Koons' gay bunnies for NYT
Just in time for Easter, Jeff Koons has shot a sweet photo series featuring bunnies, kittens and downy-headed chicks for this Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. But like most of his work, the kitschy cute exterior covers a subversive side, as the images illustrate an article that raises the question: “Can Animals be Gay?” While the photo spread seems to be the extent of Koons' involvement in the article, which takes a more scientific approach to the evidence of homosexuality in animals, there is one line at the end that falls right in line with his sense of humour. Describing the hatching of a chick raised by a monogamous pair of female albatross, called Lola by the local tourist board, the article also report that the shortlist of names included Rainbow, Lady Gagabatross and Ellen.
Free art—for a price
Paying millions for overhyped art is so 2008. Following the trend of guerrilla-style art fairs that sell works at dollar-store prices, Tokyo is taking it one step further this weekend with the Art Fair Free where works of art cannot be bought with money. Interested collectors can contact artists by email and offer “something”—an action or object, anything that isn’t cold, hard cash—in exchange for their work, and artists choose what they view as the best offer. But while the artists may have noble intentions, it seems the organisers have a more flexible idea of the word "free", as it turns out the fair isn’t completely gratis and it costs ¥1000 ($10.75) to get in. Even the "free" party on 4 April, when the final sales will be announced, requires a ticket.
The bidding starts at… Anyone? Anyone?
Who didn’t want to be Ferris Bueller in the 80s? Fans have the opportunity to at least ride in style like the loveable prankster, with the replica Ferrari racecar built for the cult classic film going up for auction with Bonhams. Estimated at £30,000-40,000, the car is included in Bonhams’ Motor Cars and Automobilia auction on 19 April at the RAF Museum, Hendon. Potential buyers might just want to make sure they don’t have their own teenage troublemakers at home, of the following scene may become all too familiar:
Cameron: The 1961 Ferrari 250GT California. Less than a hundred were made. My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love, it is his passion.
Ferris: It is his fault he didn't lock the garage.
La Rue at the V&A
It’s sequins and high campery over at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which is in discussions to acquire five costumes by the legendary late UK performer Danny La Rue, best known for his over-the-top pantomime dame roles. The glitzy garments include a costume designed by Tim Goodchild for the 1984 West End stage version of Hello Dolly, a Mae West ensemble and two of the pantomime outfits worn in the title role of Mother Goose at Theatre Royal Plymouth in 1983. The museum hopes to display the costumes in the future, confirmed a spokeswoman.
Rafael rejected by the Welsh
Will Wales ever embrace contemporary art? A Welsh town has rejected a planned major public work after 5,000 people signed a petition in protest, according to local press reports. The £400,000 Turbulence project by Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer was set to fill the River Teifi in Cardigan with 127 buoys fitted with LED light sources. Microphones along the quayside would have recorded the voices of passers-by, setting off the lights. But local opposition has helped scupper the five-year venture which was initiated by Channel 4, Arts Council England and the Art Fund.
Morrissey cries "Off with Hirst's head!"
Moody crooner Morrissey is not one to hold back on his personal or political views, and he recently let his wry ire fly against art star Damien Hirst. In a Q+A with artist and fellow Mancunian Linder Sterling published in Interview magazine this month, the vegetarian singer asks: “I dislike the 'use' of animals in art, such as in the work of Damien Hirst…Do you agree that Hirst’s head should be kept in a bag for the way he’s utilized—and sold—dead animals?” To which Linder offers the penetrating reply: “How many halved calves suspended in formaldehyde does the world need? To my way of thinking, none.”
One of the most erudite texts ever seen in an exhibition catalogue comes courtesy of South African artist Marlene Dumas who has published a letter to her dealer David Zwirner. The text, which marks a show of the artist’s works at the eponymous New York gallery (until 24 April), provides an incisive insight into Dumas’s philosophy with snippets such as: “Dear David, I’ve been trying to write to you about ‘the why’ of my paintings. Write it clearly so that it is not only my sentimental story, but something that is similar to a public statement, but the more I try, the more I get tangled up in places I don’t want to go… I often open books, at random to see if there’s a message for me. Still do. Now too... Never liked architecture. Never thought I would bother to ever paint concrete slabs! Never wanted or could draw mechanical straight lines.”
Mario alla Michelangelo
Are Mario and Princess Peach the new symbols for selfless love and innocence? For Polish artist Kordian Lewandowski they just might be in his remix of Michelangelo’s Pieta. Made not of marble but of polystyrene foam, Lewandowski has used the Nintendo characters to reinterpret the famous work for a contemporary audience, and it’s nerd-approved. The piece, titled Game Over (guess Mario couldn't find a green mushroom in time), features two of the videogame’s central characters in the same pose as Michelangelo’s Mary holding the body of Jesus, and was made with the grace and delicacy of a chainsaw and later refined with smaller tools. While it may never be seriously compared with Michelangelo’s masterpiece, it will certainly become part of the Gamer’s Canon, and, being made of Styrofoam, may even last longer than the original.
Artist Horsley's hijinks on stage
Outlandish artist Sebastian Horsley, who underwent a crucifixion in the Philippines in 2000, is bringing his colourful life story to the stage. The "Dandy in the Underworld" stage extravaganza, written by Tim Fountain, begins at Soho Theatre, London, on 7 June. "And it will then transfer to Broadway. Ealing Broadway," quips Horsley. "God knows who will play me. They will try for Johnny Depp and end up with Bruce Forsyth no doubt." A concurrent exhibition is set to open in an as yet undecided venue.
Taking a liking to Kelley
A 66-year-old from Vicenza expressed surprise when he was seen on a security camera removing a work from Mike Kelley’s light installation “Kandor’s Full Set” at Francois Pinault’s Venice gallery, Punta della Dogana. According to our sister paper Il Giornale dell’Arte, the over-enthusiastic visitor, who described himself as an “artist and art critic’, said the light-fingered episode was a “most unfortunate incident”.
Tinie does Ofili at Tate
Tate Britain got all hip hop yesterday when London rapper Tinie Tempah performed among the Hockneys and Turners. Tinie is currenly numero due in the UK singles charts with Pass Out. To get Tinie's take on the Chris Ofili exhibition at Millbank (until 16 May), go to http://channel.tate.org.uk/media/69451326001
Pharrell on war (and his new chair)
US record producer Pharrell Williams is not just a hip hop supremo; the dapper rap star is fast becoming an art world fixture, co-producing a blingtastic oyster shell-like piece (The Simple Things) last year with Japanese superstar artist Takashi Murakami. Pharrell is also a dab hand at furniture design, launching a new chair at the Emmanuel Perrotin Gallery in Paris (by appointment from 30 March). This particular objet d'art, entitled The Tank, is based on the theme of war. Pharrell's accompanying poem, from which we feel duty bound to publish an excerpt:
I’m standing in the mirror...Shadow boxing...Kicking ass....And I thought, how laughable the macho version of me...Ha...But could I be?..."Then what must it be like to be young and serve?"..."What if you couldn’t pay your tuition?"... "What if it is simply family tradition?"..."What if you thought it was the right thing to do?"...If we would spend "love" and "time" like we do "money", we’d never go broke...But then again who am I trying to fool or what am I trying to fix? I’m just a guy in the mirror trying to imagine what it must feel like to be young....headed into war...I’m sorry, how rude of me...I’ve left you standing...I’m sorry, please do...Have a seat.—Pharrell Williams
Marina live online
A surprise bonus comes with the opening of Marina Abramovic’s retrospective at MoMA yesterday. Despite early questions about the difficulty of streaming the performance online, the museum has set up a live-feed of the work, in which members of the public are invited to go head to head in an endurance test with the artist. On MoMA’s blog, Associate Media Producer David Hart, reveals the hurdles that had to be overcome to even make the video possible, including his own reservations which led him to “whine and rant like a toddler”. (We’ve been there too Dave.) In the end, he asks his online audience the same question many have asked about Abramovic’s own work, about grueling performances and art in general: is it crazy or is it brave?
Beat-boxing about Burton at MoMA
MoMA’s PopRally events, a grab-bag series mixing comedy, music, film and art, are some of the most entertaining programmes organised by the august institution, and Sunday night’s “Burtonalia” show was no exception. Inspired by the current exhibition of drawings, paintings and sculptures by the darkly comic filmmaker Tim Burton, the evening featured a spontaneous collection of performances, including comedians doing shtick based on the spooky director’s oeuvre and a five-piece band improvising suitably cacophonic compositions to accompany a slideshow of his drawings. One of the highlights was seeing a pair of Super 8 films produced by and starring a teenaged Tim, which revealed the precocious talent of the Alice in Wonderland director before he had recourse to CGI. But the real show stopper was the always phenomenal beat-boxer and absurdist comedian Reggie Watts, who creates densely layered tracks live on stage using just a pocket-sized loop machine and exhorted MoMA to keep finding the budget for such events in the future.
SFMOMA's creative confections
The prize for most creative café offerings goes to SFMOMA, where visitors can stop off at its Rooftop Coffee Bar to sample some of its artist-themed pastries. Treats include a cunningly composed Mondrian Cake with striking blocks of red, blue and yellow separated by lines of chocolate ganache, and a suitably bling Jeff Koons White Hot Chocolate sprinkled with gold leaf and served in a baroque gilded cup and saucer. Now if only they delivered…
Via Laughing Squid
The illustrious Sir Norman Rosenthal, former exhibitions secretary at London's Royal Academy (RA), has revealed that his Spanish father-in-law mistook Marcus Harvey's infamous image of Moors Murderer Myra Hindley (a portrait created from the handprints of children, shown in the RA's "Sensation" exhibition of 1997) for the late Princess Diana. Sir Norman's intriguing aside over the controversial show—which inflamed ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani when it travelled to the Brooklyn Museum of Art in 1999—came during an entertaining "in conversation" last week at the Guggenheim in New York with the newly appointed director of LA MOCA, Jeffrey Deitch.
Name that painting
Have art historical references become the new brand-name-dropping? First rapper Jay-Z stuffed the video for his recent hit “On to the Next One” with art star shout-outs, including a black diamond encrusted skull suspiciously similar to Hirst's. Now, French-American hipster band Hold Your Horses send us on a musical art history tour with their new release “70 Million”. While playing a catchy tune, the group recreates famous paintings from Leonardo’s Last Supper to Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, with stops in between to visit Salome and St John, Magritte and Mondrian. See how many arty allusions you can spot. Our favourite? Perhaps the Brady Bunch-esque screen of the entire band dolled up as Warhol’s Marilyns.
70 Million by Hold Your Horses ! from L'Ogre on Vimeo.
Valley girl makes good
Visitors to the Armory have been stopped in their tracks by a buff bronze Adonis chomping on a cigar on White Cube’s stand (P94/901), with rippling biceps, tattoos galore—and prominent pudenda. The transgendered statue by Marc Quinn (Buck with Cigar, 2009) is modelled on none other than the porn performer and activist Buck Angel, born a woman in Los Angeles. The striking work (an edition of three), is already on hold and will be included in Quinn’s upcoming show at the London gallery’s Hoxton Square space in May, which will feature other surgically transformed figures. Alongside Buck will be Allanah, his male-to-female counterpart caught in flagrante, and a doubly buxom Pamela Anderson, cast as a Siamese twin attached to her own hip.
The audience of the inaugural Robert Rosenblum lecture at the Guggenheim on Wednesday enjoyed the sparkling repartee of Norman Rosenthal and Jeffrey Deitch as they reminisced about their friend, the late scholar-curator, who expanded the art history canon to include academic kitsch such as Jean-Léon Gérôme’s painting of a pooch wearing a pinc-nez, Optician, 1902. At the end of the evening, questions were invited from the floor. Disregarding the debate about today’s “recessional aesthetics” or art as an “inter-generational investment”, the first questioner picked up the Gérôme reference and requested career advice for her artistic son who had just been diagnosed as colour blind. Rosenthal reassured the anxious art-mom that an ophthalmic challenge didn’t hurt Monet’s art—so the kid could go far. For more Armory week gossip, see our daily edition: www.theartnewspaper.com/fairs
Invasion of the bodywatchers
It’s a bird, it’s a plane… no, it’s Antony Gormley, times 31. New York’s skyline is about to be invaded by the same lifesize bronze casts of the British artist that caused no little alarm when they were installed atop rooftops all around London’s South Bank in 2007. Although "Event Horizon", the NYC Redux version, is not scheduled to go live until 26 March, a few of Gormley’s sentinels will be installed early on 10 March around the Madison Square park area, with a view to eventually inhabiting vertiginous vantage points and eye-popping eyries high above street level, on the Flatiron and Empire State buildings among others. A similar dry-run in London precipitated numerous calls to the emergency services with panicked members of the public believing these men to be on the verge of jumping from their precipitous perches. Gormley wants these daredevils to live on the edge, saying that “My intention is to get the sculptures as close to the edge of the buildings as possible.” Look up—just don’t look down.
Shaq’s in the paint
Legendary basketball star Shaquille O’Neal has scored a slam-dunk in the art world with his self-curated, self-referential exhibition “Size DOES Matter”, now at the Flag Art Foundation on West 25th Street. The Cleveland Cavaliers giant loomed large at a special viewing on Tuesday night of his selection of (comparatively) vertically challenged works. At the smaller end of the scale was Willard Wigan’s effigy of the big baller in the eye of a needle—viewable only under a microscope. Larger than life for most of us was the full-length pop portrait of the man mountain specially commissioned from his favourite artist, Peter Max (above with Shaq). When asked whether he’d thought of an artistic nickname, O’Neal said: “How about Shaqasso?” For more Armory week gossip, see our daily edition: www.theartnewspaper.com/fairs
Koons takes his time
Jeff Koons is known for his perfectionism so it comes as no surprise that on Monday, certain key journalists were apparently unable to preview his selection of works drawn from the collection of Greek tycoon Dakis Joannou at the New Museum on the Bowery. Jeff was no doubt putting the exquisite finishing touches to his headline-hitting show, taking curating to the wire.
For more Armory week gossip, see our daily edition: www.theartnewspaper.com/fairs
The Elton and Gary shower saga
UK singer Elton John's plans for an in situ piece designed by Brit artist Gary Hume for a shower room at home did not, at first, proceed smoothly. The rock star commissioned the artist to design a work specially for his wet room, but Hume told UK newspaper The Independent: "I said to him, 'of course, what a nice idea,' but inside I was thinking: 'Are you f****** mad? Of course I don't want to make anything for your shower. How insulting!' After that, every time I saw him he would say, 'how's the shower piece going?' and I'd say, 'fine.' Then, after about two years, he said: 'Look, Gary, what's happening?' So I said that I didn't want to do it after all. So he said: 'Well, why don't you get a can of spray paint, write, 'Elton's a c***' in my shower, and I'll buy it.'" Hume made a William Blake-esque work for Elton in the end—but still wrote the aforementioned swear word on the back.