In The Frame

Not about faeces and death

Stelios Faitakis, Imposition Symphony, 2011. Courtesy the artist and The Breeder, Athens

As exhibition titles go, "Shit and Die" is up there with the raciest of monikers. The exhibition, held in parallel with the Artissima fair in Turin in November, is organised by the mischief-making Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, Myriam Ben-Salah of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, and the independent curator Marta Papini. The organisers point out everything the show isn't: "'Shit and Die' is not a themed show: it is not a congregation of works dealing with faeces and death. 'Shit and Die' is not a prospective show taking the temperature of the contemporary art scene.... 'Shit and Die' is not a show about curatorial innovation." The City of Turin is the point of departure, with specific objects from key city collections—such as the Museum of Criminal Anthropology (Cesare Lombroso)—acting as "thematic anchors" across seven sections. More than 20 artists, including Francesco Vezzoli, Stelios Faitakis and Sarah Lucas, will participate in this "purposeless journey" (another deadpan description from the organisers) which opens at the Palazzo Cavour (6 November-11 January 2015).

From In The Frame
Published online: 30 September 2014

This month:


Funds needed to purchase a very special Virgin of Sorrows

Mater Dolorosa by Pedro de Mena

The Fitzwilliam Museum’s campaign to raise the funds to acquire The Virgin of Sorrows (Mater Dolorosa), around 1670-75, is going right to the wire. The University of Cambridge’s museum has until today, 30 September, to raise the final £10,000 of the £85,000 needed to purchase the painted wooden sculpture by Pedro de Mena, a spokeswoman says. “People can still donate online towards the acquisition. This week we will be following up some pledges made towards the campaign should the target have fallen short,” she says. The campaign is supported by the Art Fund and Henry Moore Foundation among others. Mena’s Mother of Jesus isn’t ,“one of those lugubrious virgins with rolling eyes that one associates with Spanish religious art,” says Tim Knox, the museum’s director. To donate go to

From In The Frame
Published online: 30 September 2014

Poignant WWI poem at BM sees the light

Laurence Binyon's memorable, and moving, poem

The most memorable poem of the First World War, ‘‘They shall not grow old...’’, was written by the British Museum’s curator of oriental prints Laurence Binyon. In our recent article on the centenary of the war’s outbreak, we mentioned the museum’s memorial to its own dead at the portico entrance, where these words were carved into the stone by Eric Gill. In 1923 the museum decided that when the incised lettering eventually became ‘‘dirty and indistinct’’ it should be gilded (The Art Newspaper, July 2014, p16). This was never done. Both the director, Neil MacGregor, and The Art Newspaper hit on the same idea: it would be an appropriate way of marking the anniversary. This has just been done, although using more subtle cream and umber acrylic paint, rather than gold. Now the words can be clearly read once more, although few visitors will realise that the poem was penned by a curator.

From In The Frame
Published online: 26 September 2014

Art book bonanza in the East End

Attention bookish art lovers: the sixth London Art Book Fair will be the biggest yet, with over 90 exhibitors decamping at the Whitechapel Gallery this weekend (25-28 September). Connoisseurs can look forward to a talk from AA Bronson, the former president of Printed Matter, Inc. and founder of the NY Art Book Fair (25-28 September, MoMA PS1), whose banned erotic novel "Lena" is the subject of a temporary display. Other artists present will be showing off their talents beyond the visual in a series of special events. Martin Creed opens proceedings tonight (25 September) with a few musical numbers, the artists Louise Hervé and Chloé Maillet “tell the future” in their walking narrative performance tomorrow, and author/artist Douglas Coupland talks language, media and technology with curator Omar Kholeif on Saturday. A conversation between Whitechapel director Iwona Blazwick and artist Gavin Turk on Sunday loftily promises to illuminate “the preoccupations and forms that occupy his thoughts in the current landscape of contemporary art and experience." Full programme:

From In The Frame
Published online: 25 September 2014

King Penguin

Harland Miller

The artist Harland Miller has built an entire career on his sardonic, painterly adaptations of iconic Penguin book covers. The publishing giant subsequently decided to commission 11 bespoke Miller riffs on classic Penguin designs for each of the company’s offices around the world. Before being scattered across the globe, this flock of painterly Penguins were brought together for a one-night, one-off showing at White Cube Bermondsey in London where the chief executive John Makinson acknowledged that the project was “full of ironies” but also hoped that the works expressed the company values, “especially that delicate balance of the dignified and the flippant”. For his part, Miller thanked Penguin for “not throwing the book at him”, and reiterated an uncensored version of the sentiment emblazoned on the work hanging on the wall behind him which is destined for the London Office (the racy piece states: "This is where it's f•••••• at.").

From In The Frame
Published online: 24 September 2014

Comradely goodbye gift for British Council veteran

As the battle-scarred veteran of many a tricky Venice Pavilion, outgoing British Council Visual Arts Director Andrea Rose is a dab hand at squeezing works into challenging surroundings. However, at the mass gathering of art world great and good to see her off after 20 years in the post, and in between eulogies from the likes of artists Anish Kapoor and Richard Deacon and Art Fund chief Stephen Deuchar, one of the main topics of conversation was how she was going to need all her installation skills to accommodate her magnificent leaving present: a vast banner emblazoned with her many triumphs and made by master maker Ed Hall, who counts the Turner prize winner Jeremy Deller and the Trades Union Movement as his main clients. Perhaps her art world fans should have rustled her up a new house as well?

From In The Frame
Published online: 23 September 2014

Building blocks

Someone at the British Museum is very in tune with what the kids are into these days. The London institution wants to create a digital replica of itself for the cult computer game Minecraft. The game, which invites its more than one million users to explore and help build a virtual universe, already includes a painstaking model of the Game of Thrones kingdom and a rendering of the real-life Danish government centre. Last week, a British Museum staff member took to Reddit to ask computer whizzes for help recreating the institution’s building and displays using blueprints provided by the museum. There was no shortage of volunteers. “It’s the digital equivalent of building the British Museum in Lego,” the gaming analyst Ed Barton told the BBC. The effort is part of the institution’s Museum of the Future campaign, which seeks to expand its appeal to a younger, digital-savvy demographic. An iPhone app, it seems, is so last year.

From In The Frame
Published online: 23 September 2014

Aldridge—on the couch

Miles Aldridge, Study for 3-D, 2010

For new insights into Miles Aldridge's images of glamorous, airbrushed women on the edge, head to Sims Reed Gallery in London which is showing the London-born photographer's drawings and sketches for the first time (until 3 October). For more revelations, scan the interview between Aldridge and the Italian maverick artist Maurizo Cattelan in the exhibition catalogue. "Well, I think only I could have made these pictures, given that I had this psychedelic father, this rather broken mother, three sisters who are all models, another model for a wife, now ex [the US supermodel Kristen McMenamy] – I guess I have really lived that life of being in the fulcrum of beauty... This is my St. Matthew Passion, these are deeply personal pictures of my life expressed through the medium of women," says Aldridge. And why is fear a factor in his work? "Fear and addictions are great instigators of character. They give depth. Think of Blanche DuBois in 'A Street Car Named Desire', she is fascinating," he quips.

From In The Frame
Published online: 22 September 2014

Kraftwerk bring electric pop to Bernard Arnault's Paris museum

Installation view at Kunstbau 1, 2011, Photo: Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, © Kraftwerk, 2011 Courtesy Sprüth Magers Berlin London

The 1970s electro pop pioneers Kraftwerk are due to play seven nights this November in the long-awaited, striking new Fondation Louis Vuitton museum which opens next month in the Bois de Boulogne district of Paris. A series of eight concerts by Kraftwerk held at Tate Modern last year caused a stampede for tickets among the group's devotees (the band, sometimes labelled the "Electronic Beatles", wowed a black-clad, Modernist, middle-aged audience). The new cloud-like museum, designed by the Canadian architect Frank Gehry, will, as far as we're aware, house a combination of contemporary works owned by LVMH, the parent company of Louis Vuitton, and those belonging to the company chairman Bernard Arnault (the exhibition and curatorial programme is to be announced). Will Mr Arnault dance along to "Autobahn", we wonder?

From In The Frame
Published online: 21 September 2014

Video all-nighter in London

Daniel Canogar, Storming Times Square, 2014

Nightowls roaming the streets of London this evening (20 September) will spot video art dotted around the capital, in the windows of galleries, hotels and auction houses. "Nuit Blanche Video" takes place from 7PM to 7AM, with works on show by Tracey Emin at Lanvin boutique in Mount Street, and Fischli/Weiss at Brown's Hotel and Sigalit Landau at Marlborough Contemporary, both in Albemarle Street. Phillips' gallery in Brook Street will show a video piece by Daniel Canogar (Storming Times Square, 2014). The twelve-hour video art smorgasbord, which includes 29 works, is curated by Yasmine Datnow, Maïa Morgensztern and Marie Shek; the organisers say that the films focus on "the world we live in". For info:

From In The Frame
Published online: 20 September 2014

Victoria (& Albert)'s secret

Military Secret, by James Rigler

A secret space has been revealed at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, but it will only be open until this Sunday, 21 September. Mystery hunters should go to the museum’s Casts Courts, where at the base of the full-size replica of Trajan’s Column from Rome they will find a small door, less than five feet high. This leads into a hidden circular chamber inside the column, where visitors can look up into the hollow core of the plaster cast the size of a factory chimney. Usually locked up tight, this week it is open to display a sculptural installation by the ceramicist James Rigler, as part of the London Design Festival. One curious visitor at a time will be allowed in to see the work, entitled Military Secret. Rigler describes the secret nook, lined with shelves inside that were once used for storage by the museum’s sculpture department, as a “dark corner to get amorous in after the Christmas party”.

From In The Frame
Published online: 18 September 2014

iBook of the Dead

From tomb wall to touchscreen

Don’t you hate it when you find yourself inside an ancient tomb without the appropriate dictionary to translate the hieroglyphs on the walls? Now, those frustrating days are over: there’s an app for that. TombReader, an application created by the software developer Jan Van Gemert at the University of Amsterdam, claims to empower scholars and amateur Indiana Jones fans alike with the ability to translate Egyptian hieroglyphs. Drawing on a database of known and translated hieroglyphic texts and an algorithm built to differentiate among hieroglyphs, the app can identify common words and phrases as well as the cartouches corresponding to individual Pharaohs. The developers are also collaborating with the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam to create a version of that can be used in conjunction with museum collections of Egyptian art. A beta version of the app is available now, with the formal release date set for December.

From In The Frame
Published online: 17 September 2014

Under the Big Top

What a circus

The Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota is returning to its roots in November when it unveils a set of four newly-conserved circus banners designed around 100 years ago by the Belgian artist Frank De Vos. The pieces, which were used in circus advertising campaigns, were heavily used and in poor condition when the collector Howard Tibbals bought them in 1989 (because of the wear and tear, few like them still exist today). A museum conservation team led by Barbara Ramsay spent seven years (2005-12) working on the banners, which will be unveiled to the public on 7 November.

From In The Frame
Published online: 15 September 2014

Polish artist's peckish pieces

June, 2013 Cucumber, celery, fennel, rainbow chard, kale, collard greens, beet greens, dandelion greens, turnip greens, spinach, parsley, ginger, lime juice, and lemon juice on thirty 6 x 6 in paper napkins

The phrase “You are what you eat” takes on new—and slightly nauseating—meaning in the artist Martynka Wawrzyniak’s latest body of work. Every night for one year, the Polish artist used an identical white cloth napkin to wipe her mouth at dinner and then meticulously catalogued the ingredients of each meal. The fruits of this compulsive exercise, which she describes as a self-portrait, are on show at envoy enterprises in New York ("Feed", until 12 October). Wawrzyniak sewed together the 365 soiled napkins in chronological order to create an interlocking, 100-foot-tall walk-in structure that hangs from the gallery ceiling. She also created a limited edition cookbook that pairs a photograph of each napkin with a corresponding list of ingredients for the evening’s meal. “I felt like I was sharing my meals with the public every day and made a conscious effort to be creative in my choice of ingredients,” Wawrzyniak says. “It was like having a daily dinner party.”

From In The Frame
Published online: 14 September 2014

Artists not wanted

Bob and Roberta Smith, Artists Ruin it For Everyone, 2002. Photo: courtesy the artist and Pierogi

Well artists, you had a good run. It’s not easy working in today’s art world, as the artist Bob and Roberta Smith knows. Perhaps that’s why Smith put out a call to colleagues to just give up. “Pack it in,” the artist says in a press release for the forthcoming project Art Amnesty at MoMA MoMA PS1. “Turn in your brushes and video cameras. Hand in your chisels and marble. Bob and Roberta Smith are offering an opportunity for artists to dispose of their artwork… and to retire from making art.” As the artist explains in the release: “Many successful artists have recently voiced embarrassment that their work commands high prices. Artists may also use the opportunity… to expel certain works of art from the art market and demote them to objects unburdened by grand expectations and dashed dreams.” From 2 October, artists can ditch their unwanted works in dumpsters installed in the museum’s courtyard, while those who prefer to have one final show before their art is destroyed can bring it to the main galleries on the second floor. Everyone will also be able to sign a pledge assuring the world that “I Promise Never To Make Art Again” and will receive an official “I Am No Longer An Artist” badge. We’re going to hold some of you out there to that.

From In The Frame
Published online: 12 September 2014

Scotland vs England: battle of the blockbusters

Cloisonné enamel jar and cover with dragons. Metal with cloisonné enamels, Xuande mark and period (1426-1435), Beijing. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Edinburgh’s National Museum of Scotland has pre-empted London’s British Museum twice, by getting in first with exhibitions on the same subject. Battle was joined over the Vikings. The Edinburgh museum presented its Vikings show in spring 2013, with the British Museum following with an entirely separate exhibition early 2014. This year it is China. The Edinburgh museum is well into its exhibition ‘‘Ming: The Golden Empire’’ (until 19 October), whereas the British Museum will open its quite different show, ‘‘Ming: 50 years that changed China’’ on 18 September, which, by chance, is the date of the long awaited Scottish referendum on independence. Although the British Museum is once again in second place, we can perhaps blame a Scotsman—its director Neil MacGregor.

From In The Frame
Published online: 11 September 2014

Meschac Gaba hoists his flag in Berlin

Meschac Gaba Museum of Contemporary African Art in Berlin, 2014 (detail). Photo by Mathias Schormann © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2014

When Deutsche Bank KunstHalle in Berlin decided to show more art from Africa, Asia and the Middle East it turned to Tate Modern in London for a helping hand. The collaboration, which was announced last year, between the Tate and the bank’s art space (Deutsche Guggenheim back in the day) now bears its first fruit. Seven rooms of Meschac Gaba’s sprawling and nomadic 12-room installation Museum of Contemporary African Art, 1997-2002, which the Tate acquired in 2012, are due to be unveiled in the bank’s space on Unter den Linden next week (20 September-16 November). The Benin-born artist has created a flag to commemorate the abridged Museum’s arrival in Berlin complete with a heraldic bear. And Chris Dercon, the director of Tate Modern, is due in the city to give his blessing ahead of its opening and for a talk with the artist in October. Dercon was a witness at the artist’s wedding in 2000, which took place in the Stedelijk in Amsterdam. Memorabilia of the happy day, including the bride's dress, shoes and veil plus the couple's wedding certificate are now preserved by the Tate in The Marriage Room of Gaba's Museum.

From In The Frame
Published online: 10 September 2014

Buy a Koons handbag, help save the world

Everybody loves a good cause, and there is none better than promoting the importance of vaccinations. So we welcome the news that Jeff Koons is to create a new sculpture incorporating luxury handbags donated by the likes of Diane von Furstenberg, Saudi princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz and Princess Caroline of Hanover. The resulting work, which is due to be auctioned in New York on 9 November, will confer upon its lucky buyer the prestige of owning an exclusive work by one of the most celebrated artists of our times that doubles as a stand for his or her new collection of handbags previously owned by royalty. Other lots will consist of further handbags—all customised by Koons—donated by luminaries from the worlds of film, fashion and art, such as the film director Sofia Coppola and the gallerist Almine Ruiz-Picasso. The sale is the first venture of Project Perpetual, which was founded by the Russian collector Svetlana Kuzmicheva-Uspenskaya to support United Nations Foundation programmes.

From In The Frame
Published online: 08 September 2014

Mates' rates

Bernar Venet

The French conceptual artist Bernar Venet has launched his own foundation in the south of France on a four-hectare estate that is one of the art world's best kept secrets. The grounds of Le Muy are dotted with works by artists such as Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt and Frank Stella, who all formed firm friendships with Venet. "I used to exchange works with artist friends in Nice back in the 1960s," says the artist, adding that he did his first major swap with conceptual art trailblazer LeWitt in 1970. “Four years ago Jannis Kounellis had a show in Toulon at the Hotel des Arts. Just before the exhibition ended, I sent him a message suggesting that since he was passing by on his return to Italy, wouldn't it be a good idea to drop off one of his works?” says Venet. If you don't ask, you don't get and Venet bagged a prime Kounellis piece: Untitled, 2005. “I got a positive reply the day after and I sent him one of my works in return,” the canny artist says.

From In The Frame
Published online: 08 September 2014

Olafur, the teenage breakdancing champ, returns to Louisiana

Olafur Eliasson at Louisiana, 2014, photo by Maria Bordorff

Olafur Eliasson’s “Riverbed” is wowing visitors at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Humlebaek (until 4 January 2015), but this is not the first time that the artist has graced the Danish museum. According to the exhibition catalogue, 17-year-old Eliasson appeared there in 1984 in a breakdancing performance linked to the show “New York Graffiti”. He also toured Scandinavia with his teenage posse, the Harlem Gun Crew, and even won a national breakdancing championship, according to the Guardian newspaper. As they say in hip-hop circles: respect.

From In The Frame
Published online: 05 September 2014

Jeff Koons plugs in with Jimmy Page

A pair of showmen

Jeff Koons will get a chance to interview one of his longstanding heroes, Led Zeppelin’s guitarist Jimmy Page, at a sold-out talk on 3 November at the 92nd Street Y. A publicist working with Page confirmed the event, which is a promotion of the musician’s forthcoming “autobiography in photos”, but has not yet offered an explanation for the pairing. Devout Koons fans, however, may recognise that the artist has cited the band as an influence on his work on several occasions. In a 2008 talk at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Koons credited the band with influencing his plans, still unrealised, to dangle a train car from a crane: “On kind of a subconscious level, it’s like a Led Zeppelin stairway to heaven or something.” In 2012, Koons told Interview Russia that he was “very inspired by Led Zeppelin—Jimmy Page and Robert Plant. At 16 I spent hours driving around in the car listening to their songs. I met Plant in person not too long ago and told him, ‘You taught me how to feel.’” He repeated the sentiment more recently in a February talk in LA with the director John Waters and in a television interview with Charlie Rose this summer, when he simply stated “I love Led Zeppelin, Charlie”. Ramble on, Jeff.

From In The Frame
Published online: 03 September 2014

Sears serves up animal art

Kim Sears

Kim Sears hasn’t been available lately to talk about her artistic efforts—painting portraits of pets—possibly because of her other role, which is to sit in the visitors box at tournaments when her boyfriend, the Scottish tennis player Andy Murray, is engaged in a match (the Celtic sportsman recently reached the fourth round of the US Open). During those matches, he looks grim and so does she at times but on her website (, she is all smiles, hugging her border terriers Mayhem and Rascal. She also owns some goldfish, Gary and Gabriella, although it is dogs of all types that dominate the online portfolio pages: cocker spaniels, bulldogs, Labradors, Weimaraners and Jack Russell terriers, as well as the occasional cat and horse. “I view my painting first and foremost as a hobby,” she says online, “which has fortunately grown enough for me to take more seriously.” Between matches, one supposes.

From In The Frame
Published online: 02 September 2014

Animal Farm meets Alice Walton’s museum

Trotters up

If you go down to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in a fortnight’s time, you’ll be able to try out as an understudy for a Napoleonic role. An interactive work inspired by George Orwell’s fable of totalitarianism called Understudy for Animal Farm will be one of the participatory works in the survey show “State of the Art” (13 September-19 January 2015) organised by the museum founded by Walmart heiress, Alice Walton. The Santa Fe-based, Brazilian-born artist Ligia Bouton’s installation invites visitors to choose among the bright and folksy pig’s head hoods, which are made of bed linen, and then pose in front of backdrop of rolling Cornish countryside and a five-bar gate to have their photo taken. There is a sinister twist, however. “As the pigs begin to walk upright and move into the deserted farmhouse, it is the wool plaid and floral chintz of rural England that indicate the pigs’ authority,” Bouton explains in an artist’s statement. “In this way, Orwell creates an unexpected friction between the menacing force of the pigs’ tyrannical rule and the mundane, domestic sphere.” Four legs good, two legs better, as the dystopian slogan goes.

From In The Frame
Published online: 01 September 2014

Gallery takes to the streets, visitors in tow

The street-art gallery Choque Cultural has launched a new project space, Choque-Centro, in old downtown São Paulo. “The area was run down until a few years ago, but now lots of innovative art spaces are blooming,” says Baixo Ribeiro, the gallery’s co-founder. This month, Choque-Centro is offering curator- and artist-guided walking tours, including visits to an installation by Mariana Martins at the Lâmina art space and to Studio Cúpula. “Both places have new approaches to art and the public experience, proposing fusions over food and drink, pocket shows and performances beyond the conventional,” Ribeiro says. J.H.

From In The Frame
Published online: 01 September 2014

Curators attack ‘vain’ work in Niemeyer space

Projeto Gameleira 1971, 2014

An installation by the Brazilian artist Lais Myrrha in Pivô, an artist-run space in São Paulo, has been branded “vain and opportunistic” by curators. The site-specific work, Projeto Gameleira 1971, 2014 (below), is in the Oscar Niemeyer-designed Copan building in downtown São Paulo. It was inspired by another building designed by the architect that caused the death of more than 100 workers when it collapsed during construction in 1971. The curators Lauro Cavalcanti and Pedro Mendes da Rocha, who were in charge of a Niemeyer retrospective at the city’s Itaú Cultural this summer, also criticised Myrrha for “posing glamorously while exploiting these deaths”. The artist says that Niemeyer never made a public declaration about the episode and that her work is a critique of his silence. S.M.

From In The Frame
Published online: 01 September 2014

Brazil and Italy go Camargo crazy to mark artist’s centenary

This year’s centenary of the birth of the Brazilian Expressionist Iberê Camargo (1914-94) has inspired a series of commemorative events. The Fundação Iberê Camargo, which is housed in a building designed by Álvaro Siza Vieira on Porto Alegre’s waterfront, will stage a survey of the artist’s extensive career. The show is due to open in November; its title and closing date were unconfirmed as we went to press. The foundation will also host the premiere of a new documentary about the painter, directed by the Brazilian film-maker Marta Biavaschi, and will launch a new biography of Camargo, published by Cosac Naify. The artist will have three solo shows in Italy next year, at the Museo Marino Marini and the Palazzo Pitti, both in Florence, and the Museo Morandi in Bologna (exhibition titles and dates were unconfirmed as we went to press). A major retrospective of the artist at São Paulo’s Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil closed in July. S.M.

From In The Frame
Published online: 01 September 2014

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