. Chamberlain and other artists they admired, they began buying others' works. Starting slowly, they bought what they liked — within the strictures of two civil-service incomes — with the only criterion that they be able to carry it home.

Fitting it in their small apartment on the Upper East Side was no problem, as long as they didn't mind devoting their closets to art, getting rid of their sofa and other furniture, and perpetually tripping over paintings. Mrs. Vogel told journalists that she did not — repeat, did not — keep art in her oven. "We didn't set out to live bizarrely," she said in an interview with The New York Times in 1992.

Wandering around the mountains of art were eight cats with names like Manet, Renoir and Corot. Twenty exotic turtles completed the scene.

But the art was what came to matter most, and the Vogel collection grew into a guidepost for an often austere school of art that followed Abstract Expressionism's long reign: Minimal Art, which often examined monochromatic surfaces and essential forms. It was nowhere near as popular as Pop Art, which drew its colorful imagery from consumer products and arose around the same time.

There was also a buyers' market for conceptual art, in which the image is an idea. An example in the Vogel collection was a few inches of frayed rope with a nail through it; another was a black cardboard square with the definition of the word "nothing" printed on it in white.

Their style was to make friends with the young, often little-known artists who were making the new art. Thus they bypassed galleries, a practice some in the art world later criticized as cheating the system. They bought on credit and were slow to pay. They had no car, took no vacations and ate TV dinners; a night out was a trip to the nearby Chinese restaurant. They sometimes did cat-sitting in exchange for art.

Artists liked to be taken seriously by patrons eager to understand novel directions in art, and they particularly appreciated the Vogels' pattern of buying artists' works over a period of years to capture evolving careers. "You knew when you were selling them something it was becoming part of an important collection," Chuck Close, who helped develop the painting style called photorealism, said in an interview with Newsday in 1992.

Christo, whom the Vogels collected before he became famous for monumental works of environmental art, told The Miami Herald in 1989, "They passionately collect some artists, and they collect them from the beginning, before gallery or critical interest."

Among the artists the Vogels collected were Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, Richard Tuttle and Donald Judd. In more recent years they collected works by Andy Goldsworthy, James Siena and Pat Steir, among others.

Earl A. Powell III, the current director of the National Gallery, said in a statement: "The radical expansion of intellectual and stylistic expressions in many media by European and American artists since the 1960s is reflected in the diversity of the works that Herb and Dorothy collected over five decades."

Herbert Vogel was born in Manhattan on Aug. 16, 1922, dropped out of school and worked in garment-industry sweatshops. But he told Smithsonian magazine in 1992, "I knew there was another world out there, and somehow I'd find it for myself."

After a stint in the Army, he encountered paintings by the old masters at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That led him to contemporary art, and contemporary art led him to the Cedar Bar, the fabled artists' hangout in Greenwich Village. There he listened in awe to Mark Rothko, Franz Kline and David Smith.

"I was nothing — a postal clerk," he told The Times. "But I respected the artists, and they sort of respected me. They would talk until 3, 4 in the morning, and I would be one of the people who just listened. I just remember it very vividly. I never even asked a question."

In 1960 he met Dorothy Faye Hoffman at a resort in the Poconos. On their first date, art did not come up. On subsequent dates, as they went to the movies and watched the presidential election returns together (Senator John F. Kennedy won), they fell in love. After their honeymoon in Washington, where they visited the National Gallery, they both took classes in painting. They soon realized they would rather hang other artists' work on their walls.

"I wasn't bad," Mrs. Vogel told Newsday. "I didn't like Herbie's paintings, actually."

In 1992 five full-size moving vans were needed to move their art to the National Gallery, where they were soon feted by William H. Rehnquist, the chief justice of the United States, and David Rockefeller. In 2008 the gallery announced that it would help them carry out their plan to give 50 artworks to a museum in each of the 50 states. The couple liked to work with the gallery because it has never sold a painting, and admission is free.

In 2008 Megumi Sasaki directed a documentary about the Vogels, "Herb & Dorothy." Ms. Sasaki had her camera operators focus on how Mr. Vogel's eyes intensified and lit up when he liked something. In addition to his wife, Mr. Vogel is survived by his sister, Paula Antebi. In 1992 Mr. Vogel, whose highest salary at the post office was $23,000 before taxes, told The Associated Press that he and his wife could easily have become millionaires. "But we weren't concerned about that aspect," he said.

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth Celebrates 10 Years in Tadao Ando-designed Building with New Acquisitions

December 2012 is the 10th anniversary of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth's building designed by Tadao Ando. The Modern will mark the anniversary with a series of new acquisitions on view this fall, culminating in a celebration gala and dinner on December 6, 2012.

Director Marla Price comments, "These are exciting additions to the Modern's permanent collection. We are acquiring work by important new artists in several cases and increasing our holdings of works by Vernon Fisher, Dan Flavin, Howard Hodgkin, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, and Nicholas Nixon."

Among the acquisitions is a rare early wall drawing by Sol LeWitt (1928-2007), one of the pioneers of conceptual and minimal art. This is the third work by LeWitt to become part of the permanent collection. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, LeWitt began drawing lines directly on the walls of buildings, an action that radically transformed the role and definition of drawing in contemporary art. These drawings now exist as a set of signed instructions written by the artist, which are then executed by museum or gallery technicians. Wall Drawing #50A, 1970, consists of hundreds of hand-drawn lines in colored pencil (red, yellow, and blue) stretching across a large wall, overlapping each other, and measuring approximately 11-by-16 feet. From a distance the accumulation of these lines creates a large, foggy plane of color, but a closer look reveals a delicate web of intricately rendered lines.

Another important addition to the Museum's significant holdings in minimal art is a Dan Flavin (1933-1996) light sculpture, Untitled (for you Leo, in long respect and affection) 4, 1978, recently purchased at auction from the late Los Angeles collector Max Palevsky (1924-2010). Made of yellow and blue fluorescent light fixtures, the work is installed across the corner of a wall. This work was dedicated by Flavin to Leo Castelli, the famous contemporary art dealer from New York. The work is a classic example of Flavin's talent for blending different colored lights to create a continually active and vibrant space. The blue and yellow tubes of light create various shades of green that emanate from the corner of the room. The Museum's permanent collection also includes Flavin's Diagonal of May 25, 1963, a white fluorescent light acquired in 2002.

A monumental painting by artist Mark Bradford (b. 1961), Los Angeles, will also be unveiled as part of the celebration, the first in the Modern's collection. Crafting semi-abstract paintings from fragments of the urban environment-billboard paper, posters, newsprint, and street debris-Bradford's works are layered with multiple materials and meanings. An African American who grew up in south-central Los Angeles, the artist's richly textured collages merge his fascination of the personal space of painting with the sprawling, continually changing street facades of the city and the particular political and racial tensions that still exist there.

The Modern's newly acquired painting is titled Kingdom Day, 2010, and is one of Bradford's most ambitious works to date, consisting of four 10-by-10-foot canvases. An homage to the Kingdom Day Parade in Los Angeles, which takes place every January on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the work specifically refers to the 1992 parade, the same year four policemen were tried and acquitted for beating Rodney King, inciting riots throughout Los Angeles. The painting, which on first take appears almost abstract, presents an ambiguous and turbulent image. Various colored banners and words are obscured by a field of gestures that resemble sparks from an explosion. At the same time, the painting suggests a topographical read: a satellite view of the Southern California coast covered by violent atmospheric static.

Other new works to be debuted between September and December include a monumental charcoal drawing by artist Robyn O'Neil (b. 1977), Los Angeles, entitled These Final Hours Embrace At Last; This Is Our Ending, This Is Our Past, 2007. This nearly 14-foot-wide drawing depicts a vast ocean with a small figure that hangs over it by a thread. O'Neil's spacious drawing will be contrasted with a small but potent recent painting entitled Ice, 2008-10, by Howard Hodgkin (b. 1932), which consists of an intensely blended bluish-white brushstroke advancing out of a reddish ground. O'Neil's drawing is the first of her work to enter the permanent collection, and Hodgkin's work is the third painting to be acquired for the Modern.

A new video and sound installation by Bruce Nauman (b. 1941) will also be unveiled during this anniversary celebration. The work, Studio Mix, 2010, is inspired by a set of finger exercises that the composer Béla Bartók wrote for children learning the piano. A video image of Nauman's hands enacting the possible combinations of the four fingers and thumb is suspended in a dark gallery accompanied by three sound elements: Nauman's voice calling out the instructions for the different finger and thumb combinations; a piano played by artist Terry Allen and recorded in response to Nauman's instructions; and Nauman intermittently speaking the words "for children, for children." The Museum's permanent collection also includes, Nauman's Setting a Good Corner (Allegory & Metaphor), 2000, acquired in 2001.

In December, the 10th anniversary month of the opening of the new building, the Museum will present a significant, new installation by Jenny Holzer (b. 1950), her first to be acquired by the Museum. This special commission (title to be announced, 2012) will be unveiled at the gala on December 6. The artist's signature, kinesthetic light-emitting diode (LED) signs, will deliver Holzer's controversial texts in "Ando blue," including many of her famous truisms: MONEY CREATES TASTE; YOUR OLDEST FEARS ARE YOUR WORST ONES; SLIPPING INTO MADNESS IS GOOD FOR COMPARISON; MOTHERS SHOULDN'T MAKE TOO MANY SACRIFICES; LACK OF CHARISMA CAN BE FATAL.

Holzer's glowing language will travel down long channels that extend from one end of a central, large clerestory gallery to a glass wall at the edge of the pond, creating rivers of text that give the illusion of penetrating the water. This major work, among other surprises, will give the collection a new look for the next decade.


On view beginning September 9:
On loan to the Modern as part of the 10th anniversary celebration, this colossal work-measuring 16 feet in height-depicts one of KAWS's (b. 1974) iconic characters in three-dimensional form and will be installed at the entrance of the Museum. COMPANION (PASSING THROUGH) has traveled internationally over the past two years at such acclaimed venues as the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; the Standard Hotel, New York, New York; the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Aldrich, Connecticut; and Harbour City, Hong Kong.

On view by October 21:
Sol LeWitt, Wall Drawing #50A, 1970
Dan Flavin, Untitled (for you Leo, in long respect and affection) 4, 1978
Nicholas Nixon (b. 1947), The Brown Sisters, Truro, Massachusetts, 2011 is the newest addition in Nixon's ongoing series of photographs, The Brown Sisters, initially acquired by the Modern in 2005.
Mark Bradford, Kingdom Day, 2010
Robyn O'Neil, These Final Hours Embrace At Last; This Is Our Ending, This Is Our Past, 2007
Howard Hodgkin, Ice, 2008-10

On view by November 16:
Vernon Fisher (b. 1943), The Coriolis Effect, 1987. A gift from the artist, this work was previously on view in the special exhibition, Vernon Fisher: K-Mart Conceptualism.
Bruce Nauman, Studio Mix, 2010

Unveiled during gala on December 6. On view to the public December 7.
Jenny Holzer, title to be announced, 2012


10th Anniversary Gala and Dinner
Thursday, December 6
(ticket prices to be announced)

Tuesday Evening Lecture Series
Tuesdays, 7 p.m.

September 11-David Dawson, artist and longtime assistant and friend of Lucian Freud
September 18-Nicholas Nixon, artist
September 25-Rosson Crow, artist
October 2-KAWS, artist
October 9-Martin Gayford, art critic, writer, and subject of the painting Man with a Blue Scarf by Lucian Freud
October 16-Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, founder and principal of Marlon Blackwell Architect
October 23-Michael Auping, chief curator, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
October 30-Gary Simmons, artist
November 13-Bruce Nauman, artist
November 27-Howard Rachofsky, art collector
December 4-Jenny Holzer, artist

Danes fund contemporary art project

HA NOI — Ten projects of contemporary art and cultural performances will get financial support from the Danish Vietnamese Cultural Development and Exchange Fund (CDEF).

Established in 2006, CDEF has recently approved the projects with a total funding of US$61,000 with a view to promoting Vietnamese artists as well as cultural exchange activities between Denmark and Viet Nam.

Three projects by artists including Phan Y Ly, Truong Que Chi, Ngo Thanh Phuong, Nguyen Trinh Thi and Ea Sola make up more than a half of total budget.

Ly's project entitled Visually Devised Theatre will be granted US$5,200 exploring the power struggle between men and women. It is a theatre performance that brings together theatre and visual arts to explore the theme of feminism.

Another theatre performance by Chi is a dream about a blind bird. Chi will get $3,600 for the solo performance. Through personal stories about experiences or unreal space of thought, the performance questions the relationship between women and the surrounding world.

A Singular Voice – the Contemporary Journey of Ea Sola in Viet Nam 1991 – 2012 is a presentation contributing to the appreciation of artistic innovation and the critical examination of contemporary and traditional dance and music in Viet Nam.

It presents two major contemporary music and dance works, Drought and Rain and The White Body. The project will get $15,000 along with other activities including seminars and discussions on the development of contemporary dance and music in Viet Nam.

Erasable by Phuong is an experimental art programme that combines contemporary dance, music, visual arts and audience interaction. The performance will involve the participation of the audience, helping them to gain a better understanding and a friendlier view towards contemporary art. Phuong will be granted $7,100.

Indie-documentary maker Thi's The Artist is a video installation and film project combining performance art, video art and cinema. Thematically, Thi is to continue with her deep interests in the history and development of the artists' role and position in Vietnamese society. The video will be funded about $5,000.

Others getting profit from the fund include Yxine Film Festival ($5,000), Ha Noi Grapevine - a group promoting contemporary art ($5,000), Ha Noi Recitals music project between Vietnamese and Danish composers ($8,600), the Crescendo Voice Echoes - a public art project ($3,000) and Cinema Bookshelf ($3,600). — VNS

Portland Institute for Contemporary Art announces partial lineup for TBA Festival

By Marty Hughley, The Oregonian

From what we can tell so far, the 2012 Time-Based Art Festival will be kind of like a wildly creative jelly.

"The projects in this year's Festival are firmly interdisciplinary, often moving between theater, video, movement, and music in a single piece," new artistic director Angela Mattox says in a press release announcing more than a dozen projects and performances scheduled for the tenth annual festival, Sept. 6-16. "It is a reflection of current artist practices and of our own desire to have audiences move fluidly between these experiences."

So the experience will be both firm and fluid. And, really, a jelly doesn't quite manage that trick, but a good contemporary-art festival just might.

Presented by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, TBA has been a popular late-summer event locally and also has helped put the city on the map internationally in terms of forward-thinking arts and culture. The upcoming schedule includes works from Japan, Africa, Eastern Europe, as well as from around the United States. The New York Times recently proclaimed TBA "the best contemporary summer festival in the country."

At first glance, a handful of events stand out:

Big Art Group, "The People – Portland" – described as "an outdoor spectacle of theater and large-scale video projection," this blend of live and recorded elements includes interviews with various Portlanders about such themes as justice and community.

Sam Green and Yo La Tengo, "The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller" – Last year, the pop duo Dean & Britta performed a tribute of sorts to Andy Warhol's social and artistic milieu at the Factory. This time it's another seminal indie-pop act, Yo La Tengo, addressing another design-minded pioneer in Fuller. The band's score will be performed live to a Green's documentary film.

Gob Squad, "Gob Squad's Kitchen – You've Never Had it so Good" – Speaking of Warhol, here's another look at his legacy, through a mix of experimental film and live action.

Keith Hennessy, "Turbulence (a Dance About the Economy)" – Hennessy, a noted Bay Area choreographer, and an international cast of guest artists will improvise and collaborate, attempting to work out a few kinks in the financial crisis and its aftermath.

Laurie Anderson, "Dirtday!" – Arguably the single greatest popularizer of contemporary performance art, Anderson last played Portland in the 2006 TBA festival. Her always welcome return will be a solo storytelling excursion that touches on "the the politics of the Occupy movement, theories of evolution, families, history, and animals." But with her intriguing blend of songs, sonics and thematic cross-hatching, it's bound to create greater resonances than a simple list of subjects can convey.

– Marty Hughley

Art Becomes an Agent of Disruption in Ukraine

Never on the map of the contemporary art world, Ukraine is experiencing an unusually high level of activity in this realm with a new solo exhibition by British sculptor Anish Kapoor, the first international Bienalle of Contemporary Arts in Kiev and the emergence of the Future Generation Art Prize.

This trend was started by the Pinchuk Art Center and is developing into something much larger than just an exhibition by contemporary art masters for a small creative community. The Ukrainian public, as well as Ukrainian artists – still fresh and curious – are delving deeper and deeper into the world of the conceptual and abstract. More galleries and art auctions are opening in various cities within the country; contemporary art has become a very popular subject for Ukrainian media and artists are experimenting with social and public art more then ever.

Arts and creativity are known to influence minds and society, explained Richard Armstrong, the Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. This concept, for instance, was behind the creation of the Guggenheim Museum in the 1930th, he said. In the entire post-Soviet territory, access to anything modern and contemporary was forbidden for many decades. Contemporary art, for many not the easiest aspect of culture to understand – and also one of the most expensive — only recently made its way into Ukraine and was met with great enthusiasm.

The Pinchuk Art Center, the pioneer center in that region, continues to bring the most interesting artists to Kiev. Here is the video from Anish Kapoor's opening that took place last week in Keiv's historic Bessarabka district.

Kapoor, the Mumbai-born British sculptor, has brought a selection of about thirty works to Kiev. According to Armstrong, the Pinchuk Art Center's strategy is not typical for post-Soviet territory. "In the place like that the idea would be to make a very broad subject," he said. But the Center explores an artist in depth through a comprehensive exhibition.

In addition to showing Demian Hurst, Olafur Eliason, Takashi Murakami, Andreas Gursky, the Center always has room for Ukrainian artists like Boris Mikhailov and Pavel Makov.

When Pinchuk Art Center was first founded by a Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk and his foundation, there was plenty of skepticism:

"Even I had some doubts", Pinchuk admitted in an interview during Kapoor's opening. "Who knows, people would think he's a little bit crazy, contemporary art…"

But the experiment has proved to be a success. The center allows thousands of visitors, most of whom have grown up without seeing the original works of Pollock and Warhol, an opportunity to see something new, and little by little extends the boundaries of their perception of beauty and art.

The cultural experiment has grown to such an extent that even Ukraine's Ministry of Culture decided to catch up with the rest of the world and organized the First Kiev International Biennale called "Arsenale". The event is hosted in Art Arsenal, another center in Ukraine focusing on modern art, with the mission of conceptualizing the country's culture and present its historical and artistic heritage in a global context. The Biennale started on May 24th and will continue through July 31st. Works by more than 100 artists will be presented in Kiev, including Ai Wei Wei, Louise Bourgeouis and Jake and Dinos Chapman. Has anyone ever seen anything by Ai Wei Wei in Kiev before?

Another subject that brings attention to Ukraine among artists is the international Future Generation Art prize for artists under the age of 35. The $100,000 prize was established by Pinchuk's foundation in 2010 to support young artists. It is given to one international winner, and to one Ukrainian winner. Brazilian artist Cinthia Marcelle won the first edition of the prize. Artem Volokitin, the local winner, accepted an apprenticeship at the studio of British sculptor Antony Gormley as part of his award.

It's interesting and exciting that internationally acclaimed artists are showing their work in Ukraine. "What was important for me, is to show my art there and share it with people of my own generation and younger," said Olafur Eliasson, a Danish-Icelandic artist known for his large-scale installations, who had a solo exhibition in the country. "Art is the voice that is contributing into Ukrainian society."

Let's not forget that the Soviets were afraid of Western culture. Who knows, maybe disco had a hand in all of that social change and perestroika? If Ukrainian politics and economics can't speed up the process of creating a more progressive and innovative mindset, maybe Art will.

Hong Kong Auctions Showed Strength for Wine and Contemporary Art, Defying Fears of a Stagnating China

by Madeleine O'Dea, ARTINFO China
Published: May 28, 2012

HONG KONG — The second round of Hong Kong's spring auctions opened strongly over the weekend, dispelling fears that the economic slowdown in China and global financial jitters would blight the season.

The weekend began in the best way possible for Christie's Hong Kong with a 100 percent sold wine auction on Saturday. The success of this sale of top flight Bordeaux bucked a recent Asian market trend towards the wines of Burgundy, and took in excess of HK$20.29 million ($2.6 million). The top lot was a vertical set of four six-liter imperials of Petrus from the 2005-2008 vintages, which eclipsed their high estimate of HK$700,000 to sell for HK$780,000 ($100, 490.)

The continuing buoyant market for fine wine in Asia had earlier been demonstrated in grand style at specialist wine auctioneer Acker Merrall & Condit with a sale on May 25-26 that also focussed on Bordeaux. The top lot in their HK$70 million ($9 million) sale was a rare case of 1947 Cheval Blanc which sold for HK$1.48 million ($189,231). They also set 15 world records for Chateau Latour with a single-owner sale of prized vintages from 1905 to 1985, including a rare case of the 1945 vintage which secured HK$934,800 ($119,846), nearly three times the pre-sale high estimate.

When it came to fine arts, results were more mixed. While Christie's Saturday evening sale of Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art scored a significant success with 91 percent of the lots sold by volume and 96 percent by value, the day sale of Contemporary Asian Art was a more muted affair, with only 72 percent by volume and 79 percent by value sold. Total sales, which amounted to HK$629,478,750 (US$81,076,863) in this sector, were down 17 percent on last spring. Still, the result looked good against Christie's pre-sale estimate of around HK$400 million.

Notable among the top lots was "Hearth," a 1988 work by Chinese contemporary artist Shang Yang, which sold for five times its high estimate at HK$6.38 million ($821,744) during the day sale on Sunday. Also far exceeding expectations was a work by Chinese traditionalist Lin Fengmian (1900-1991) entitled "Opera Series: Beauty Defies Tyranny" (1950s), which sold for HK$11.64 million ($1.5), also five times its pre-sale estimate.

Before the auctions opened, speculation centered on how much Chinese mainland collector participation would be effected by the country's cooling economy and the recent crackdown by the Chinese customs department on the under-declaration of tariffs payable on art works imported into mainland China from Hong Kong and abroad. In the event, mainland bidders still made their presence felt at Christie's and also at Bonhams, whose contemporary art department held their first dedicated sale for their sector in Hong Kong on Sunday.

For this first foray, Bonhams played it safe with a fine single-owner sale of works by two of China's most renowned expatriate artists, Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh-Chun. Now in their 90s, both made their careers in Paris in the decades after the Second World War, but this sale largely focussed on works made in the 21st century. Zao Wou-Ki's "La Mer" (2004), sold for HK 8.18 million (more than $ 1 million), while Chu Teh-Chun's "Verte Nature, 2005-6" took HK$7.2 million ($927,416) and his "Formes Illuminees" (2006) sold for HK $5.3 million ($682,680). All these works went for prices substantially above their high estimates.

Overall Bonhams took some HK$313 million from their Hong Kong sales, which aside from contemporary art also featured wine, cognac, ceramics, snuff bottles, and Chinese painting. Their standout lot was a portrait of the Emperor Qianlong's consort Chunhui, attributed to Giuseppe Castiglione (1688-1766), which was knocked down to a Chinese mainland collector for HK$39.86 million ($5.135 million). There was fierce competition for the painting, which is thought to have been looted from the Forbidden City by French forces after the Boxer Rebellion in 1900.

Still to come this week are the results from Christie's auctions in the strongest sectors of the Asian market — Chinese traditional modern painting and ceramics and works of art. Christie's auctions conclude Wednesday.

Princess Cruises Art Connoisseur Voyages Showcase Top Contemporary Artists

Passengers Can Meet Artists Such as Michael Godard, Viktor Shvaiko and Bill Mack in Person

Santa Clarita, Calif. (PRWEB) May 25, 2012

Princess Cruises is showcasing some of today's top contemporary artists and lecturers in a series of special Art Connoisseur Cruises designed for both avid collectors and art newcomers.

A wide range of internationally acclaimed artists will join the ship during these cruises, including names such as bas relief sculptor Bill Mack, Russian American contemporary artist Viktor Shvaiko, and colorful French American painter Duaiv. The voyages offer a variety of events with the artists, such as meet-and-greet sessions, demonstrations, art classes, special art unveilings and interviews where passengers can ask questions. Some artists, including pop fusion painter Eric Waugh even entertain crowds with live painting sessions set to music.

Other famous names onboard will include "rock star of the art world" Michael Godard, painter Alexandre Renoir, great grandson of the famed French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Christine Argillet, daughter of Salvador Dali's publisher who will offer her personal stories and insight into of one of the 20th century's most unique artists.

Art Connoisseur Cruises are part of Princess' Fine Arts program, offering passengers the opportunity to see and learn about some of the most notable artwork produced throughout the past century. Each ship features works from collectable artists for sale that are the centerpieces of art auctions held during each cruise.

"These connoisseur cruises give art lovers the opportunity to learn more about the works and artists they admire, or discover new artists," said Jan Swartz, Princess Cruises executive vice president. "Plus, it's something our passengers might not be able to experience at home, so it's an interesting enrichment option during their vacation."

Princess' upcoming Art Connoisseur cruises include:

July 17
Ruby Princess - 12 days Grand Mediterranean
Fabian Perez, Chris DeRubeis, Patrick Guyton

July 20
Caribbean Princess - 12-day Iceland
Michael Godard, Bill Mack, Viktor Shvaiko, Adam Scott Rote

August 25
Caribbean Princess - 14-day Iceland, Greenland & British Isles Explorer
Bill Mack, Chris DeRubeis, Patrick Guyton, Duaiv, Nim Vaswani (art lecturer/historian on Picasso), Christine Argillet (art lecturer/historian on Salvador Dali)

October 26
Emerald Princess -12-day Canada & New England
Alexandre Renoir, Viktor Shvaiko, Eric Waugh, Michael Schwartz (art lecturer/historian on Picasso, Rembrandt, and Renoir)

Many of these artists also sail individually on select artist voyages throughout the year.

Additional information about Princess Cruises is available through a professional travel agent, by calling 1-800-PRINCESS (1-800-774-6237), or by visiting the company's website at www.princess.com.

About Princess Cruises:
One of the best-known names in cruising, Princess Cruises is a global cruise and tour company operating a fleet of 16 modern ships renowned for their innovative design and wide array of choices in dining, entertainment and amenities, all provided in an environment of exceptional customer service. A recognized leader in worldwide cruising, Princess carries 1.3 million passengers each year to destinations around the globe ranging in length from seven to 107 days. The company is part of Carnival Corporation & plc.

Princess Cruises is a proud member of World's Leading Cruise Lines. Our exclusive alliance also includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America, Cunard Line, Costa Cruises and Seabourn. Sharing a passion to please each guest and a commitment to quality and value, World's Leading Cruise Lines inspires people to discover their best vacation experience. Together, we offer a variety of exciting and enriching cruise vacations to the world's most desirable destinations. Visit us at www.worldsleadingcruiselines.com.


Contemporary art often controversial - gallery

May 25 2012 at 11:05am

In order for a contemporary art gallery to be successful it cannot have an overt political, religious or ideological agenda, the Goodman Gallery in Johannesburg said on Friday.

"I regret the divisiveness that the exhibition has caused, and reiterate that it is was never my intention to cause hurt to any person," gallery director Liza Essers said, referring to the controversy over Brett Murray's painting "The Spear".

"However, the nature of contemporary art is that works are often controversial."

The gallery was responding in a statement to an African National Congress application to have the painting, depicting president Jacob Zuma with his genitals exposed, taken down.

The matter was heard in the Johannesburg High Court on Thursday and was indefinitely postponed. Another date would be set and another full bench constituted.

"The Spear" generated national debate when it was shown at the gallery last week. The artwork formed part of Murray's exhibition "Hail to the Thief II".

The gallery closed its doors after the portrait was defaced by two people on Tuesday. Both were arrested. A third person was apprehended outside the premises after trying to spray paint the word "respect" on a wall. All three appeared in court and had their cases postponed.

"Protecting the integrity and the neutrality of the gallery space is paramount. The Goodman Gallery is a space where the rich and diverse voices of our country can be heard," said Essers.

Outside the court on Thursday afternoon ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe asked the crowd to march on the Goodman Gallery on Tuesday in protest.

"The march must be successful and it must send a clear message. African culture is not inferior. We must protect African-ness," Mantashe told the crowd.

He echoed SA Communist Party general secretary Blade Nzimande's call to boycott City Press newspaper, which published a picture of the painting on its website, and has thus far refused to take it down. - Sapa

Gunter Sachs art collection to be auctioned in UK

May 19, 2012|Associated Press Writer

A modern art collection, including works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Salvador Dali, will be sold next week in London, Sotheby's said Saturday.

The works were collected by German-born photographer Gunter Sachs, best known for his playboy lifestyle and brief marriage to French actress Brigitte Bardot. He committed suicide at the age of 78 in May 2011.

Sachs had collected hundreds of art works over his lifetime and was friends with many key artists of the 20th century, including Warhol, Dali and Georges Mathieu.

Global contemporary art converges in Argentina

By Ivonne Jeannot Laens

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA – Contemporary art from 98 galleries across Latin America, North America and Europe converged in Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital, for the annual arteBA exhibition this past weekend. From Friday until yesterday, the work of established and emerging artists enlivened the white walls of the exhibition and drew art aficionados, critics, collectors, curators, students and more across the smooth cement floor.

On that same floor a few nights earlier slept a group of young artists. They had traveled from Chile to display their work, not finishing until late.

"We arrived in Buenos Aires the day in which you had to begin to mount the work," says Sebastian Salfate, one of the group members. "That night, we slept here, sprawled on the floor."

The group is from an art space in Chile called Galería Daniel Morón. The artists devoted months to raising money to afford the trip to Buenos Aires to display their work at the fair

"It was a long journey," Salfate says. "We sold food. We threw parties. Since December of last year, we were raising money."
The work of Salfate and his fellow artists was displayed in a section called Barrio Joven Chandon. The section for new artists congregated the work of more than 85 Latin American artists from 17 galleries and art spaces.

Salfate says that the affluence of the public in Buenos Aires makes arteBA a prime opportunity for emerging artists to gain local and international recognition. The exposition also offers a platform for them to sell their work.

The work of Salfate's group deals with pop culture. For example, prevailing in the group's exhibit were objects reflecting the regional passion for football: pennants, cleats, balls and cups.

"We are a collective of four people that work with popular culture, with objects of easy access that anyone can use," he says. "The group tries to achieve an openness to art."

In the Barrio Joven section, the pieces can't value more than $3,000, Salfate says. But in the rest of the fair, the work can sell for much higher prices.

The much-anticipated arteBA exhibition, which wrapped up yesterday, amassed contemporary art from dozens of galleries spanning the globe. The annual fair offers a prized platform for established and emerging artists to share and to sell their work. Visitors say the vast number of works in one place draws them back several times during the five days of the event, with many voicing plans to buy art as well.

The arteBA Fundación organizes the annual contemporary art fair in order to offer a platform for artistic manifestations that reflect the current spirit, according to the institution's website. To participate, each gallery has to submit an application, which is evaluated by a committee headed by art critic Laura Batkis.

Nearby Salfate's group at the exhibition was the work of Lorena Bicciconti, 33, an Argentine artist from a collective called 36 veces. She traveled more than 600 kilometers to display her colorful work.

"I want to shake people," Bicciconti says, as visitors wander past her pieces. "Adults often forget color. That's why I use it in excess because I look for a shock."

The emerging artist says she sees arteBA as a possibility to make her work known because there are no exhibitions like this in Bahía Blanca, the city where she lives in the south of the province.

"What's important about arteBA is the visibility you achieve," she says. "Here, there is a lot of contact with people. Here, one begins to become known. It's a unique possibility."

Thrilling Week for Modern Art

Published: May 4, 2012

NEW YORK — The art market made a quantum leap this week when "The Scream," a pastel drawn by Edvard Munch in 1895, sold for just under $120 million — $119,922,500 to be precise.

Some will argue that the pastel is such an unusual work that it would be unwise to draw general inferences from it. In art historical terms, this is true, bearing in mind that the Norwegian artist produced four variants — the other three are in museums.

Nothing else truly relates to this work. "The Scream" was so far ahead of its time that it could be the work of a contemporary artist. Never mind that the idea of conveying the deep emotions experienced by an artist in a visionary composition owes something to the French Symbolist school of the 1890s, or that the strong oranges, reds, blues and greens reveal Munch's awareness of Van Gogh's art from 1887 to 1891.

The reduction of natural scenery to streaks of color that zoom ahead and swirl around was graphically and conceptually revolutionary. So was the idea of a character swaying in unison with the landscape behind him.

As striking in color as in composition, the pastel hits you in the face from far away, and in today's market that draws an immediate response from buyers whose attention span is becoming ever shorter.

Yet aesthetics are not the only reason for the price that made the pastel the most expensive work of art ever auctioned and allowed Sotheby's to post a $330 million score on Wednesday, the highest ever achieved by the auction house in Impressionist and Modern art.

The very diversity of the works that triggered competition resulting in extremely high prices proved otherwise.

This phenomenon was already evident at Christie's on Tuesday. The evening session was the most modest the company has ever held in New York, whether in numbers of lots — 22 pictures, four drawings, five sculptures — or in the quality of the offerings. It nevertheless turned into a huge success. The 28 lots that found takers added up to more than $117 million and only three negligible works remained unwanted.

Buyers jumped into the fray right from the beginning, often bidding with a fury utterly disproportionate to the art that was on the block.

The second lot at Christie's was "Sur la Terrasse," a drawing done by Picasso in a rare lighthearted mood on a fine summer day in Cannes, France. It swiftly doubled its high estimate at a stupendous $1.59 million. Next came a narrow horizontal picture by Picasso, "Le Repos (Marie-Thérèse Walter)." Painted in May 1932, the portrait of the young woman snoozing with her face resting on her arm has a dreamy quality not usually associated with the Baroque, violently distorted portrayals of humans from that year favored by present-day buyers. Even so, "Le Repos" sold for $9.88 million, well over the high estimate.

It was followed by an indifferent still life of anemones done by Monet in 1885, which easily met expectations when it went for $1.65 million. And then came one of the two star lots at the sale, a watercolor by Cézanne dating from the mid-1890s. It can be recognized at a glance as a preparatory sketch for the right hand character in the Musée d'Orsay's "Les Joueurs de Cartes" (The Card Players). The Paris picture is perhaps Cézanne's most written about work, even if there are two other similar versions. The watercolor lacks the sparkle of Cézanne's great sketches brushed outdoors. That did not stop it from triggering furious competition and soaring to $19.12 million, surprising seasoned market observers.

Later, the same price was fetched by a still life of peonies painted by Matisse in 1907. At $19.12 million, the Matisse exceeded the high estimate by more than half, causing even greater surprise. While the picture, which dates from the artist's Fauve period, is a market rarity, its composition is messy rather than boldly avant garde.

Paradoxically, the one truly great picture that evening did not perform as hoped. Monet's "Les demoiselles de Giverny" dated 1894 is a pure masterpiece. The color scheme makes it unusual within his oeuvre. It points to the Impressionist painter's vivid awareness of the watercolors and lithographs executed by Henri Rivière in the 1880s. At $9.6 million, the landscape was an inspired acquisition, made on just one bid against the reserve.

In striking contrast, extremely high prices were paid for works that were not outstanding. Picasso's "Deux nus couchés," painted in March 1968, sold for a very generous $8.8 million. Bidders were manifestly more concerned about labels than great art — in the newcomer's book, Picasso is deemed to be glitzier than Monet. The more outrageous cartoon style works of post-World War II years are most instantly recognizable as the work of Picasso. And instant recognition is a major criterion for buyers who approach pictures as commodities.

On Wednesday, this was spectacularly verified at Sotheby's. Easy recognition and a glamorous provenance guaranteed huge financial success whenever a famous signature was appended to the picture. Typical Picassos triggered Pavlovian reflexes, whether they were in the artist's Cubist manner or purely figural.

"Femme assise dans un fauteuil," from 1941, belongs in the first category. The jarring, grimacing likeness went slightly above the gigantic middle estimate as it sold for $29.2 million. Soon after, the smoothly figural "Deux Femmes" — done in gouache over an impression of an etching carrying the same title — more than doubled the high estimate at $2.1 million. The price is huge for a relatively small print heightened with color. Later, "Tête de Femme (Portrait de Françoise)" — done in 1946 in another strictly figural style that echoes posters of the period — also went slightly over the high estimate, selling for $6.91 million.

Instant recognition plus a distinguished provenance likewise propelled Joan Miro's "Tête Humaine" to the high level expected, or, more precisely, desired by the auction house. The abstract Surrealist composition in mixed media executed in 1931 sold above the middle estimate, making $14.9 million.

Figural Surrealism was greeted with comparable enthusiasm. Salvador Dalí's "Printemps nécrophilique," dated 1936, went above the ambitious high estimate by 15 percent, climbing to a truly surreal $16.3 million. In 1998, the picture was sold at Christie's London for the then-equivalent of $1.32 million.

Surrealism of course has gone sharply up since then. It undoubtedly matches the mood of the present time. More important perhaps, the works of leading Surrealists are effortlessly identifiable, the common denominator between all the pictures and sculpture that have been rising over the past decade and drove bidders into a frenzy of desire this week.

Consider the sculptor Constantin Brancusi's virtually abstract forms. These could not be further removed from figural Surrealism and yet rose roughly in proportion during the same period. "Prométhée" is the title given to a gilt bronze rounded form with the merest suggestion of a stylized nose. In 1999, it realized $1.21 million at Christie's New York. The price at Sotheby's this week was $12.7 million. This left a huge profit for the consignor who had bought it at Christie's.

The prospect of such lucrative acquisitions attracts growing numbers of newcomers to the art market loaded with disposable millions if not billions of dollars. Sadly, no one bothers to tell them about the works that do not sell well, or fail altogether — 20 percent of the lots failed to sell at Sotheby's. Nor is the newcomers' attention drawn to the unpredictable nature of auction prices.

On Wednesday evening, several prices missed the lower end of the estimate, despite the exceptionally bullish mood that drove bidders.

A 1947 Cubist composition by Francis Picabia, "Bal Nègre" was bought at Sotheby's in 2006 for $1.8 million. It sold this week on a single $1.5 million bid. The distinguished provenance, the Theodore J. Forstmann estate, and the impressive list of major museum exhibitions in which the Picabia has been featured made no difference.

Right now, the art market situation offers uncomfortable similarities with the state of affairs in the spring of 1990. Prices were then shooting sky high courtesy of newcomers, many of them from Japan, with a notorious propensity for reckless bidding.

Occasional failures curiously marred the successful sessions, and the world economy teetered on the brink of a recession. One can only hope that the analogy will not be carried further.

On an Island, Worker Bees Fill a Long White Hive

Frieze New York Contemporary Art Fair

Published: May 4, 2012

Randalls Island is a green piece of Manhattan real estate separating the East and Harlem Rivers. In the century after the city acquired the land in 1835, it was the site of a poorhouse; a reformatory for juvenile delinquents; and a hospital for "Idiots and Children."

By the 1930s, when the urban planner/wrecker Robert Moses set up an office on the island, those unhappy institutions were gone. In the 1990s, a spiffy multipurpose sports complex took their place. As if to top off the gentrification process, this weekend and on Monday the island will serve as pied-à-terre to Frieze New York, a contemporary art fair that originated, with wild success, in London nine years ago, and is now introducing a local franchise.

The gentrification of contemporary art itself is an old story in two parts. Part one is about a 20th-century model of an avant-garde, with artists as feisty cultural delinquents and idiot savants who set themselves outside the mainstream to make baffling things and think deep thoughts.

In part two, set in the 21st century, the model has changed. Now artists, whether they know it or not, are worker bees in an art-industrial hive. Directed by dealers and collectors who dress like stylish accountants, they turn out predictable product for high-profile, high-volume fairs like Frieze.

The fair is nothing if not smoothly run, starting with the logistics of getting there, which is fun. You can board a ferry from a pier at 35th Street for a 20-minute ride up the East River, or catch a school-bus shuttle on Third Avenue between 125th and 126th Streets that will drive you to the island. The fair itself — nearly 180 galleries, along with restaurants, bars, V.I.P. lounges, an auditorium and a bookstore — is installed in one long, curvaceous white tent.

The architectural equivalent of a white stretch limo, the tent was designed by the Brooklyn firm SO-IL, and has the advantage of letting in lots of natural light, which makes the art look good. It's also fairly roomy. The three parallel rows of booths feel commodious and flexible, an improvement over the city's annual Armory Show, where everyone's always penned in tight, and from which Frieze took inspiration and learned much.

Like most fairs its size, this one is technically international, with a small handful of participants from Asia, and one each from Africa and the United Arab Emirates. Mostly, though, it's European and American big guns, interspersed, for the sake of edginess, with a certain number of newish galleries and a special section, called "Frames," made up of solo installations by artists represented by galleries that opened in or after 2001.

With all of this demographic leveling, and suffused light, and organizational finesse, what do you get? A standard big art fair that just feels a bit cooler than most.

Some galleries have tried hard to create a look or an atmosphere. (There's an incentive: a $10,000 prize to the booth judged, by a Frieze art-star jury, to be the most innovative.) In general, simple works well. A solo hanging of Marieta Chirulescu's pale abstract paintings at Micky Schubert from Berlin create a reflective mood; a floor-to-ceiling installation of little, colorful Joshua Abelow paintings at James Fuentes have similarly uniform effect, in this case of nonstop visual chatter.

Being by temperament a content-seeker, I find myself drawn to spaces with work that seems to require close looking and reading. I was rewarded at Broadway 1602 with a selection of small pieces by several remarkable female artists who had visibility decades ago, only to drop out of sight. One of them, Alina Szapocznikow (1926-73), who worked in ceramics, has recently come back into view. Others — Evelyne Axell, Penny Slinger, Nicola L. — are waiting in the wings, and this gallery is doing its share to prepare the stage for their re-entry.

Experimenter, a gallery from Kolkata, India, has in interesting, topically inflected lineup in Naeem Mohaiemen, Bani Abidi and the Turner-prize nominated Otolith Group.

And at Moscow's Regina Gallery I was able to renew, and extend, my acquaintance with Evgeny Antufiev, the young Siberian artist whose doll-like stitched figures were a highlight of the New Museum's great "Ostalgia" show last year.

The booths I've mentioned are all on the small side. So are the solo installations that make up the "Frame" section, located at almost the exact center of the tent. The array here is attractively varied, from stylistically quite different photographs by Michelle Abeles and Talia Chetrit to jewelry made from gold and recycled trash by Liz Glynn, to a concrete sculpture by Justin Matherly that has the bulk and muscle of a shattered and illogically reassembled "Laocoön."

We get compelling tours of German painters from the 1980s at Michael Werner, and of current Romanian figurative work — by Razvan Botis, Ion Grigorescu (also in "Ostalgia") and the team of Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor — at Andreiana Mihail Gallery from Bucharest. Both displays provide valuable updates, which is the main function of art fairs for many of us.

As is usually true these days, there's a heavy sampling of abstract painting, a lot of which suggests sleek, generic hotel-chain filler. And inevitably, there's a fair share of plain, gross, look-at-me stuff, on the order of Anselm Reyle's wall-filling, Warholy whatsits.

Somebody, someday will write a social history of 21st-century art fairs, which will also be a history of the art of an era. I hope that history will give a sense of how engulfing the phenomenon is and of the Stockholm syndrome-like mentality it has produced: almost everyone says in private how they hate fairs, but everyone shows up at them, smiling anyway, and hangs out, when they could be visiting studios, or going to offbeat spaces, or taking trips, to Kolkata, say, or Bucharest, or Rio, or Cape Town, where all kinds of serious, in-touch-with-life work is going on.

But the fairs say: don't bother. We'll do the editing. We have what you need.

As a peripheral attraction for its New York debut, Frieze commissioned several projects, some of them interactive, and all but one outside the tent. The one inside is of particular interest. For it, the New York artists John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres were invited to make, in a workshop environment, plaster portrait casts of visitor's faces in very much the same way that they made portraits of their neighbors in an embattled South Bronx in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

These artists go back to the wild-and-woolly avant-garde model, but here they are, temporary guests of the new one.

And whatever you think of the current Whitney Biennial, which has been greeted with the usual complement of cheers and jeers, it too, in a way, sets its sights on an earlier model of modest-size, personalized art-making, but ends up being the most fair-friendly Biennial in years. Most of its carefully calculated approximations of outsider weirdness make for ideal, booth-size, cash-and-carry retail.

A final note: tickets for admission to New York Frieze are available only online. This effectively denies entry to anyone without computer access, which means a not-small number of New Yorkers. Outside, after I saw the fair, I thought of the poor, the crazy and the criminal who once, whether they wanted to or not, called Randalls Island home. Their ghosts must be looking at that big white worm of a tent, at the Wall Street suits, and at this stuff called art that you can do nothing with but buy and sell, with wondering distrust. I'm looking at it all that way myself.

Frieze New York remains at Randalls Island Park through Monday. Tickets available online at friezenewyork.com.

Rothko Leads a Record Contemporary Art Sale

Published: May 9, 2012

NEW YORK — In a surge of bidding unprecedented in art market history, Christie's Tuesday evening sale of contemporary art took in $388.5 million, the highest amount ever in that field.

A world auction record was set for a work of contemporary art when Mark Rothko's "Orange, Red, Yellow" painted in 1961 sold for just under $87 million. Christie's estimate was $35 million to $45 million, plus the sale charge of more than 15 percent. Christopher Burge, who conducted the session with exceptional brio, brought down his hammer on the $77.5 million winning bid after one of the longest bidding matches yet witnessed in a contemporary art sale.

The Rothko had everything going for it. Acquired from Marlborough Fine Art in London in 1967 by David Pincus, one of the leading American collectors in the second half of the century, the picture, consigned from the connoisseur's estate, had never appeared in the market during the intervening 45 years.

Rothko, who died in 1970, was the dominant force in the New York abstractionist movement of the 1960s, and "Orange, Red, Yellow" can convincingly be argued to be the most powerful of all his pictures. That record leaves well behind the previous highest price paid at auction for a Rothko when "White Center (Yellow, Pink and Lavender on Rose)" sold at Sotheby's in May 2007, for $72.8 million. The market was then peaking on the eve of the 2008 recession, which makes this week's new record all the more impressive.

The price that greeted "Orange, Red, Yellow" was the most spectacular of 14 world records established on Tuesday.

Two of these were set for American artists who, like Rothko, are at the heart of post-World War II art history and are held as blue chips of 20th-century art.

Jackson Pollock's "Number 28, 1951," an abstract composition, soared to $23.04 million, doubling the $11.65 million achieved in May 2004, when "Number 12, 1949," appeared at Christie's.

The record Pollock picture, also consigned from the David Pincus estate, is the first of the paintings made by the artist between 1951 and 1952 in the drip technique that gives the paint surface a deep relief. The dazzling rhythm of the swishing white, gray and black curves has a hypnotic quality that accounts for the astonishing price paid this week.

The three-dimensional oeuvre of Alexander Calder inspired comparable enthusiasm. "Snow Flurry," done around 1950 in painted sheet metal and wire, became the American artist's most expensive hanging mobile sold at auction as it made $10.38 million, doubling the highest expectations pinned on it.

A world record was also established for a standing mobile. Halfway through the sale, "Lily of Force" executed in 1945 went up to $18.56 million. This exceeded by half the ambitious estimate quoted by Christie's for the Calder.

Among the American artists that have been less prominent on the art scene, Barnett Newman, who died in 1970, made the most spectacular jump. "Onement V," an abstract composition of deep blue bands painted in 1952 realized $22.48 million, dwarfing the $5.19 million paid four years earlier at Christie's for an untitled 1969 composition in ink.

European artists represented by significant works triggered the same irrepressible enthusiasm. The French artist Yves Klein's "FCI (Fire Color I)," nearly 3 meters, or 10 feet, long completed in 1962 shortly before his death, brought an astounding $36.48 million. This is far above the previous record set at Sotheby's in May 2008, with "MG9," done in gold leaf, which sold for $23.56 million.

Ghostly ochre female figures outlined by purple hazy halos appear in the composition executed with dry pigments and resin on panel. The elaborate process used by Klein in his so-called "Fire Paintings" required female studio assistants to stand in the nude in front of vast panels on which they pressed their bodies and left impressionistic imprints.

The German artist Gerhard Richter, arguably the greatest master of the Abstractionist school, also ascended to stratospheric heights. An "Abstract Picture" dating from 1993 brought a record $21.81 million. This is $1 million more than his "Abstract Picture" of 1997, which sold at Sotheby's in November 2011. The new record price confirms that Mr. Richter, who is 80, is now fully recognized, with every good reason, as a towering figure of the art of our time.

Urs Fischer's "Untitled (Standing)" is a life-size wax likeness of a collector and publisher, Peter Brant, leaning on an armchair likewise molded in wax. The catalog specifies that 14 wicks are lodged in the man's waxen body, "which, when lit, turn 'Untitled (Standing)' into a giant candle that slowly melts to the floor." Christie's, however, made no attempt to follow these instructions on Tuesday evening. This must be left to the buyer of "Untitled (Standing)" who paid a record $1.3 million for the Fischer.

Sherrie Levine's "Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp)" illustrates another aspect of the prankish streak in today's art. It is the golden bronze reproduction of the very real urinal that Marcel Duchamp, the founder of the Dada movement in the early 20th century, sent to an art show. The grand master of the art of the absurd intended it as a kick in the teeth of the Parisian intellectual establishment as well as at the well-heeled art-collecting bourgeoisie.

The mockery of yore is taken very seriously by present-day buyers encumbered by surplus millions. Ms. Levine's "Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp)" was executed in 1991 in an edition of six. Those who did not have the courage this week to pay more than the new world record price for a Levine, $962,500 must not lose hope. Other golden copies of Duchamp's urinal, likewise incised with Sherrie Levine's initials, may yet turn up.

Picasso's palette adds Modern Ball greenbacks
Catherine Bigelow Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The color green joined Picasso's revered periods of Blue and Red last week at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's magnificent Modern Ball.

This swinging, sold-out soiree, expertly executed by Modern Ball chairwoman Dolly Chammas with honorary chairs Helen Schwab and her husband, SFMOMA board Chairman Charles Schwab, benefited the museum's public arts education programs to the tune of $2.8 mil.

And thanks to reigning mod man Stanlee Gatti, all 2,000 guests benefited from his Picasso inspiration (including the Cubist, Primitivism and African eras), which transformed these 3-parties-in-1 into fantastically chic landscapes of color, form and design.

Decked-out guests added to the party palette, too, in a riot of creative ensembles and glamorous gowns. SFMOMA trustee Susan Swig shimmered in a Lisa Perry cocktail sheath adorned with sequined Jeff Koons' art. Karen Sutherland and Paula Carano arrived in the same Mary Katrantzou design. But as only three of this mold-breaking, modernistic gown exist in the world, all was well. And Daniel Detorie delighted in his $12 eBay find: a Picasso-painting jacket that he paired with his vintage Commes des Garcons pants.

Dazzling in a colorful Etro dress topped by a fanciful fascinator, SFMOMA trustee Charlotte Shultz said the invitation's "Dress Up!" instruction inspired her to lay out less-staid options for her husband, former Secretary of State George Shultz.

"But," she said, "it was really no surprise when he chose his American flag bow tie."

A clear tent framed the Supper Club Lounge where the Junior-ish set noshed on a bounteous McCalls Associates buffet amid African-inspired burlap-wrapped walls and banquettes, dotted with red blooms and pillows, as DJ Cams set the groove. Twinkling torchieres suspended from the tent reminded SFMOMA volunteer Clara Azulay of designer Edward Nieto's exquisite creations.

"Really?" asked Gatti, with a laugh. "I love his work! But these cost much less - we just framed the lights in nylons filled with sand."

Inside the Patrons Dinner tent, guests glowed Picasso blue as they supped on a masterful McCalls meal beneath white fabric swags and lighted tables adorned with Gatti's version of Picasso's Cubist guitar. And upon each seat sat a fragrance gift from ball co-sponsor Giorgio Armani.

Before a stellar set by chef-DJ Hubert Keller, a Christie's-led live auction sparked a spirited bidding war for artist Doug Aitken's sculpture, "1968," which was won for $230K.

Late night in the Haas Atrium, the Post-Modern Party kicked into high gear as electrofunk DJs Chromeo kept guests grooving until midnight.

And the fact that SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra didn't recognize half those faces thrilled him.

"Our goal is to create one of the truly great contemporary art museums on the planet," he declared. "And tonight represents a powerful idea of what art means to a flourishing, public culture."

Picasso P.S.: More photos from this fete can be found at bit.ly/IF6FqT.

Big screen: Amid the glitz and glamour last week at the Warfield theater during the San Francisco Film Society's Awards Night, board member and gala co-chair Todd Traina admitted it's been a very difficult year for the organization.

"Aside from the devastating loss of our directors, Graham Leggat and Bingham Ray, we don't have a dedicated home or a stand-alone film center," he said. "But we're determined to continue Graham's legacy of programming, master classes and education 365 days a year."

Among the cineastes: SFFS acting Director Melanie Blum and her husband, Larry Blum; actor Delroy Lindo; SFFS board Chairman George Gund and board members including Sid Ganis, Carla Emil, Maurice Kanbar, Max Boyer Glynn, Dale Djerassi, Frank Caufield; Katie Traina; Susie McBaine and Fred Levin, whose late father, Irving "Bud" Levin, founded this starry shebang back in 1957.

The S.F. International Film Festival (which ends Thursday) and gala, honoring director Kenneth Branagh, actress Judy Davis, writer David Webb Peoples and new filmmaker Behn Zeitlin, was a night to celebrate. It prompted Traina to recall Leggat's words: "The festival is a thing of beauty."

And the gala, which Traina co-chaired with SFFS board President Pat McBaine, was a beauty, too, as it raised $500K for SFFS' Youth Education programs.

Catherine Bigelow is The Chronicle's society correspondent. missbigelow@sfgate.com

This article appeared on page E - 4 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/05/01/DDOO1OBORJ.DTL#ixzz1tgR4gNRA

Museum of Contemporary Art honors Annie Leibovitz

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.—Annie Leibovitz has photographed practically every celebrity, rock star and politician over the past four decades, but when she was honored by the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, she showed a photograph of Niagara Falls.

Leibovitz received the 7th MOCA Award to Distinguished Women in the Arts Tuesday at a private luncheon at the Regent Beverly Wilshire hotel in Beverly Hills. She showed the Niagara Falls image and told a story about a recent trip there with her children featured in her new book, "Pilgrimage."

She said the MOCA honor "means a lot to me."

"This award has been given to a great group of women, very distinguished company," she said, noting that artist Barbara Kruger was among the guests Tuesday. "And here I am in California. This is where I learned to be a photographer."

Leibovitz, 62, started shooting for Rolling Stone magazine in 1970 while still a student at the San Francisco Art Institute. She went on to work for Vanity Fair and Vogue and has released several books of her photographs. Her "Pilgrimage" collection is currently on view at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Some of her most iconic images include a naked John Lennon curled around clothed Yoko Ono and Demi Moore nude and pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair.

Ever humble, Leibovitz snapped photos, Facebook-style, with fans' pocket cameras before accepting her award from her friend Maria Shriver.

In one of her rare public appearances since filing for divorce from Arnold Schwarzenegger last summer, Shriver described Leibovitz as a living legend and "a woman of brilliance."

"I'm here out of friendship for her, but really out of respect for the way she has lived her extraordinary life," Shriver said. "You have chosen (to recognize) a woman who has had an incredible effect not just on the arts, not just on fashion, not just on photography, not just on women, but on all of us."

Actresses Marisa Tomei, Rosanna Arquette and Daphne Zuniga were among the celebrities at the luncheon that benefited MOCA's educational programs. A group of young students participating in Contemporary Art Start also attended the event.

Dedicated to hyping contemporary art

April 26, 2012 12:13 AM
By Chirine Lahoud
The Daily StarThis is the latest in a series of Q&As with Beirut-area gallerists about the shifting challenges and opportunities in representing Lebanese and other Arab artists in the international art market.

BEIRUT: In December 1972, Naila Kettaneh-Kunigk opened the Galerie Tanit in Munich and for forty years has been devoted to promoting contemporary artists. Established in Gefinor Center in 2008, Espace Kettaneh-Kunigk, Tanit's sister gallery, charts the same course – encouraging talented photographers, painters and sculptors.

In her work gallerist Naila Kettaneh-Kunigk has represented Lebanese artists at Paris Photo, the iconic photography exhibition gathering more than 100 galleries from around the world each year, and Art Dubai, one of this region's most expansive art fairs.

Q: What Lebanese artists do you represent overseas?

A: Some Lebanese artists are represented by the gallery and some aren't. There should be a certain maturity in their art before we consider representing them. For example, at Paris Photo we represent Gilbert Hage, Fouad Elkoury, Roy Samaha, Nadim Asfar and Nancy Debs Haddad.

Q: Do you find you make more sales at art fairs or at freestanding (solo and group) exhibitions?

A: On an international scale, there are more sales at art fairs. In Beirut, the situation is different because we live in a micro-situation where art developed in the last 10-15 years, after the Civil War. Before that, there were certain galleries that struggled a lot. Nowadays, we are maybe eight or nine galleries of contemporary art. And this ambiance enables us to promote young artists.

Q: How do you decide which work by your Lebanese artists are worthy of international exhibition?

A: There is always a matter of maturity. All I can use is my past experience. I choose artists who bring something new, a new inspiration and a new way of representing things. It's fine tuning.

Q: Can you make any observations about what kind of art collectors are looking for nowadays? Are collectors still interested in "Arab art," or have they become more interested in art from "Asia," for instance?

A: There are two types of collectors: the ones who consider art as an adventure and the ones who purchase artwork as a secured value. [They are] interested by art from the region. These artists got to be known outside from their country of origins and also in massive fairs. People are more and more interested in this art.

Asian art is special because it has a different level than the one from the region. There are many billionaires who invest in this art. It goes faster in Asia.

Q: How has the market for Lebanese artists changed over the years?

A: Art Dubai, for example, created a sort of platform. And we are really curious to see what the Beirut Art Fair will propose. There were a lot of exchanges in the past and now, artists are coming back to Lebanon.

Q: Do you think collectors consider your artists to be Arab/Lebanese artists first? Or artists first?

A: We try to make people forget that the artists [we represent] are Lebanese. We try to guide them to a general vision of things on an international level. But we never forget the native fiber. We did an exhibition of Syrian artists ["Artists from Syria Today"] that was really successful. Their opinions were respected and all the works were sold.

Q: Is it possible to generalize about the characteristics of "Lebanese" or "Arab" art that make it distinct from work being made elsewhere in the world nowadays?

A: For the time being, there is a lot of political art, which is normal since our generation has been through many wars. But you'll see that many young artists choose to work with new media – such as photography, videos, performances with video installations – because they feel more at ease [using them] and because they didn't have many paragons. We have excellent young photographers who succeed in international competition.

Q: Many galleries are only interested by the commercial aspect of art. And many gallerists are said to be indifferent to the aesthetics and practice of the artists whose work they sell. Do you agree?

A: A gallery has to earn money. It is a must. There are ups and downs but the first purpose of a gallery is to present artists and to cover its expenses. Otherwise, a gallery is useless. We are not just a space for contemporary art. We are the interface between the public – of future collectors – and the artist.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 26, 2012, on page 16.

Italy museum burns art to protest against crisis

By Steve Scherer

ROME | Thu Apr 19, 2012 12:57pm EDT

(Reuters) - An Italian museum director in the mafia-influenced northeast of Naples has pledged to burn three works of art per week to protest against the lack of spending on culture.

Antonio Manfredi plans to torch a photograph entitled "The great circus of Humanity" by Filippos Tsitsopoulus, on Thursday. He has already destroyed two paintings and has selected three more works from the museum's collection of 1,000 for next week.

The 50-year-old Manfredi is a full-time artist who has been director of the Casoria Contemporary Art Museum for seven years.

The museum receives no public funds. But the recession has eliminated what private funding sources it had and Manfredi said the local Camorra mafia has tightened its grip in the area by buying up struggling businesses.

"I don't know who to turn to anymore for money," Manfredi told Reuters. "And I refuse to ask the Camorra."

Worse than the lack of funds is the indifference of politicians to the plight of the nation's vast cultural wealth, which is increasingly bankrupt, while mafia influence grows, he said.

The plight of Casoria's small, private contemporary art museum reflects problems felt by public contemporary art museums in Rome, Naples and Palermo, which have virtually no funding for new exhibitions.

Italy's belt-tightening to restore faith in its ability to pay back 1.9 trillion euros ($2.5 trillion) in debt has hit cultural spending particularly hard.

Rome's MAXXI museum, just over two years old, was placed under special administration earlier this month after running into financial problems and the MADRE in Naples has closed two floors because it cannot afford to put exhibits there.

Even the country's historic art treasures are falling into disrepair, as a series of structural collapses have shown at the ancient city of Pompeii, which was buried in ash after Mount Vesuvius blew its top 2,000 years ago.


Some eminent voices in Italy's art world disagree with Manfredi's methods.

"Burning art is adolescent exhibitionism. It's a Neapolitan parody, where one man is taking advantage of the severe crisis for visibility," said Achille Bonito Oliva, one Italy's leading contemporary art critics.

And yet on one thing both Manfredi and Bonito Oliva agree - that some of the millions of euros spent on political parties should be funneled toward museums and culture.

A series of scandals, including one involving the Northern League, a former ally of Silvio Berlusconi that spent eight of the past 10 years in power, has highlighted defects in public funding of election campaigns and parliamentary groups.

The Northern League treasurer restored a cache of diamonds and gold bars he had deposited in a Genoa bank to the party this week, and the party spending scandal led to the resignation of its founder, Umberto Bossi, two weeks ago.

Bonito Oliva said parties should reduce their public funding, which some estimates put at 180 million euros for this year alone, and invest the savings in the struggling museums.

"The lack of funding for museums is a real drama, and it's masochistic of Italy not to convert the raw materials it has - art - into a finished product," Bonito Oliva said.

($1 = 0.7609 euros)

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney: can you guess where the next big thing will be?

When will we see a first-rate survey of contemporary Australian art in this country? Second-tier American artists such as George Condo are shown over here regularly, yet we only get to see terrific young Australians such as Shaun Gladwell and Callum Morton when they turn up at the Venice Biennale.

The question interests me because I've just come back from a tour of Australia's museum and art galleries, and as well as seeing talented artists whose work I hadn't known before, I found an energy and optimism among the curators, collectors and dealers there that reminded me of London in the good old days.

With huge mineral resources, a strong dollar and economic ties to Asia, Australia has survived the economic downturn a lot better than we have. In fact, the place is booming. Since art always follows money, just you watch: contemporary art in Australia is going to be the next big thing.

One of the visible signs of the renaissance taking place down under is the new Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. In some ways Sydney's MCA is Australia's equivalent to Tate Modern, though London didn't have a museum of modern art until 2000, whereas the MCA has been on its site in the historic centre of Sydney on the harbour on a stretch of water across from the Opera House since 1989.

The sandstone building was a clunky art-deco-style office block built in the 1950s. With narrow corridors and low ceilings, it wasn't an ideal place to show modern art – and for many years the museum teetered on the brink of bankruptcy. But under its charismatic director Elizabeth Ann Macgregor, the collection expanded, attendance increased steadily and the need for more space became acute.
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About 10 years ago, Australian architect Sam Marshall was commissioned to renovate its interior and, more important, to design a new building on the site of a former car park next door; this would provide three new galleries, a café, sculpture terrace, education centre and lecture theatre. From outside, the two structures look completely different, but inside Marshall has fused them together so seamlessly I was hardly aware of moving from one to the other.

Marshall was the right architect for the job. Given the site's view of Sydney Harbour and Opera House, this was not the place to build an architectural icon like Guggenheim Bilbao or Pompidou Paris. His building is elegant but not flashy, designed to serve the art and the visitors, rather than call attention to itself. Though unapologetically modernist, the scale and restraint of the entrance façade on historic George Street makes the building surprisingly unobtrusive amid the district's 19th-century merchant's homes that are now used as restaurants, shops and art galleries.

Marshall's design consists of a stack of interlocking cubes and rectangles of different colours and depths separated by big glass windows. Its cladding of black, grey and white panels rhyme with the glass rectangles to create a geometric composition that would have interested Mondrian – had he been colour-blind. When you move around the exterior, you notice the skill with which Marshall contrasts light and dark, horizontal and vertical, closed and open, transparent and opaque.

As you step from the street into the low entrance foyer, your eye is drawn irresistibly to the dramatic focus of the building — the incomparable view of Sydney Harbour. At each level of the building, you keep getting glimpses of what's to come.

Only when you arrive on the roof terrace and its panoramic view over Circular Quay and Sydney Cove towards the billowing crests of the Opera House does the building deliver the drama and the rush of adrenalin you've been waiting for. And there are few experiences in the world to match it.

The opening exhibition, Marking Time, is about how 11 artists, including Christian Marclay and Tatsuo Miyajima, have handled the passing of minutes, days, and years.

But the high point of my visit was a gallery dedicated to Shaun Gladwell's hypnotic film Storm Sequence, in which the artist performs skateboard stunts with balletic grace just above Bondi Beach. He is somehow transformed during the 10 minutes or so the film lasts into a dancer on the edge of the world. I will be back.

Museum of Contemporary Art looks back at the '80s

By Lori Waxman
A group of young people clustered around a video monitor at the entrance to the Museum of Contemporary Art's survey of the art of the 1980s. Playing was "Wild Style," the rawest, coolest movie ever made about rap and graffiti. Charlie Ahearn shot it in 1982, when the people watching at the MCA had not yet been born.

Is "This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s" an exhibition for people who were not alive when Reaganomics heralded a new era of luxury and disparity? When the cultural revolutions of the '60s ended their marches and started to find multiracial and female representatives finally sitting at the table? When AIDS became the most urgent rallying cry, as the radical act of same-sex love found itself ending in death and, possibly worse, indifference?

Viewers of any age must check all the usual expectations for a retrospective exhibition at the door. "This Will Have Been" makes no claims to being chronological or inclusive, nor to fitting '80s art into any of its familiar categories. There's not a painting byJean-Michel Basquiatin sight, nor wall text trumpeting "Appropriation Art" here or "Neo-Expressionist Painting" there. This is exciting. Would that the results were consistently so.

The exhibition, organized by Helen Molesworth, chief curator of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, begins promisingly. Or rather, it begins with an installation of works that speak forcefully about broken promises. Front and center stands Krzystof Wodiczko's "Homeless Vehicle," a shopping-cart-cum-missile designed in collaboration with its intended users, meant to provide storage space for redeemable bottles and cans, a sleeping chamber, a wash basin and a conspicuous message about the utter unacceptability of human beings living on the street. Nearby, Adrian Piper's "Calling Cards" rages politely at racist and sexist remarks, handouts given by the artist — a light-skinned black woman — to offending commentators. Everywhere scurry the life-size rats Christy Rupp once printed up as posters, and wheat-pasted in long lines across lower Manhattan. It isn't a pretty picture now, and it wasn't then.

Next comes a suite of rooms that bear witness to endings — the death of painting, the scourge of AIDS. "The End Is Near" trumpets a wall text. The art world did not go quietly in either case. Painters like Gerhard Richter, Mary Heilman and Peter Halley fought the good fight, armed not just with brushes and acrylic but irony, punk edge and social consciousness. The audacity of hanging this work within spitting distance of General Idea's "AIDS Wallpaper" pays off, animating the tensions of a decade that swung precipitously between radical and conservative, freewheeling and critical.

Another cluster, under the heading "Desire & Longing," induces shivers by placing Jeff Koons' shiny stainless steel "Rabbit," sign and symptom of a lust for fancy consumer goods, in front of some of the most aching, honest art by men about their attraction to other men's bodies. David Wojnarowicz, Felix Gonzalez-Torres and Robert Mapplethorpe, who made those haunting works, all died of AIDS. Koons made a fortune from sales, and contributed to the wealth of countless collectors and dealers. And this all happened in downtown Manhattan, at more or less the same time.

Potent moments like these, planted like ticking time bombs throughout the museum, would have added up to an explosive exhibition. Instead, the second half of "This Will Have Been" disappoints, despite terrific work by familiar names like Rosemarie Trockel, Haim Steinbach, Robert Gober, Jimmie Durham and Carrie Mae Weems, as well as the less familiar Deborah Bright, Lorraine O'Grady and Jac Leirner. The curatorial moxie disappears. Themes of "Democracy" and "Gender Trouble" read like so much text on a wall. Art works that ought to have gained something through proximity lose something instead.

Displays of powerful, witty activist campaigns by the Guerilla Girls, Gran Fury and Group Material — fighting sexism in the art world, racism and homophobia in the general populace and AIDS biases in the White House — look lost and flimsy, stuck near an emergency exit or over a doorway. In real life these posters shouted proud from the sides of city buses. Jenny Holzer's "10 Inflammatory Essays," unsigned excerpts from incendiary political and aesthetic manifestoes, simply photocopied on colored paper, usually plasters an entire wall. Here it barely registers on the narrow side of a partition.

The inclusion of a certain amount of work by European or Latin American artists confounds, since the show feels so geographically and culturally grounded in New York, even if that premise goes unstated. What to make, then, of the presence here of artists as diverse as the cannily Parisian Sophie Calle or the insistently Colombian Doris Salcedo? For better or worse, they're here because art began its transformation into a global enterprise in the '80s. And it's never turned back.

But the lesson of "This Will Have Been" is that you can turn back. Things just might look different than they once did. Certainly Sherri Levine's photographic copies of the early 20th-century painter Egon Schiele's sultry self-portraits no longer have the thrill they must have had when she first presented them as her own work in 1982. But what a relief — feminism did change the world.

And appropriation became a tool taught in art school.

"This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s," through June 3 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Ave. 312-280-2660, mcachicago.org

Lori Waxman is a special contributor to the Tribune and an instructor at the School of the Art Institute.

Solo Chicago show for artist Rashid Johnson

By Caryn Rousseau The Associated Press
CHICAGO - For more than a decade, contemporary artist Rashid Johnson has worked almost under the radar, turning out work presented at museums and coveted by collectors around the world.

But in the last year, the Chicago native, whose works made from everyday objects explore his own life story as well as larger issues of black identity, has garnered high-profile attention and awards from the art world.

This month he opens his first major solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.

"A lot of eyes are on him right now," said Julie Rodrigues Widholm, curator of "Rashid Johnson: Message to Our Folks."

"He's an artist who has been working for 14 years and has never had a major solo exhibition," she said.

"We really felt because of that absence it was time."

That timing is excellent. In the last year, Johnson has been included in the prestigious International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, was named a 2012 nominee for the Guggenheim Museum's Hugo Boss Prize and won the High Museum's David C. Driskell prize that honors African-American art and scholarship.

The attention is appreciated, Johnson said, but he's more interested in the discourse and dialogue around his work.

"When there's a giant buzz about you, you're the last person to know," he said during an interview.

Johnson, who now works in New York, uses everyday materials - everything from books to mirrors to shea butter to plants - to create sculptures that reflect his own life story while exploring the black experience. In a video on the museum website, he recalls growing up "enveloped in this Afrocentric conversation. We celebrated Kwanzaa, my mother wore dashikis." Then "one day they weren't wearing dashikis anymore," he said. He uses art and humor to explore "that transition from Afrocentrism" to "your parents becoming middle-class soccer moms."

The Chicago exhibition spans Johnson's body of work, emphasizing the last five years. It includes references to major black cultural figures and influences, like W.E.B. DuBois, Miles Davis and Public Enemy, and consists of a variety of media, including photography, video, sculpture and paintings.

Johnson describes himself as a middle-class black kid growing up in the Chicago-area, interested in graffiti, theater and photography. His work, he said, often times is autobiographical.

"It's an introduction to people of a different black experience," Johnson said.

Widholm sees several themes running through Johnson's work, but focuses on identity.

"He is making work that is personal to counteract the expectation of a black artist speaking for all black artists," she said. "His references and his work allude to artists, musicians, political figures, sports figures, who in one way or another stepped outside of tradition."

His future, Widholm said, is bright.

"There's no limit really to what he can accomplish artistically," she said.

The title, "Message to Our Folks," is taken from a 1969 avant-garde album in which musicians used found objects to make percussion and redefine jazz.

The exhibition is in Chicago through Aug. 5. It will travel to the Miami Art Museum, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta and the Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis.

Classic & contemporary: Artist Kristy Gorden's conjures a bewitching mix

What: Rise, new paintings by Kristy Gordon

When: April 24 to May 20, vernissage 2 to 5 p.m., April 29

Where: Cube Gallery, 1285 Wellington St.

More: See more images at ottawacitizen.com

Last fall, for my 50th birthday, Mrs. Big Beat bought me a small self-portrait by Kristy Gordon, which shows the artist, at the time of painting in her late 20s, posing in a suit of armour. The painting is, like everything else Gordon does, a bewitching mix of classical and contemporary — though there’s another reason I mention it here.

The painting hangs in our living room, and whenever artist friends visit it’s the first thing they want to see. We have dozens of original works of art in our home, many much larger and more immediately arresting than the six-inch portrait of the artist in armour, yet that small painting pulls in every artist and art-conscious visitor. They are drawn to it because it is drawn, and painted, so well.

Gordon is now 31, and living and painting in New York City. She’s from British Columbia, and lived in Ottawa in the 1990s while she worked on animation — including, incidentally, The Ren & Stimpy Show. There’s a clutch of animators now doing fine art in Ottawa — Andrew King, Dave Cooper, Ian Jeans, Gord Coulthart — and in each case the animator’s hand can be seen in their paintings or drawings. Yet Gordon’s post-animation work could hardly be further away from it, and it was, until recently, entirely absent. This may be due to the wanderer’s route she’s taken since those days.

Gordon is only 31, yet she has spent time studying formally in Ottawa, Toronto, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, and is now pursuing her Masters at the New York Academy of Art. She’s studied informally in Florence, Rome, Madrid, Paris — and in Ottawa, where she was tutored by the painter Philip Craig, who “got me started,” she says. (“It was also majorly important to me as an artist even just to know someone like him, and see that he made a living off of his art,” she says. “That was the first time I started to realize that was actually an option.”) This summer she’ll spend two months in China, which, in my unscholarly opinion, is the future of contemporary art.

Her wanderlust combines on canvas into portraits that are clearly contemporary and just as clearly based on classical styles and even poses. Their appeal has been widely noted, in exhibitions throughout Canada, the United States and Italy, and through numerous awards in Canada and the U.S. One of her portraits was recently honoured in The Artist magazine, which described it as “a portrait painter’s experiment in visual kinetics: how to capture the essence of movement on a static picture plane.”

That portrait is Rise, and it’s the title piece of her new exhibition at Cube Gallery in Hintonburg. It’s almost unique amongst her work in that it does hint of her grounding in animation. She stands in a deep red dress, and in stop-motion fashion we see her rise from a crouch to almost rigidly upright, all of it softly, slightly blurred, as if seen through antique glass. It could have been painted in the 19th century, except nobody painted like that in the 19th century. It’s a shame more people don’t paint like that now.

Gordon likes to do portraits of her friends and others close to her. Symbiosis is a diptych with a self-portrait on one side and a portrait of her sister on the other. They’re seen from the side, facing each other, as if posed for silhouettes, a classical pose if ever there was one. Only the figures — the hairstyles, the clothes — disclose it all as contemporary.

This, by any reasonable measure, is stellar work, especially for an artist still so young. No wonder my artist friends are transfixed.

The Future of Online Art Sales: Q&A With Saffronart CEO Nish Bhutani – artmarketblog.com

The Future of Online Art Sales: Q&A With Saffronart CEO Nish Bhutani – artmarketblog.com

nish bhutani The Future of Online Art Sales: Q&A With Saffronart CEO Nish Bhutani – artmarketblog.comThe number of websites that facilitate the online sale and purchase of fine art has increased significantly over the last few years as collectors and investors become more confident in the ability of online art sales portals to provide a sufficiently high level of service, quality art, security and peace of mind.

High-end online art sales portals such as Blacklots, Artnet Auctions, Christie's, Paddle 8, Saffron Art and Artprice Auctions have emerged as leaders of the online art market due mainly to the reputation and influence of the people involved in the development of these websites.

In this series of interviews, Nicholas Forrest, owner of the Art Market Blog, talks to some of the most influential leaders of the online art market about the future of online art sales and the development of the online art market. In this, the fourth interview of the series, Nish Bhutani, CEO of Saffronart, discusses the business of selling fine art online from India.

1. Has the online market for fine art matured to a point where stand-alone ventures relying on the sale of online art are a viable option?

In our twelfth year of operation, having relied entirely on online sales of art, yes, we believe the market for fine art is mature enough for this to be a viable option. Recently, however, there have been several new entrants to the online art space, each with a unique business plan and model of operation. It will be interesting to see how the market supports these ventures – we are thrilled to see this level of activity in the space.

2. How would you rate your success?

Since Saffronart was founded in 2000, we have seen our online business expand and evolve considerably. In addition to auctioning several works of modern and contemporary Indian art online (sight unseen), we hold several artist auction records including those for works by Jehangir Sabavala, Arpita Singh and Subodh Gupta.

3. What has been the most significant sale for you to date?

At US$ 2.2 million, Singh's record was also the global record the highest value for a single painting auctioned online and a global record for an Indian woman artist. In 2011 we received a bid for over US$ 1 million placed using our auction application for smart-phones, almost certainly a record for mobile commerce. To date, the highest value purchase via mobile has been US$ 235,000. In 2007 our unique online model was the subject of a case study at Harvard Business School, and continues to be taught to their MBA class there.

4. We already have online art fairs, galleries and auctions; what is the next step for online art sales?

Since art is a fairly social business, I would say the next step for online sales of art would be to leverage the social media revolution and use the applications and tools it provides to engage with existing and potential clients. Another step forward we have taken is to extend our auctions to mobile devices and tablets, with not only mobile catalogues but also the only live bidding application for smart-phones like iPhones and Blackberrys as well as for the iPad.

5. How do you attract and keep online buyers of fine art?

As with any business, we attract new clients, and maintain and grow our existing client base by building trust, offering unparalleled service (both online and offline), and providing products at appropriate values. We have also found that some buyers are entirely comfortable exploring and transacting online, whereas with others there is a fair bit of offline engagement, either privately or at the regular auction previews and events we host at our gallery spaces around the world.

6. What are the characteristics of the main buyers of fine art online?

Online buyers are generally comfortable with technology and the internet. Additionally, those that purchase high end works are familiar enough with the artists and with Saffronart to making a buying decision without physically seeing the piece. No matter what, they must trust you as a business to purchase art online.

7. Which countries are the most active with regards to buying art online?

For us the most active countries are India, the United Kingdom, the United States, UAE and South East Asian nations like Hong Kong and Singapore.

8. How would you describe the current environment for online art sales

Clearly a growth area, and with a number of interesting players jumping in and new business models coming up. We see growing comfort each year amongst online buyers of art.

9. Which mediums are the most popular with online art buyers?

I don't believe there is a thumb rule for this, but the easiest works to get a feeling for online, and therefore the most popular, are paintings on canvas and paper and sculptures. Although we have sold installations and even video-art online, they come up for online sale less frequently.

10. How does your company best take advantage of the online market for fine art?

We tend to think of the overall art market, rather than the online market. But the internet is a terrific medium for reaching a large yet well targeted audience. We do it through a combination of our website, email lists, social media and offline engagement. But most importantly through the service we deliver.

11. What are your plans for the future?

Currently we are expanding our online platform to sell rare and high-end collectibles in addition to art. We extended our platform to Fine Jewels & Watches in 2008, prime real estate in 2010, and Modern & Impressionist Western Art and Carpets & Rugs in 2012. We have also hosted auctions of antiquities. Other than introducing new sale categories, we have developed a new brand of 24-hour theme and genre driven auctions, amongst which our 24-hour Absolute Auctions, where artworks are sold with no reserve prices, have proved extremely successful.

We need to do a lot more in social media – truly integrate it into our online experience, rather than viewing it as a separate tool. We will be working hard at this.

**Nicholas Forrest is a Sydney/London based art market analyst, art consultant and writer. He is the founder of the Art Market Blog (artmarketblog.com) which offers independent commentaries as well as research and analysis on the current art market, and has recently been published in Fabrik magazine, Verve magazine, Visual Art Beat magazine, Australian Art Collector magazine, Art & Investment magazine and many others. Nic has made several radio appearances (both nationally and internationally) as an art market expert and has received press from the likes of the New York Times, Conde Nast Portfolio and Times of London.

Extensive selection of impressive photographic portraits by Anton Corbijn at Camera Work

BERLIN.- Camera Work presents an exhibition of Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn opened on April 21, 2012. Titled »Inwards and Onwards«, the exhibition shows an extensive selection of impressive photographic portraits of eminent figures in the world of art, music and fashion. The large-format portraits featured in the exhibition »Inwards and Onwards« testify to the substantial body of artistic work that Anton Corbijn has created. Apart from striking photographs of true music legends such as Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith or Tom Waits, who have always fascinated Corbijn, the photographer has focussed in his recent work on modern personifications of artistic inspiration such as Marlene Dumas, Gilbert & George or Jeff Koons. Working only in black and white with a Hasselblad camera, Anton Corbijn aims to reduce his photo shoots to the essential. He uses his subjects' familiar environments as settings and works on his own with available light – assistants or artificial lighting are off-limits for him. Corbijn understands the camera as a means to an end – ultimately, he tries to capture the personality and the character hidden deep within the person portrayed beyond any kind of superficial staging although some playfulness is sometimes apparent as with Damien Hirst's photograph and that of Jeff Koons. This unique visual experience can also be found in the unconventional portrait of Gerhard Richter, who not only because of his profession is fully aware of the possibilities that the photographic medium offers for selfdramatization. Anton Corbijn shows the artist with his back turned, thus granting the subject his wish for personal intimacy while at the same time reflecting on his creative work – after all, the people portrayed in Richter's works often have their backs turned on the viewer or are blurred beyond recognition. The late painter Lucien Freud, who passed away in 2011, was another one of the artists who not only let Anton Corbijn enter his private space, but who also allowed him a glimpse of his character. The gesture and the portrayal of personality that define the picture as well as the palpable atmosphere of the photograph are the result of Anton Corbijn's unique approach to his subjects. This approach allows Corbijn to picture layers of personality hidden behind enactments and facades that can only be elicited by art. The photographs offer fascinating insights into singular personalities, as exemplified in the portrait of Kate Moss, whose mask creates a paradox: while destroying the model persona created by the media and calling attention to the real person rather than the construct, it also works as a symbol for the interplay between the sacrifice of privacy and its protection. Other images shown in the exhibition, such as the portrait of Anthony Kiedis, play with the appeal of the serious surreal. Anton Corbijn's photographs attest to the self-analysis of the portrayed and make it visible, while at the same time captivating the viewer with their appealing imagery and their seemingly abstract scenarios, in which the figures depicted allow an intimate glimpse into their personalities: »Inwards and Onwards«.

The ARTnews 200 Top Collectors
The ARTNews annual list of the world's top collectors.
The ARTnews 200 Top Collectors
How Does Your Emotional Intelligence Influence Creativity?

The heart of the entrepreneurial spirit begins with the seed of a creative idea. Entrepreneurs have the gift of nurturing the seed till it flowers and then produces fruit. The process of growing, harvesting, pruning, and planting is continuous -- just like running a business, or the journey of life.

But what happens when your creativity feels stifled, latent, or simply off-the-mark? The essence of entrepreneurs is fed by cutting edge, outside-the-box innovation.

If your creativity feels parched, it's time to take a hard look at your emotional intelligence.

In my last article I outlined the criteria of Emotional Intelligence:

  1. Emotional Awareness,
  2. Emotional Management,
  3. Emotional Relating, and
  4. Emotional Enlightenment.

I touched on the importance of practicing emotional awareness by learning to tune in more to what you're feeling and how you respond to particular situations.

Making a list of your personal values, slowing down in the moment, and consciously choosing your emotional reaction can all contribute to becoming emotionally aware.

Let's examine how emotional awareness affects your creativity.

As entrepreneurs and natural leaders, we wear a lot of hats and juggle multiple balls (especially female entrepreneurs). It's only a matter of time before these responsibilities begin to erode the creative spirit. Stress, fear, frustration, and the never-ending list of tasks can overwhelm the most successful business person. It's usually easy to pinpoint the problem(s) sabotaging our creativity.

So what's the solution, and how can emotional awareness help?

Becoming emotionally aware requires time and commitment, especially for those of us to whom it doesn't come naturally. Just like any new skill, we need to work at it to improve. Reading about it is merely the first step. Putting it into practice requires some toughness. Keep this in mind as you read the following tips to unblock your creative arteries:

1. Retreat. Ideally, set aside one day a month (or at least a quarter) to unplug. The constant electronic barrage of information and communication distracts us more than we realize. Once you're unplugged, go somewhere that invigorates you, preferably alone. Take a walk, wander downtown, go for a hike, do yoga -- you get the idea.

Carry a notebook and pen with you. Sit somewhere (park bench, coffee shop, etc.) quietly for an hour and observe what's going on around you. Use all your senses, not just your eyes and ears. Jot down your thoughts as the moment moves you. Or wait till the end of your retreat and write a reflection of the day. You may be surprised what bubbles to the surface as a result of your unplugged retreat.

2. Be intentional. You need to seek opportunities to grow in this area. Take a hard look at your daily or weekly schedule and figure out how and where you can build in time for emotional awareness. Can you wake up 15 minutes early to meditate or journal? What about incorporating a daily meditative walk? Or treating yourself to a solo lunch date?

A theme is emerging here: alone time. If you don't purposely carve out time to be self-reflective, your emotional awareness can't fully develop and your creativity won't percolate.

3. Cultivate habits. We make time and repeat actions for things that are important to us. It's not enough to read about it, talk about it, and simply make plans. Implementation and consistency are the challenge. Consider how you spend your time in a typical workday or week. How you spend your time reflects your values. If you're dissatisfied with this ratio, it's time for a change.

Remember the bottomless motivation and creativity that spurred you on to start your business? You channeled that fire into useful habits, which in turn bred success. If you're serious about improving your emotional awareness and tapping into your creativity, discipline yourself to foster just one habit that builds space for this.

4. Practice to strengthen. Have you ever completed a marathon or achieved some other physical feat? Most of us understand that physical challenges require training to get our muscles and heart in shape. Otherwise, we're foolishly risking injury that can take weeks or months to recover from. Training for a marathon requires dedication to build your strength and endurance.

Our emotional intelligence must be strengthened with training and practice. Just like a muscle, emotional awareness will atrophy without a workout. For lifelong emotional strength, we need to exercise our self-awareness consistently. So, be intentional about taking your retreat and cultivating your habits. And keep practicing! No one gets it on the first attempt.

Try implementing these tips to improve your emotional awareness and boost your creativity. You may be pleasantly surprised with the new, energized direction your business takes you.

Have you tried these tips? Do they work for you? What else do you do to boost your creativity? Please comment to share what you have found to work.

Iconic Painting 'The Scream' Expected to Fetch $80 Million at New York Auction

Marisa Krystian | Apr 12, 2012 1:36pm EDT | 3min:14sec

It's one of the most iconic images in art history and popular culture and now 'The Scream' is up for sale - to anyone with a spare 80 million U.S. dollars.

Norwegian artist Edvard Munch painted four versions of the famous image in the 1890s. Three are in a museum, the other has been in Norway's Olsen family for 70 years, until now.

The father of current owner Petter Olsen was a friend and patron of Munch and the proceeds from the sale will be used to create a new gallery in Norway dedicated to the artist.

The painting, on display at Sotheby's in London, was done in 1895 and is the most colourful of Munch's four scream compositions. It's also the only one to feature a hand-painted poem by Munch on the frame.

Sotheby's Senior Director Philip Hook said it's the most important work the auction house has handled.

"It's the beginning of man sort of looking in on himself as opposed to painting the outside of himself - i.e. nature and it is the ultimate first image of angst and anxiety," adding, "It's the alienation of modern man. Actually, it's the face that launched a thousand therapists."

When it comes to famous paintings, many in the art world consider 'The Scream' second only to the Mona Lisa.

It's expected to attract significant interest from elite art buyers and reach it's expected 80 million USD price tag, when it goes to auction in New York on May 2.

"It's certainly going to appeal to someone who wants one of the ultimate images of our history and is going to have the opportunity to own the only version that is not in a museum," Hook told Reuters.

Two of the three versions in museums have been targeted by thieves in the past. One, in Norway's national gallery, was stolen in 1994 and recovered three months later. Another was stolen from the Munch museum in Oslo in 2004 and found two years later.

Hook said great pains have been taken to provide security for the painting which has never been shown in London before and hasn't been on public display since 1979.

"Well I think we're always concerned about the works of art that we sell and particularly so with this one because of its rarity and because of the sheer fame of the image. It has in the past been attractive to theft but we're confident we've got measures in place that will protect it."

Works from other famous artists will be auctioned alongside 'The Scream', including paintings by surrealist Salvador Dali.

'Sleeping Girl' by pop artist Roy Lichenstein is expected to sell for 30-40 million USD and Andy Warhol's 'Double Elvis' is expected to go for between 30 and 50 million USD.