The Allure of the Beard
Those mad about moustaches should head to the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra which hosts an exhibition on the hirsute subject of facial hair. Jo's Mo Show (with Beards), until 1 April 2012, examines how the beards, taches and sideburns depicted in portraits from 1788 to the 1980s reflected social and cultural trends. "Women's fashions changed so dramatically between, say, 1800 and 1900. With blokes, the clothing is less of a clue, in which case facial hair becomes a really useful gauge," curator Joanna Gilmour told The Australian. The show includes works by artists such as George Lambert and Lionel Lindsay, as well as photographers Julia Margaret Cameron, Harold Cazneaux and Max Dupain.
Boston ICA: Come fly with me
The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston held the bash to end all bashes on Friday night, with a gala dinner marking the 75th anniversary of the waterfront institution. Over 700 well-heeled guests rolled up to the ICA to find themselves shepherded into a fleet of trolleys bound for a secret destination. This mystery location set tongues wagging as the buses trundled slowly towards their final stop: Logan international airport where the guests made their way towards the dining area, a huge aircraft hangar complete with a gargantuan Delta jumbo jet emblazoned with the ICA letters. Evening highlights included the presentation of an honorary award to the veteran Boston dealer Barbara Krakow who cheekily accepted her prize in the style of an Academy Award winner.
Cattelan's marketing magic
For an artist who says he's going to retire from the art world, Maurizio Cattelan sure isn't shying away from the press yet. An interview in New York magazine, published in connection with the art prankster's first retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum, is full of self-deprecating jokes and sly promotion of his continuing projects, including sneak peaks from the upcoming issue of his Toilet Paper magazine. A snappy online slideshow of his works was a popular link last month and was even shared on the Guggenheim's Facebook page. Whatever you think of Cattelan's dark humoured art (a self-portrait with clothespins captioned by the artist as: “My beauty secret. Why spend a fortune on expensive cremes and potions!” drew some titters in The Art Newspaper offices), you can't denigrate his marketing sense.
The Queen down under
What Royal visit is complete without a trip to the museums? Britain's Queen Elizabeth II rounded out her 11-day official visit to Australia today with a stop at the Ian Potter Centre in Melbourne, where she met with aboriginal artists Mulyatingki Marney (second from left), Muntararr Rosie Williams (second from right) and Jakayu Biljabutour. Wearing a shocking pink frock, Her Majesty matched nicely with the artists' vibrant dot paintings.
Franco's further adventures in art
James Franco's art career keeps on growing, despite the dubious reception of his Museum of Non-Visible Art. The actor turned performance artist is now pairing up with Laurel Nakadate—known for her own bizarre performances that include visiting the homes of strange men to sing and dance, and documenting her daily weeping sessions for an entire year— to present a new work commissioned by the Performa festival and Paddle8 website on 13 November. Three Performances in Search of Tennessee is based on the playwright's 1944 classic, The Glass Menagerie, but will feature "a séance and karaoke-style auditions" according to the press release. "In part one, Nakadate and Franco will lead a séance with an invited group of special guests to communicate with Tennessee Williams through a Ouija board and receive instructions from the author’s spirit. The group will pass his message on to the audience members, who will follow the spirit’s instructions." Parts two and three will comprise the karaoke auditions for the male and female leads, with Nakadate and Franco serving as "directors". Those that can't make it in person can watch the antics online.
Damien puts his own spin on cider brandy
Damien Hirst's art pops up in the unlikeliest of places and his latest venture is no exception. The cheeky Brit has designed a spin painting-style label and box for Somerset Cider Brandy, produced at Burrow Hill cider farm, near Kingsbury Episcopi. The man behind the brandy, Julian Temperley, told local press: “Ten years ago Damien Hirst promised [his daughter and fashion designer] Alice that he would do a label for us and the matter was duly forgotten about. Then at her fashion show this year she reminded him of his promise and the box is the result and we are using it to celebrate the PGI" (the product has just bagged Protected Geographical Indication status). The special edition bottles (500 in total) cost £85 each.
Artists were out in force on Monday night at a retrospective of works by George Condo, the veteran US practitioner and artists' artist, at London's Hayward Gallery (until 8 January 2012). Mark Wallinger, Mat Collishaw and Martin Creed were among the luminaries poring over Condo's droll, disquieting creations (rapper Kanye West, who has collaborated with Condo, apparently rolled up later on). But the most imposing figures turned out to be two burly security men who flanked George, graciously guarding him from the small (but select) Condo-admiring crowd.
Versailles will stay contemporary, promises Pégard
The controversial new head of the Palace of Versailles outside Paris, Catherine Pégard, says that the contemporary art programme initiated at the 17th-century site by the outgoing director Jean-Jacques Aillagon will continue, according to the French web publication Le Quotidien de l'Art. "I will not be drawn into an argument about classic and modern art! It's an unfounded debate," she says. "The issue of contemporary art [at Versailles] was determined by Louis XIV who made the chateau into a creative centre. These [contemporary] shows have raised the profile of the site. It's a question of balance. We have to respect both the modernity and tradition [of Versailles]." Watch this space.
What can you learn about an artist from their personal cocktail recipe? There are some revealingly creative concoctions to be swigged at Bryan’s Bar at the Sunday art fair. Why are we not surprised that wunderkind Haroon Mirza, who won the Silver Lion at this year’s Venice Biennale and is now showing at Camden Arts Centre, goes for the rigorously investigative “Ultimate Test”, consisting of a 50/50 Coca-Cola/Pepsi mix with ice? We’re not sure who Cory Arcangel is referring to with his “Upwardly Mobile Yet Shiftless” brew of dark rum and Coke Zero, but Jonathan Monk’s restorative-sounding “Bloody Gin and Tonic Mary” is exactly what it says.
Pain in the pocket
The small but spirited cluster of picketers protesting outside Sotheby’s in solidarity with the 43 locked-out New York art handlers resulted in the security staff at the door of Thursday’s swanky contemporary art evening sale imposing ultra-rigorous checks on the intake to prevent any interruptions to proceedings. Some of the attendees regarded the strict searching with mild mystification—although, on being handed a leaflet declaring “Sotheby’s Creates Misery”, one potential bidder was heard to concur that “it certainly doesn’t make my bank account too happy”.
Ready to rumble
Never mind the rumble in the jungle: now we have the punch-up in the park, with yesterday’s broadcast by Peckham-based collective LuckyPDF TV (Frieze Projects, P2) erupting into a fist-flying showdown between the man-mountain that is “Tiny Iron”, who modestly describes himself as “Half Man, Half Amazing”, and “The Dark Entity Known as RAGE”. The pair came face to face in the LuckyPDF studio to promote their forthcoming bout at the Harlow Playhouse on Sunday, Sunday, Sunday 23 October, but appeared to break out of the stand and rampage through the aisles, wreaking particular havoc on the Ancient and Modern (R5) and Hunt Kastner (R6) stands in the Frame section. Truth or partial fiction? Judge for yourself by viewing the entire broadcast at www.luckypdf.com
Let’s get it on
Yesterday, we told you there wasn’t a lot of sexually explicit work at Frieze. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t any. One of the first things you see upon entering the fair is a giant, pink, decidedly phallic Franz West at Gagosian (pictured, D8). Sometimes a West is just a West, but there are more explicit examples. An Urs Fischer screenprint lining the outside wall of Sadie Coles’s booth (C14) features a woman fellating a man. Across from Andra Ursuta’s sculpture of a prone female body covered with semen at Ramiken Crucible (R15) are drawings by Judith Bernstein at the Los Angeles gallery The Box (R17), run by Mara McCarthy. Nearly every one of Bernstein’s drawings—some of which date from the 1960s (and one owned by her artist father Paul McCarthy)—features the male member. “I’m an old pro with the penis,” she said. “There are never enough penises in the show.”
From Stephen Fry’s gushing, ode-to-Steve-Jobs review of the iPhone 4S in the Guardian recently, you’d think there is nothing the machine can’t do. Think again. At Moscow gallery XL’s booth (D1), LED sculptures by artists Aristarkh Chernyshev and Alexei Shulgin contain invisible messages viewable through the lens of a digital or mobile phone camera. But there’s a hitch. A sign notifies: “Sorry, iPhones 4 (and up)… wouldn’t see messages due to infrared filters.” For all you iPhone 4 users out there, the invisible messages say things like “error”, “access denied” and “invalid code”, all messages that, as gallery associate Sergei Khripun puts it, “show up when computers crash, but that can also be read as life issues”.
Twice as nice
Cutting a glamorous dash at the fair yesterday was London collector and art patron Valeria Napoleone, who was vividly co-ordinated with her identical twin sister Stefania Pramma, a New York-based fashion designer. They were a matching sartorial symphony of Issey Miyake pleats and Prada platforms. “We thought it might be a bit too much,” declared Mrs Napoleone. “But ‘too much’ is not a phrase we like to use very often!” declared her sibling Stefania—certainly, here it seems that excess is best.
Hello again, Elle
It may have been less of a crush on the opening day than in previous years but there was still celebrity stardust to be spotted, including supermodel, lingerie entrepreneur and perennial fair attendee Elle Macpherson, who was taking an especially keen interest in the Keith Haring door on Galerie Meyer Kainer’s stand (G10).
Otero's artistic feet
Often at Frieze, what is outside the booths is just as interesting as what is in them. Case in point: the shoes of Puerto Rico-born artist Angel Otero, embellished with gold-plated spikes. Standing at the stand of his gallery, Lehmann Maupin (F16), the artist told us he had simply bought an ordinary pair of black men’s dress shoes on New York’s St Marks Street and pounded the spikes into them just before Frieze. When we suggested he go into fashion as a sideline, Otero laughed, and then admitted, gesturing down the aisle, “Valentino was right there. I was trying to see if he saw them.”
In two words, how would you describe the scene around Christian Jankowski’s luxury-yacht-as-art (P5)? We asked around at Bortolami, the New York gallery whose booth (F15) is directly in front of the project. “It’s a dude magnet,” said gallery associate Christine Messineo. Indeed, stand long enough around the boat and you’ll see clusters of men hovering around it, as their wives, as often as not, drift over to Bortolami.
Michael Landy’s credit card chomping machine on Thomas Dane’s stand (F17) is a bold inclusion by the fair in these straitened times, but the spectre of more credit crunching has not deterred visitors from flocking to have their plastic exchanged for a freeform mechanical drawing signed by the artist. Among those succumbing to the alchemy of art have been British culture minister Ed Vaizey and Tate Liverpool’s director of exhibitions Gavin Delahunty—thank goodness it’s still possible to write a cheque.
In 1969, John and Yoko had their peace-loving “bed in”; in the early 1990s, Tracey Emin held court in a specially decorated bed in the Chelsea Hotel; and now it is the turn of Sarah Lucas. For Frieze week, the artist has taken up residence in her friend Fergus Henderson’s St John Hotel in London’s Chinatown, where—depending on her mood and the time of day—she will be receiving visitors in her bedroom, and also the bar, surrounded by her suspended sculptures fashioned from buckets, garden furniture and tights, suggestively stuffed with kapok fibre. “I like to be a bit ad hoc,” says Lucas, who will be making as well as displaying work, “and it’s a good way to see people—everyone is welcome, provided they buy the drinks!”
Strong stuff at the IOC
Despite a series of wry one-liners from Adrian Searle, the Guardian’s chief art critic (who noted that Damien Hirst’s photographic self-portrait With Dead Head, 1981-91, wasn’t as shocking as the shark or the prices), there was more consensus than debate at last week’s Index on Censorship (IOC) event focusing on art. Searle titillated the audience at Farringdon’s Free Word Centre with references to Santiago Sierra’s “Los Penetrados”, 2008 (a film of groups of people having anal sex in public), before Justine Simons, the mayor of London’s head of cultural policy, confirmed that ex-mayor Ken Livingstone’s “war on pigeons” was behind Thomas Schütte’s decision to jettison Hotel for the Birds, the original moniker of his 2007 installation for the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square. Talk about ruffling feathers....
Zaha rattles the tin for the ICA
In these cash-strapped times, museums and galleries must think of novel ways to make the public dig deep. And what could be more enticing than a donations box based on a mother and child by the high-profile, London-based architect Zaha Hadid? This striking creation sits in the foyer of the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London and is apparently bringing in the pennies as we speak....
Gwyneth on song at Arts Club revamp
The Duke of Edinburgh, 90, patron of The Arts Club in London, opened the newly refurbished club on Wednesday night flanked by the glamorous film stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz, both in mini LBDs. After a swanky dinner made up of home-smoked Scotch salmon and gorgonzola and walnut salad - during which HRH unveiled a plaque, quipping that it was more like “undressing” it - everyone headed for the basement nightclub where Paltrow took to the stage, singing three numbers (the Shakespeare in Love star cheekily emphasised “f*** you” in one song's lyrics. “Sorry about the bad language,” she said afterwards). HRH, settled comfortably in a booth at the back, seemed unperturbed, but slipped out discreetly on the dot of 10h30. The club's new owners, including venture capitalist Arjun Waney, have spent £3m on art for the revamped venue, with works on show by George Condo, Albert Oehlen, John Baldessari, Tomás Saraceno and Allan McCollum.
Gerhard Richter has dismissed suggestions that his early Dresden mural, The Joy of Life, should be uncovered. Painted in 1956 in the foyer of the German Hygiene Museum, it was hidden beneath white overpaint in 1979 after the artist had fled to the West and was critical of the communist regime. “The mural was just a student work,” Richter said on the eve of his Tate retrospective. On asked whether now was the time to uncover it, the artist told us “no, of course not”. Tate curator Mark Godfrey then jokingly suggested that it should be partially revealed, in the manner of Richter’s “squeegee” paintings with their layers of paint. The artist shook his head, giving a very definitive “no, no”. “Gerhard Richter: Panorama” is at Tate Modern, 6 October-8 January 2012, and then at the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. See also Cold War cover-up to continue