Halloween's must have accessory
Just in time for Halloween, Christie’s last Interieurs sale in Paris boasted a rather improbable item as Lot 490, distinctly different to the sea of ormolou clocks and Neo-Classical candlesticks. For this was a full-scale Nécessaire d’Exorcisme kit, translated as nothing less than a Vampire Killing Kit, a chilling—though conveniently portable!—tool box in the shape of a crucifix, recently discovered in the Midi and dated to the end of the 19th century. This macabre keepsake of another era was estimated at a low €1,500-€2,000 but swept flapping to a soaring €6,875, not least due to busy phone lines across the Channel, as supposedly Hirst’s Murderme collection were the eager underbidders, or should that be undertakers?
What's in a name?
Artist Federico Solmi may create works that every often offend—his 2008 video portrait of the Pope, The Evil Empire, got him “put on trial in his native Italy for obscenity, blasphemy and offense to religion” according to his gallery—but the guy sure knows how to come up with a catchy title. “Douche Bag City”, his current show at Conner Contemporary Art in Washington, DC, centres on his newest work by the same name. Modelled on violent videos games like Grand Theft Auto, the piece satirises Wall Street greed and corruption.
An Arp a day keeps the doctor away
Can art cure diseases? The The Behring Institute for Medical Research in Amsterdam is looking to answer that question with a long-term scientific research project that will study the influence of art on public health. According to the institute, “many studies indicate a positive outcome with regard to the treatment of patients and suggest that art can lead to the reduction of medicines used by patients, the shortening of patients’ stays in hospitals…and the improvement of mental health.” So as part of the experiment, they are calling for “art placebos”, in other words something that can “simulate art: it looks, sounds, feels, or in any other way manifests itself as art but it actually is not art. The placebo is a fake replacement, which is the fundamental non-sequitur in our proposition.” Right. Is it just us, or does this science experiment sounds suspiciously like a set up for a conceptual art project? Medicinally minded artists can submit their proposals by 1 January 2011. More info and details on how to apply are on the institute’s website.
Clark's candid photos unsettle the Swiss
Wherever Larry Clark goes, he makes waves. The US photographer has already kicked up a storm in Paris where under 18s cannot enter his raunchy show at the Musée d'Art Moderne (until 2 January). Two of Clark's photographs featuring a brother and sister have now been withdrawn from an exhibition at the Paul Klee centre in Bern (“Vice and Voluptuousness, the Seven Capital Sins from Dürer to Nauman”, until February 20), along with a watercolour by the late German artist George Grosz which reportedly shows the private parts of two women. "The Paris media scandal affected our decision," says the centre director Juri Steiner. "Removing the Grosz was a curatorial move."
Hot to trot in Paris
The focus moved from Frieze in London to Paris last week with the art crowd thundering across the channel to the French fair Fiac. As well as the fair itself, a major attraction was the opening of Larry Gagosian’s new gallery with a series of parties, one attended by the colourfully shod auctioneer Simon de Pury and his wife Michaela. They celebrate their first wedding anniversary in December and are expecting their first baby on 2 January. Coincidentally (or not), Simon de Pury’s lime-green shoes matched the Cy Twomblys on show at Gagosian which, according to the gallery, were all sold (at prices between $2m and $4m, according to the French press).
Danish don't like (Duplo) dalliance
Employees at the town hall of Roskilde near Copenhagen have apparently taken offence at images, on show in the building, of two men made of Duplo (a Lego-style material) having sex. According to Danish press reports, artist Svend Ahnstrøm’s racy piece, which shows ‘Kurt and Anders’ pleasuring themselves in a public park, has prompted three internal complaints. But no objections have been raised about Duplo depictions of Adolf Hitler and Osama bin Laden. “It’s hard to believe that something like this can offend people in today’s Denmark,” said Ahnstrøm.
Never mind art as an investment, what about a catalogue? Any collectors still in possession of the complete Yves Saint Laurent catalogues from Christie's landmark three-day sale in Paris in February 2009 might be interested to know that the item is currently on offer on ebay for £600. The catalogue already cost a whopping €200 originally (around £180 at the time), but any who invested would now see an increase of 233% after 20 months—probably a more rapid gain than the art sold can yet command.
What a feeling
At the Cartier Award dinner on Thursday night the celebrations took a leg-warmer-esque turn when a handful of art world revellers, including Frieze Projects supremo Sarah McCrory, descended on what they thought was an art soirée—only to discover that they’d inadvertently stumbled upon the launch party for “Flashdance: the Musical”. Watch out for a few nifty dance steps—and the odd leotard—as part of the next Frieze Projects programme.
Taste of leather
At the Hix restaurant at Frieze, Picpus, the single-sheet mini-mag named after the French term for a flea bite, is celebrating its first anniversary with a special edition emblazoned with a portrait of Squadron Leader Arthur Lushington Vipan which is impregnated with a custom-made—and suitably masculine—perfume mingling the smells of leather, tweed and engine oil. Chocs away!
Never mind the booths, veteran pop conceptualist Billy Apple found aesthetic nirvana at Frieze while on a visit to the men’s room. Apple, in London from his native New Zealand for his show at the Mayor Gallery, singled out the “impossibly discreet ‘toilet’ sign” for special attention. “The white lettering on grey is worthy of Lawrence Weiner—or the best work of On Kawara,” he enthused. Neither was he short of a snappy title for these limited edition works: Need /[slash] Relief.
Back from the dead
There were some spooky goings on this week at the fair around the Frieze Project devised by the artist and Fortean Times contributor Jeffrey Vallance, who asked five psychics to channel the spirits of blockbusting artists Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock, Leonardo da Vinci and Marcel Duchamp. Before the mediums—and the artist phantoms—arrived, the spiritualists predicted: “There might be some problems with electricity.” Before you could say Doris Stokes, the internet crashed during the séance, which meant that a live web broadcast had to be scuppered. It was all to do with “forcefields”, apparently.
Ai bites the dust
Ai Weiwei and his army of assistants spent this summer making the 100 million ceramic sunflower seeds that now cover the floor of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall. Soon after it opened, the museum was forced to turn it into a “look, don’t touch” experience, however, after a hasty risk assessment. Instead of walking across the seed bank, you can only appreciate it from above now. The risk of potentially dangerous levels of dust was the cause rather than the light-fingered visitors pocketing the seeds. Those at the private view on Monday who couldn’t resist taking home a souvenir or two may find the value of their snitched seeds grows in rarity, forming a tidy windfall in the future.
Creative lubrication at the Sunday fair courtesy of Ryan’s Bar, where—for £50—punters can choose from a range of artist-originated cocktails, complete with a golden beer mat that doubles as the artist-signed certificate. David Batchelor continues his chromatic obsessions today between 3pm and 4pm with a DIY cocktail called Dorothy, which visitors can mix themselves from a selection of multicoloured single shots. Fiona Banner’s aptly named Punch got the opening night off to a lively start—drinkers were invited to consume unlimited amounts from a constantly-replenished champagne coupe—but only if they wore a pair of boxing gloves while doing so.
Lamb to the slaughter
The art world gathered at the US ambassador’s residence at Winfield House last night to celebrate the new hang for Ambassador and Mrs Susman’s tenure, which includes work by Twombly and Hockney. The ambassador paid tribute to his wife as “my curator, head art adviser and head of acquisitions committee—albeit one that doesn’t report to the finance committee!” Ambassador Susman needed his wife’s artistic acumen when, on learning that Marina Abramovic was present, he strode up to a striking brunette and praised her for her poignant self-portrait cradling a lamb—only to discover that he had somewhat undiplomatically been saluting the sculptor Rebecca Warren, who has no interest in lambs whatsoever.
White hot Hauser
Londoners must have been baffled by the bottlenecks that blighted Savile Row last night as heaving crowds spilled out from Hauser & Wirth’s new space, bringing traffic to a standstill. Everyone who is anyone was caught in a web around Louise Bourgeois’ giant spider sculpture. The throng included the holy trinity of Serota, Spiegler and Slotover—respectively Nicholas, Marc and Matthew. Dealers were sizing up the opposition—size being the operative word in the museum-esque space—including Emmanuel Perrotin and David Zwirner, while a phalanx of regional UK museum bigwigs huddled on the pavement outside, including the Midlands’ Stephen Snoddy and Nigel Prince, Scotland’s Simon Groom and Liverpool’s Christoph Grunenberg. “We only speak to each other when we’re in the capital,” joked Snoddy. Another said that this latest arm of Hauser’s empire “shifted London’s commercial power base back to the West End—it’s like New York’s Chelsea.”
Boris greens up
Mayor Boris Johnson was in quiptastic form yesterday when he visited Frieze to launch the Green visual arts guide—which he said would prove useful in plugging up artists’ leaky garret windows. Referring to Martin Creed’s 2001 Turner Prize winning work, the Mayor praised the Tate for its low emission installations that involved turning the lights on and off… Eyebrows were raised as Boris went past Nan Goldin’s photograph The Goat Burned, Devrolle, Paris, 2008, on Matthew Marks’ stand (C11) and yelped: “Good God! What the hell’s this? What happened to that poor dog?”
Banking on art
More money turning into art over in the gritty environs of the Sunday satellite fair where Limoncello’s Jack Strange has made an abstract spot piece from the circles punched out of individual £5, £10 and £20 bank notes. The value of each of the punctured bills—which are now back in circulation—tots up to £160,145, which is also the work’s title. Apparently Strange wanted to call it £250,000 but in these straitened times, the artist wasn’t able to access such a hefty amount.
The talking point of the House of the Noble Man party was not so much the stellar cast of masters old and new—including Poussin, Gauguin, a group of Picassos, as well as a room full of Warhols—but the fact that the somewhat hollow-eyed curator Wolfe von Lenkiewicz had pulled the entire show together in just eight weeks, and in the face of a few financial wobbles. While rumours were flying that its Nash terrace address was being prepped for sale to an oligarch looking for a London pad—The Art Newspaper grapevine was fizzing with whispers that former US president Bill Clinton has snapped it up.
BM shines light on acquisition
The British Museum normally avoids revealing how much its objects are worth, but it admits that its latest acquisition cost $45. It is a solar-powered lamp and charger, which was chosen as the final item in the BBC’s “History of the the World in 100 Objects”, which will be broadcast on 22 October. Although the museum’s label simply gives the provenance as Shenzhen, China, the logo on the lamp reads “d.light”. The lucky Indian/Silicon Valley company must be “delighted” with the honour—rounding off over a million years of human history. We can only hope that it will come in to sponsor one of the British Museum’s future ventures.
Riding high on the London Eye
A handful of art and champagne lovers became members of the mile high club last night at the very private view of knitwear designer Kate Jenkin's crocheted bottles of fizz and canapes, which were fleetingly exhibited in a capsule on the London Eye. Conceived by Pommery Champagne (who also sponsor Frieze Art Fair) and in association with Rebecca Hossack Gallery, the pop-up gallery was installed in under 60 seconds as bemused guests were ushered into the pod and sent into orbit over the capital's skyline. Needless to say, the champagne flowed as wine and art aficionados swapped tips on the best bars in town and must-see works of art to be sampled at the fair.
Marina channels Marilyn
Despite battling a cold, legendary performista Marina Abramovic was in fine fettle at the opening of her show at the Lisson Gallery, arriving clutching a mysterious, tiny, newspaper-wrapped parcel given to her by a fan. “I’m not opening it, it’s voodoo!” she declared. She then enthused over the photo posing techniques perfected by Marilyn Monroe: “Always stand with one knee bent, it makes your ass look sexy—and never smile, it makes wrinkles, just part your lips and blow,” she advised, while demonstrating both to a rapt audience. Let's hope she performs this arresting Monroesque swagger and pout combo at her sold-out Tate Modern talk on Saturday. For more Frieze gossip, download our daily fair paper
Comedy dog walker
Among the fairground attractions, rope artistes, brass bands and spoon players at the Museum of Everything’s opening gala was comedian Harry Hill, who revealed that he is the owner of the two stuffed pet dogs in the room devoted to the late lamented Potter’s Museum of Taxidermy, having purchased the preserved pooches when the museum was auctioned off a few years ago. Apparently he had wanted to buy some of the bigger beasts—several of which now belong to Sir Peter Blake and Damien Hirst—but was restricted due to size. Hill explained he had to go back on the train: “So I carried one dog under each arm, covered in bubble wrap.”
Making small talk (not whoopee)
The organisers of Club 21 in the former Holy Trinity Church on Marylebone Road may be dedicated to “remaking the scene” of Studio 54 but so far the 21st-century version is proving to be rather more staid. Despite the efforts of Peruvian artist and former diplomat Jota Castro to encourage free sex in the crypt in a thoughtfully provided giant bed (pictured above), patrons last night preferred to chat and chill out rather than canoodle. The only action could be found upstairs in the form of two fans inflating a pair of horizontal sailors hovering halfway up a pair of erect tree trunks by Alexander Ponomarev. There was also considerable enthusiasm for a series of experimental music sessions courtesy of former lounge lizard Steve Piccolo. Maybe later in the week the bed will see some Studio 54-esque flirtatiousness.
Battle of the bashes
Vying for the position of London’s coolest pre-Frieze hotspot, rivals Haunch of Venison and the newly-minted Blain Southern—set up by Haunch's founders and former directors Harry Blain and Graham Southern—both opened their doors to revellers last night. Guests spotted at BlainSouthern included Hollywood hottie James Franco (or his doppelgänger). Their Mat Collishaw show included videos of pole-dancers and flaming orchids set in Gothic altarpiece-style frames which set pulses racing although there was no alcohol to inflame the senses, so the artist soon sought solace in the Duke of York’s across the road. Meanwhile, over at Haunch, the vodka cocktails were flowing as were the mini-hamburgers. The gallery was showing exhibitions by three London artists as well as Tom Wesselmann and Keith Coventry. So who won? One London dealer, who attended both, said: “Are you kidding? We are stuffing our faces and looking at major Wesselmann works. Haunch have rolled out the heavy artillery!” For more Frieze gossip, download our daily fair paper
A little birdie told us...
The Art Newspaper begins its daily coverage of the Frieze Art Fair in London this week, and as part of our on-the-ground reporting, we'll be live tweeting from the fair, starting from Tuesday's installation day. Every day, a staff reporter will be taking over tweeting duties and offering their view of the art on view, special projects and related events. You can follow our updates on our twitter feed, as well as on our website. We'll also be sharing some of your tweets during the day, so if you see anything interesting let us know on twitter or tag your post with "#FAF10".
Remembering John Lennon
As fans celebrate what would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday this Saturday 9 October, his widow, artist Yoko Ono, will be in Iceland lighting the Imagine Peace Tower, a beam of light projected vertically from a wishing well in Reykjavik. She has also asked people to tweet one million wishes for peace on the day in memory of Lennon, who she says would probably "still be an activist" if he were alive. Meanwhile in New York's Central Park, hundreds are expected to gather around the Imagine Memorial to celebrate the musician's life, and a documentary by Michael Epstein, "Lennonyc", is being screened for free.
Public speaking goes mobile
London has it's Speaker's Corner, but now New Yorkers will have the chance to get on the proverbial soapbox through an art installation going up in Tompkins Square Park on Friday. Looking like an ordinary city street sign, The Urban Speaker allows people to broadcast their views to the public by simply calling a telephone number using their mobile phones. Users can "speak their mind for 60 seconds after which the call is terminated" says artist Carlos J. Gómez de Llarena. The work is part of the Conflux 2010 festival of psycho-geography and will be up just for the day, from so get your message to the masses ready.
Living in glass houses
Two modernist architectural icons—Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and Philip Johnson’s Glass House—are the focus of a film screening and auction at Sotheby’s tonight organized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to benefit conservation efforts for both landmarks. The trust has secured 100 artists, architects and designers such as Tadao Ando, Zaha Hadid, Claes Oldenburg + Coosje van Bruggen, Ed Ruscha, James Rosenquist, and Frank Stella to donate works inspired by these buildings, which go up for sale tonight. But before the auction, artist Sarah Morris is premiering her new film “Points on a Line” about the historic homes.
There's Something About Mauro
Italian artist Mauro Perucchetti sounds like a colourful character. A major exhibition of around 20 striking new works by the 60-year-old opens at Halcyon Gallery in London on 8 October, with sculptures moulded from coloured polyurethane resin, gold leaf, Swarovski crystals and marble. The work Trojan Horse depicts six one-foot-high gold leaf horses in the style of the Terracotta Army bearing naked Chinese girls made from resin. "This sculpture alludes to the seduction of successful CEOs in the west by girls from the east in order to discover trade secrets. It is also a reference to the debilitating computer virus," says a cheeky press statement. A life-size marble sculpture of Batman and Superman takes as its inspiration a motif from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel while the jauntily titled There's Something About Mary shows a Virgin Mary-esque figure draped in chainmail (standing in what looks like a deserted car park). "It took a brush with death for him to embrace his true calling in life and he is overwhelmingly non judgmental in his outlook on society. His life story is extraordinary – he has acted in movies with Elizabeth Taylor and Andy Warhol," notes the press blurb.
Ruskin on penguins
Today's bit of obscure art trivia comes from the wonderful twitter feed for British quiz show QI, hosted by erudite wit Stephen Fry. Meditating on the cheer inducing qualities of the penguin, the show's research elves shared this golden nugget of a quote from legendary 19th-century art critic John Ruskin: "I find Penguins at present the only comfort in life. One feels everything in the world so sympathetically ridiculous; one can’t be angry when one looks at a Penguin." So true, John, so true.
Marina's life and death in Manchester
The Manchester International Festival once again embraces performance art's greatest grande dame with the premiere of The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic next July at the Lowry Theatre. Produced in collaboration with Teatro Real Madrid, the new work will feature episodes from Abramovic’s colourful life and career, from scenes of her Serbian childhood to her headline-hitting work as a performance artist since the 1960s (with songs written and performed by Antony of Antony and the Johnsons, and an appearance from actor Willem Dafoe to boot). Abramovic recently revealed to The Art Newspaper the challenge she faces playing her own mother in the Manchester-bound piece. But at least the experience won't be as full-on as her live art marathon at New York's MoMA earlier this year when visitors were invited to sit opposite Marina and gaze into her face. "I looked into over 1,650 pairs of eyes," she explained. Manchester International Festival 2011 will take place from 30 June-17 July.