A 21st-century Grand Tour
As if it weren’t enough that Google lets you visit international museums from your laptop or iPad via their Art Project platform, they have now announced that you can tramp through some of Europe’s most famous historic sites using their Street View application on Google Maps. “We’ve been busy pedaling the Street View trike around the nooks and crannies of storied sites in Europe, including palaces, monuments and castles,” the search engine giant writes in its official blog. “In addition to seeing the exterior of archaeological sites like the Imperial Forum and the Colosseum in Rome, you can now explore inside the Colosseum and imagine yourself viewing naumachiae—simulated sea battles for which the Colosseum was filled with water—or speaking with statesmen inside the Imperial Forum.” Other sites that have received the Google treatment include the Baths of Diocletian, the Santa Maria del Fiore and Ponte Vecchio in Florence and the Château d'Fontainebleau in France.
Outset has designs on the V&A
A plethora of high-profile guests turned out for the recent swanky gala dinner at the V&A to mark the launch of the new "Outset Design/V&A Acquisition Fund to Benefit the V&A". Word reaches us that Ron Arad introduced his dinner partners -Matthew Slottover, Simon de Pury and Thomas Heatherwick - to the joys of Quordy, an online scrabble-esque game, while design writer Alice Rawsthorn discussed the campaign to save Le Corbusier's Indian city of Chandigarh with furniture designer Francis Sultana. Outset patrons aim to raise £100,000 annually for the new fund, boosting modern and contemporary design collecting. A panel of design experts led by Christopher Wilk of the V&A will select choice design pieces which go on show at the museum during the London Design Festival (17-25 September).
Archer's blue-chip art with a heart goes under the hammer (minus the rabbit)
Headline-hitting novelist Jeffrey Archer is putting his art collection under the hammer in London this summer. “I recently celebrated my 70th birthday – an event which prompts a certain degree of thought and realisation. As a result, I have begun to restructure my art collection with a view to the future. At Christie’s in June, I will host an evening gala auction (27 June) with all proceeds benefiting charitable causes. This will include personal mementos that I have acquired over the years...the commercial auction the following day will offer works of art from my personal collection as well as works from the Neffe Gallery, of which I was, for three decades, a business partner," says the erudite author. Top-dollar lots include La Seine près de Vétheuil, Temps Orageux, 1878, by Claude Monet (est £800,000 to £1.2m) and L'Eternelle Idole (Grande Modèle) by Auguste Rodin (est £300,000 to £500,000). The press blurb notes: "Jeffrey has served five years in the House of Commons, nineteen years in the House of Lords, and two at Her Majesty’s pleasure, which spawned three highly acclaimed Prison Diaries." A piece bought by Archer in 2005 at the Affordable Art Fair in Battersea Park does not appear to be on the auction list. Archer told The Art Newspaper he had bought a work at the fair which depicted a "big rabbit".
Duck and cover fell out of the American vernacular after the Cold War, but a new art project is bringing that instruction back. Today, Washington Square Park will host The Bomb Shelter, an installation that simulates a terror attack. The show is meant to mimic the real life experiences of Israelis today. Inspired by the recent bus stop bombings in Jerusalem—the worst in four years—the exhibit brings the Middle Eastern conflict to the American public. From 1pm to 4pm, park-goers will have the opportunity to participate in the multi-media art education event. Sirens will sound throughout the park, giving visitors 15 seconds to run to the constructed bomb shelter. The crash of explosions and images of rocket attacks will surround the refuge. Footage from the actual Qassam attack on Sderot will be shown. The installation was created by the non-profit Artists 4 Israel and is being sponsored by the Birthright Israel Alumni Community. More than terror, the exhibit will also show the art of children from Sderot. New York graffiti artists will cover the shelter’s walls with inspiring words and images, ultimately lending the project a message of hope rather than doom.
Saving a “sexist” sculpture
American art scholars have launched a campaign to keep a public sculpture in Queens, New York, after district congressman Anthony Weiner posted an advert for Frederick MacMonnies' Civic Virtue, 1922, on the classifieds website Craigslist last month under the subject line, “sexist statue for sale”. It seems the work has always had a contentious history. Conceived in 1909 and taking 13 years to be completed, it depicts a man standing on top of two recumbent female figures. It caused controversy when it was first unveiled, with critics labelling the sculpture demeaning to women. In 1941, mayor Fiorello LaGuardia labelled the piece offensive and subsequently had it removed from its original Manhattan City Hall location and placed in a less conspicuous neighbourhood—Kew Gardens, Queens. “While the monument may be problematic to some on a number of levels, it nevertheless deserves to be saved, stabilised against further erosion and eventually restored if for no other reason than that Frederick MacMonnies was a pivotal American sculptor of the American renaissance,” said Brian Hack, a professor at City University New York, who is spearheading the campaign to keep Civic Virtue in Queens. “At the very least the public should know that the monument is not merely a big burly man trampling on two women.” Hack said he had been assured by New York's public design commissioning body “that they have no intention of deaccessioning the piece from the city's collection.”
Grayson Perry joins RA
Grayson Perry has been elected a Royal Academician as a printmaker, not a potter. A RA spokeswoman pointed out that Academicians have to be “practicising painters, sculptors, engravers, printmakers, draughtsmen or architects”. Perry, the first transvestite potter to win the Turner Prize (2003), also etches and engraves, and so he has been allowed to join the honoured ranks in Burlington House. On 22 March he was the guest speaker at the RA Schools annual dinner, and although it was a black tie event, Perry added some colour to the night and came as his usual female altar-ego “Claire”, rather than hire a tired Moss Bros suit.
Fela! heads to Lagos
Fela!, the musical co-produced by the New York dealer Edward Tyler Nahem, is an In the Frame favourite (we’ve followed the highs and lows of the stage hit over the years which started on Broadway and then launched in London). Nahem now tells us that the song and dance extravaganza, which charts the life of the eponymous Nigerian artist and political activist, heads to Lagos in April. London-based artist Yinka Shonibare, who was raised in Nigeria, will return to the African capital for the first time in decades to see the show, adds a thrilled Nahem.
Kiefer turns to Mother Nature
Anselm Kiefer’s labyrinthine studio complex at Barjac in the south of France is the stuff of legend. From the early 1990s to 2008, he lived on the 35-hectare site where he built an extensive network of buildings, storerooms and subterranean chambers, more like a human ant-hill than an artist's studio. Kiefer told The Guardian that talks are now underway to establish a joint German-French foundation which will look after the Barjac complex. The new organisation is driven by one aim: to allow nature to slowly reclaim the site, allowing Kiefer’s creations to be swamped by the encroaching earth.
At Berlin gallery Eigen + Art, artist Olaf Nicolai answers a question we’d never really thought to ask before: Why women like to buy textiles that feel nice. The title of both the exhibition opening tomorrow (until 1 May) and the installation work itself is apparently drawn from a 1937 survey by Elias Smith (the pseudonym of sociologist Paul Lazarsfeld), about consumer behaviour during the American depression. The work, consisting of a rainbow hued curtain and two embroidered images, was originally shown last year in the new headquarters of Austria’s Arbeiterkammer Wien, the country’s Chamber of Labour which, of course, financed the 1937 study. It all comes full circle. But we’re still curious about the textiles question. Maybe because their skin is softer?
Courtney Loves Barbara
While TV satirist Stephen Colbert made a comically frantic scene to boost bidding on his portrait at last week’s “Under the Influence” contemporary sale at Phillips in New York, rock star Courtney Love was uncharacteristically demure, calmly bidding on—and bagging—two photographic works by artist Barbara Kruger. First, Love competed for Kruger’s 2001 "Ohne Titel–Evil", buying it for $56,250, nearly twice the estimate of $20,000-$30,000, then continued raising her paddle in the air for "Ohne Titel – Lust", which she secured for $92,500 against the same estimate. "I'm happy to see that lust is worth far more than evil," auctioneer Simon de Pury said, as he hammered down the piece, and later showed his passionate appreciation by planting a number of kisses on Love. Simon should watch his flirtation, though, as Love’s newest friend and admirer is none other than aristocratic dealer and Phillips contemporary specialist Henry Allsopp, who was working the phone bank during the sale.
Go free with a low GDP
The Federation of International Human Rights Museums has hit upon a novel way of charging registration fees for its second international conference to be held at Liverpool's International Slavery Museum in October. Delegates will cannily pay a sum according to their country of origin, in line with the ICOM classification of countries based on their Gross Domestic Product per capita. So attendees from 36 countries with an average GDP of €22,120, including the US, UK and San Marino, will pay £100; the remainder will pay nothing....
Monobrows, Iranian revolutionaries and the Solidarnosc movement in Sharjah
Challenging art concepts, no 1,330: "For the 10th Sharjah Biennale (16 March-16 May), [art collective] Slavs and Tatars is proud to present Friendship of Nations: Polish Shi'ite Showbiz, tracing an ambitious, if unlikely, genealogy between Iran and Poland, from 17th century Sarmatism to monobrows in America to the Green movement in present-day Iran. Including research (equal parts archival and affective) and original work, Friendship of Nations explores the revolutionary potential of folklore and crafts behind the ideological impulses of the Iranian Revolution and Poland's Solidarnosc movement," notes the project press blurb. Intriguing.
Sex and Moi-der in Manhattan
If you go down to fordPROJECT today, a gallery housed in the historic Warren and Wetmore building on 57th Street in New York, you're sure of a big surprise...curator Neville Wakefield has organised an exhibition (Involuntary, until 15 April) which draws upon the residence's racy history, with works inspired by the tales of sex and violence that permeate the property. Scott Campbell's “Wish you were here” tombstone, for instance, is positioned on the 19th floor terrace near the parapet wall where Charles Brazelle (lover of Edna Crawford Champion, wife of the spark plug inventor) was thrown to his death by bodyguards, after he (those of a nervous disposition, look away) bludgeoned her with a telephone. "Wakefield was inspired by the sadistic history of the exhibition space itself, which includes violence, debauchery, murder, hauntings and madness," notes the press blurb. Such grisly tales went down a storm at the opening night attended by screen stars such as Rachel Weisz and Chloe Sevigny. Claire Fontaine's "Private" piece, a long length of rubber tubing snaking around the entrance, (literally) sent shockwaves through the party; whenever guests inadvertently trod on the piping, a piercing alarm "momentarily shocked the party goers out of their schmoozing", quipped Wakefield.
TAN snippet prompts Terra Foundation
A display of early 20th-century American pictures at London’s National Gallery crossed the Atlantic as a direct result of The Art Newspaper. When British art historian Nicholas Penny took over as director in 2008, coming from Washington’s National Gallery of Art, he gave his first interview with us, saying that it is “a real shame that we do not have more American paintings”. He singled out George Bellows as “a great artist whose work can stand comparison with Goya and Monet.” This was read by Elizabeth Glassman, president of the Chicago-based Terra Foundation for American Art. She immediately contacted Penny, offering to back a small Bellows show in London. “An American Experiment: George Bellows and the Ashcan Painters” opened in London last week and runs until 30 May. The Terra Foundation has promised that this is only a curtain-raiser for a series of collaborations with the National Gallery.
High society meets high art
MoMA was packed on Wednesday night with bright, young things partying the night away at the glamorous Armory Show benefit bash. Hundreds chomped on edamame and chocolate pretzels, no doubt in an effort to soak up the lethal green cocktail at the bar: absinthe. This sweet beverage—historically the tipple of choice for sozzled French poets—fuelled party spirits as revellers (mildly) thrashed to the music of Brit pop star Kate Nash who donned a huge red ribbon on her head. But away from the crowds, dealer James Barron, an Armory show participant (P92/148), relished the chance to see MoMA’s masterpieces in relative isolation. “I’m loving this goddam fucking great art,” he declared, poring over works by David Hammons and Lawrence Weiner. But who would have thought that among the Manhattan elite would be a beacon of English aristocracy: the elegant Penelope, Lady Sitwell, wife of the late 7th baronet of Renishaw Hall, Sir Sacheverell Reresby Sitwell, and niece by marriage to poet Edith.
Artists Eder Santos and Leandro Aragão have given a whole new meaning to “walking the dog” with their 2011 video piece Dogville at Brazil’s Luciana Brito Galeria (P94/933). Aragão was spotted trailing a video monitor around the Armory Show that shows a pooch on screen (cruelty disclaimer: no real dogs were used in the making of this piece). But not everyone at the fair digs the virtual dog, which had been barred from the VIP room. A security guard was, however, quite taken with the mutt, shouting: “Have you got a pooper scooper for that thing?” Let’s hope the electronic canine refrains from peeing on Iván Navarro’s illuminated fence.
The most unlikely pairings pop up at art fairs, none more so than the duo of UK comedy queen Jennifer Saunders and Brit artist Tracey Emin, seen at Ingleby Gallery (P94/730) during the Armory Show preview. Jennifer, better known as half of the double act French & Saunders, explained that she was in town to work on the Spice Girls musical (Saunders is penning the script). And does she collect art? “I’d buy one of her neons,” she quipped, pointing at the illustrious Ms Emin, “if I could afford one.” Other celebrities spotted at the fair included film director Sofia Coppola and actress Kelly Rutherford of Gossip Girl.
Teddy would not approve
Teddy Roosevelt would be turning in his grave. Hearty and arty, the outdoorsy 26th US President also made time to take in the original Armory Show (not related to the current commercial fair) in 1913 where he enjoyed work by one of his favourite sculptors Frederick MacMonnies. Other politicians have been less enthusiastic (even downright mean). New York mayor Fiorello LaGuardia banished MacMonnies's Civic Virtue, 1922, from a spot outside City Hall in 1941; now US congressman, Anthony Weiner, wants rid of it as well. But the artist does have some friends besides the pigeons of Queens where the beefy man on top of two submissive women now stands. “We need to look at them as allegorical figures, instead of seeing [them] as real women,” said City University New York professor, Brian Hack, who is spearheading the campaign to preserve the problematic public art.
Zabludowicz’s Collection (and son) debut in NY
The cream of New York’s art scene was out in force on Monday night for the first exhibition of the Zabludowicz Collection (aka British power art couple Anita and Poju) in the US. Art world luminaries such as dealers Yvon Lambert and Victoria Miro, along with photographer Gregory Crewdson, flocked to the 33rd floor of a midtown skyscraper to see works from the Zabludowicz holdings displayed against the dramatic backdrop of Times Square. Tongues wagged over the curator with the (not so mysterious) moniker of Roy Zabludowicz who turned out to be none other than the 20-year-old son of the hosts. Proud mum Anita pointed out that Roy (pictured with the Zabludowicz Collection’s director Elizabeth Neilson and Anita by a Nick van Woert work) is himself an avid collector, snapping up works by artists such as Jack Strange. But the biggest surprise was that the student at upstate Bard College, who had worked tirelessly on the show for weeks, was only given a credit (“assistant curator”) at the weekend. “He deserved it,” said his boss, Neilson, of the modest young man.
Could any dealer be more jet setting than jovial Javier Peres? The gregarious gallerist, who is showing works by New York-based artists Joe Bradley, Agathe Snow and Paul Lee at the Armory Show (P94/1136), is not only best buddies with man of the moment, movie dreamboat James Franco (Peres has just launched Franco’s first art show in Europe at his Berlin spaces), he also turns out to be closely linked to pop sensation Lady Gaga. “My boyfriend is Jeppe Laursen; he founded the Danish pop duo Junior Senior, and co-wrote and co-produced two of the songs on Lady Gaga’s new album, including the first single ‘Born This Way’,” said Peres. And what did he think of Franco’s stint as host of the Oscars? “It would have been fun if he’d sung,” joked the dealer who attended the swanky LA awards bash.
Sly in St Petersburg
Movie hero Sylvester Stallone has become a fixture at art fairs worldwide, proudly showing examples of his abstract art to an eager public. The hunky Rocky hardman is, alas, not set to make an appearance at the New York art fairs this week, but fear not film fans, as Sly is currently showing 30 works at the Galerie Gmurzynska in St Moritz. “The Hollywood star uses the Expressionism concept of presenting art in a spontaneous manner without caring about conventional shapes,” notes the accompanying press blurb, which also reveals that once the Swiss show closes, the screen star is set to display his works at the State Russian Museum in St Petersburg. “It’s in the planning stages but the date hasn’t been determined yet,” said a project spokesman. Is Russia ready for a paintbrush-wielding Rambo?