This seat's taken
Martin Roth, the director of the V&A, has a gleaming Thomas Heatherwick aluminium bench in his office. Many of his visitors want to sit on it, and he has the slightly awkward job of warning them that it is a work of art when they are nearly upon it. Talking to The Art Newspaper at the private view of “Heatherwick Studio” (until 30 September), Roth says the two-metre bench is on loan from London’s Haunch of Venison gallery. Entitled Billet 3, Extrusion 7 (2011), it has legs, seat and back made from a single piece of nickel-plated aluminium, squeezed through a die in a Chinese machine which exerts 10,000 tons of pressure. What Roth likes is that the result is something “between furniture, architecture and sculpture”. Despite his “no sitting” policy, he could not resist the temptation of exercising the director’s prerogative when the bench first arrived—and trying it out. “Being metal, it was very cold,” he says.
Moving art from Mr Pinault
In a surprise move, the billionaire French collector François Pinault will show film and video works from his collection this summer at Palazzo Grassi in Venice (Voices of Images, 29 August-13 January 2013). Around 30 works by 25 artists - including Adel Abdessemed, Mircea Cantor, Yang Fudong, Hassan Khan and Shirin Neshat - will be presented "in a display which highlights the great diversity of the media, projection devices and means of appreciating space and time", says a press statement. Fans of the moving image will no doubt also be keen to view For Beginners by Bruce Nauman, acquired by Pinault in 2011, which will be seen for the first time in Europe.
A very healthy art auction
One charity auction that has caught our eye is the PiH Contemporaries sale which took place at Bonhams, Knightsbridge, on 28 May. PiH stands for Paintings in Hospitals, an important charity that places works in UK healthcare facilities. All of the participating artists, from Catherine Yass to Ben Rivers and Maggi Hambling, have agreed to donate 100% of the sale price to the good cause. Over 2,000 artists are represented in the PiH collection including Gillian Ayres, Ian Davenport and John Hoyland. Above, Jonathan Huxley's appropriately titled Plink Plonk Fizz, 2011
Will Sehgal get sporty in the Turbine Hall?
Jessica Morgan, who sports the rather striking title of Daskalopoulos curator of international art at Tate Modern, has dropped the heaviest hint yet about the much-anticipated work of Tino Sehgal due to launch in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall on 17 July. The mischievous British-born artist directly involves visitors through "constructed situations" acted out by performers. Morgan indicates that Sehgal's piece will reflect the Olympics, saying in the Tate Etc. publication: "People will be doing things with their body, in parallel with what is going on in the city." Let's hope he opts for a piece based on synchronised swimming.
Gregor sets up house in Oz
Australians will soon be able to experience first hand the disconcerting art of Gregor Schneider who will shortly install the original basement rooms from his high-profile Haus UR project at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. The cellar rooms come from the artist's childhood home in Rheydt, north-west Germany, which he has relentlessly reconfigured since 1985. The perturbing piece will be on view in a newly refurbished wing of the museum dedicated to works donated by the collector John Kaldor and his family. "The work will stay up for three years in which time the gallery and I will make a decision whether to purchase it," says Kaldor.
Champagne-and-humbug launch for Photographers’ Gallery
Sparks (sort of) flew last night at the opening of the newly revamped Photographers' Gallery in London on Thursday night, when arts heavyweight Liz Forgan followed the ever ebullient Ed Vaizey, the arts minister, as guest speaker at the swanky launch bash. Ed introduced Liz as “our very own Dame Liz Forgan", only for the illustrious dame to reply: “Honestly! What humbug: the weather is miserable, budgets are being slashed.” To which Nicholas Serota, the Tate’s director, piped up from the audience: “And you’re leaving the Arts Council,” leaving guests bemused and amused. Forgan went on to describe the new Photographers’ Gallery, after a five-year, £9m transformation of its multi-storey home near London’s Oxford Street, as the “classiest loft conversion imaginable”.
Art (and love) on the Central Line
Commuters on their daily slog on the London Underground can savour yet another intriguing work of art on the Tube courtesy of artist Bob and Roberta Smith and creative film director Tim Newton. Who is Community? - a short film and series of paintings on show at Stratford Station - depicts a fictional meeting and romantic encounter on the Central line between the founder of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin, and German political theorist Hannah Arendt. "I want to explore why public space, like the Underground, and public celebrations, like the Olympics, are romantic, exciting and important to democratic life," quips Bob. But what will hard-nosed Tube passengers make of this unlikely pairing?
Astaire, the English aristocracy and an Irish castle
A touch of Hollywood glamour and stardust is sprinkled all over Lismore Castle in County Waterford in Ireland this month with the launch of The Heir and Astaire (until 10 June), a show by US artist TJ Wilcox devoted to vaudeville star Adele Astaire, sister of dancer Fred. The exhibition throws the spotlight on Adele's life at Lismore Castle in the 1930s when she married Lord Charles Cavendish, second son of the ninth Duke of Devonshire (the castle is the Irish home of the esteemed English aristocratic dynasty). The high-society high jinks of the modern married couple are documented in the show held at the off-site project space St Carthage Hall. An exhibition devoted to the Swiss artist Hans Josephsohn has also opened at the Irish landmark that is Lismore Castle (until 30 September).
Checkmate at the Tretyakov
The chess masters Viswanathan Anand and Boris Gelfand kicked off their World Chess Championship battle in Moscow on Friday in unusual surroundings: the State Tretyakov Gallery. The match, which runs through the end of May, is the highest-level chess event to take place in the Russian capital in 27 years since Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov’s epic two-month battle in 1985.
Andrey Filatov, a 40-year-old billionaire and art collector who works closely with Gennady Timchenko, an oil trader with ties to President Vladimir Putin, is sponsoring the event. He donated $5m for the championship, including $2.5m in prize money, and proposed that it be held at the gallery, but at a news conference on Thursday, he said he can’t take credit for the idea.
“The idea isn’t mine, but Stalin’s,” he said. “A chess match was held at the Pushkin Museum in 1935, and the treasures of the museum were shown to the world… the time has come to show Russia’s 20th-century treasures.”
The Tretyakov Gallery has a great, but underpublicised, collection of 20th-century art, including Soviet artists who were cut off from the international scene by the Iron Curtain. Filatov sees the match as an opportunity to promote such artists and reach out to a huge audience in India, Anand’s homeland.
Irina Lebedeva, the Tretyakov’s general director, said that short promotional films about the museum would run during the match, and commentary would include explanations about the museum’s collection by gallery experts. As part of European Museum Night on 19 May, an exhibition of contemporary art with a chess theme will be held at the Tretyakov’s 20th-century branch and artists will have the opportunity to play chess with a grandmaster.
The art of learning at the Hayward Gallery's summer "school"
The Wide Open School at the Hayward Gallery in London this summer (11 June-11 July) sounds like an educational venture with a difference. "Anything but a traditional art school, it will be a wide-ranging forum where artists choose a subject they are passionately interested in and lead seminars, workshops, collaborative projects, lectures and performances," says a press statement. Haegue Yang, for instance, hosts a day-long workshop of knitting and origami (7 July) while Aleksandra Mir presents a lecture on the connection between rock icon Freddie Mercury and Czech sculptor Irena Sedlecka, who created a bronze sculpture of the late musician (11 & 12 June). Our favourite though is Bedwyr Williams who plans to deliver a lecture-performance he describes as a "kind of gumball rally through Welsh culture" (6 July). People of the valleys should savour that session.
Mark and Gavin’s greasy spoon
Move over Gordon Ramsay, a star chef was born at Frieze New York at the VIP opening, when the actor Mark Ruffalo could be found serving piping hot pork links on the stand of his doppelgänger, the dealer Gavin Brown (B18). “We’re cooking sausages and talking about hydrofracking [a form of oil extraction considered ecologically harmful]. It destroys clean water,” Ruffalo explained, while slicing French bread and handing out sandwiches filled with garlicky meat and mustard, wrapped in brown paper printouts of Dick Cheney’s 2001 energy bill. The celebrity eco-warrior was not enough for one collector, however, who peeked around the stand asking, “Where’s Rirkrit? I came for Rirkrit,” referring to the artist Tiravanija, who is responsible for the socially engaged installation. “Yeah, I did too,” sympathised Ruffalo.
Life’s a drag
Matthew Day Jackson is on top of his game with work on show this week at Hauser & Wirth at Frieze (B6) and the Whitney Museum, but now the artist is seeking his thrills in an altogether more perilous way. “I’m going to be drag racing for the next year or two,” he says, explaining that he has a Super Comp Dragster built by McKinney Corp, the professional racecar builders, and has embarked on special training in Florida so he can drive it on the track at Englishtown, New Jersey. “I will represent the fourth generation of racecar drivers in my family,” says the artist, adding that he believes the racetrack, like gladiatorial combat in ancient Rome, “is a space integral to human culture”, where “certain values of a society are exposed”, namely the voyeuristic thrill in watching others face danger. Day Jackson says he isn’t nervous at the prospect of reaching speeds of 170 miles per hour but admits: “I don’t want to die.” He isn’t giving up on his art altogether though as his dragster will eventually be turned into a sculpture. Collectors can sponsor Day Jackson’s racing team. Sponsorship options start at $500. For $60,000 you can name his car, choose its colours and have your name emblazoned on all three sides of it.
The art world falls in love with Courtney
“Live Through This” may well be the perfect mantra for any art fair, but Courtney Love has proved to be the stand-out star of Frieze week so far, with the unveiling of the first ever exhibition of her own work at Fred Torres Collaborations, entitled “And She’s Not Even Pretty”. These surprisingly compelling (and surprisingly expensive, starting at $12,000) watercolours and works on paper portray the star at her most emotionally vulnerable and give the artist Karen Kilimnik—currently being much fêted at Frieze and by the collector Peter Brant at his Brant Foundation Art Study Center in Greenwich, Connecticut—a serious run for her money. It’s hardly surprising that a top-tier celebrity crew turned out for her VIP opening on Wednesday night, including Jude Law and Fred Armisen. But the real shocker here was to find la rockeuse clutching a photocopied version of Clement Greenberg’s Art and Culture in her delicate fingers. For who would have guessed that Courtney was actually related to the great art critic, her grandmother, the writer Paula Fox, being married to his brother Martin Greenberg. While Love declares herself a committed fan of the criticism of her great-uncle, the stern formalist himself might have been less reciprocal in his views on her work, having famously gravely proclaimed that “kitsch is the epitome of all that is spurious in the life of our times”.
Off with a bang
Frieze week got off to a big bang thanks to BOMB, the fabled downtown magazine that held its 31st gala on Monday night at Capitale on the Bowery, a cavernous space packed with le tout art world. Being honoured were a deliciously gruff Richard Serra and the superstar curator Klaus Biesenbach of MoMA. International curatorial top brass was there in support, from Laura Hoptman to Lynne Cooke and Sheena Wagstaff, who was starting her new job as Queen of contemporary at the Met the very next morning at 9.30am. And who should be toasting Klaus but Patti Smith, recounting how they first met through Susan Sontag and how she’d always assumed his title “chief curator at large” was a private joke, “but it turns out to actually be something… knowing him, something mysterious”. Smith namechecked her ever-favourite poet William Blake, who “did not have a champion such as Klaus”, while the man himself thanked friends in attendance, from Marina Abramovic to Glenn Lowry, Aggie Gund and Diana Widmaier-Picasso, the artist’s grand-daughter. Fresh from his Kraftwerk triumph, where he got them to perform all their albums at the museum, Biesenbach himself had a curiously robotic presence with slick white hair and a perfect tan. The actor James Franco and Michael Stipe of REM were much in evidence, doubtless aware that Biesenbach’s interest in what he flexibly refers to as “contemporary practice” could easily get them both gigs at the most prestigious museum in town.
Artoon by Pablo Helguera
Artoon by Pablo Helguera: "And what if the island was inhabited by really annoying art fair types?" See more of his cartoons about the art world in our next Frieze daily edition, as well as on his website.
Feline arty at the Hermitage
We have it on good authority from our sister paper in Russia that the Hermitage in St Petersburg has resident cats let loose at night to catch any mice. Traditionally, the kitties have been celebrated with an annual Day of the Hermitage Cat, with special events held in the museum relating to its feline workforce. This used to be in March but straddled 21 and 22 April, the latter being Lenin's birthday, making it an event in praise of cats and the cat-friendly communist.