Arty cheese made from Olafur's tears
Have you ever wondered what Olafur Eliasson-infused cheese tastes like? Or been desperate to discover what is inside mega-curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist's nostrils? Now you can find out courtesy of a new exhibition at the Science Gallery, Trinity College in Dublin ("Grow Your Own: Life After Nature", until 19 January 2014). According to the dezeen.com blog, the US scientist Christina Agapakis and Norwegian scent expert Sissel Tolaas collected bacteria from Obrist's nose and Eliasson's tears, then turned the cultures into "human cheese". The "Selfmade" project features 11 cheeses in total, but Eliasson and Obrist's rather scientific intervention is not as stomach-churning as chef Michael Pollan's contribution; he gallantly gave the contents of his belly button to create the most pungent of cheeses.
Are you looking for a high-tech way to celebrate the eight-day holiday of Hanukkah? The Jewish Museum can help. For the second year in a row, the New York institution has produced a free Hanukkah iPhone and Android app that allows users to select one of 26 menorahs in the museum's collection and light it virtually each night. Users can liven up their digital display with one of 19 different backgrounds (including a turkey to commemorate Thanksgivukkah, this year’s rare overlap of Thanksgiving and Hanukkah). “Light My Fire: A Hanukkah App” also provides blessings in English, Hebrew, and transliterated Hebrew as well as background details on menorahs in the museum's collection. Perhaps next year the institution could develop online dreidel.
Generosity must be genetic
It’s the family that just keeps on giving. Two pivotal works by Henri Matisse have been donated to the Centre Pompidou in Paris by the artist’s heirs. Barbara Duthuit, the widow of the artist’s grandson Claude, gave the painting Fillette au Chat Noir (Marguerite), 1910, and the gouache découpées (paper cut-out) La Jérusalem Céleste, 1948, to the Musée National d’Art Moderne based at the Centre Pompidou in October. The former work depicts the artist’s daughter, aged 14; La Jérusalem Céleste is a study for Matisse’s stained-glass window at the Rosary Chapel in Vence, south-eastern France. “Since the 1970s, Matisse’s heirs have generously enriched French national collections through their donations,” said a press statement. Early last year, Matisse’s descendants donated a series of paper collages and cut-outs dating from 1945 to 1954 to the Matisse Museum in Le Cateau-Cambrésis, northern France.
Pass the hot sauce
They say necessity is the mother of invention, and the old adage seems to have proven true in northern Mexico, where officials in Ciudad Juárez have found a novel way to keep their public monuments clean. When a blob of the popular hot sauce, Valentina Salsa, fell from a city worker’s lunch onto the foot of a bronze statue, the savvy civil servant discovered it was an effective cleaning and polishing agent. After a few months of careful (and secret) tests, he found that the spicy coating left a “more durable and more beautiful” result than expensive chemicals, and proceeded to report these hot findings to his superiors. The new mayor, Enrique Escobar, and the culture minister, Teodoro Montes Solórzano, have turned to the relatively inexpensive sauce to polish the 110 bronze monuments around the city, most of which were vandalised as the result of drug cartel violence over the past several years. Talk about cleaning up the city.
When we come across an auction with a mysterious title that only identifies the art as coming “from the collection of a lady”, we often find ourselves scratching our heads, wondering what the story behind the sale might be. Such a one takes place tomorrow, 23 November, at Heritage Auctions in Dallas, where a collection of “Contemporary Art—Property of a Distinguished Gentleman Signature Auction” goes under the hammer. This tantalising sale includes 187 lots by 66 artists, including Roy Lichtenstein, Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor and Arman. One of the top lots is a Jasper Johns lead relief limited edition, 0 Through 9, 1970, published by Gemini GEL in Los Angeles, with an estimate of $60,000-$80,000. Fortunately for us though, a considerately thorough cataloguer at the auction house has cured our curiosity, taking snaps of every detail of the works—including the back, where a shiny collection label appears on almost every lot. So this time, the “distinguished gentleman” turns out to be none other than Georges Marciano, the co-founder of Guess jeans, who amassed an impressive art collection, but was forced into bankruptcy in 2011 after losing a libel case.
From gulag prisoner to hometown hero
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the chronicler of the Soviet Gulag system of prison camps who is often credited with single-handedly bringing down communism, was booted out of the USSR in 1974. Now, the Nobel Prize-winning writer, who returned to Russia in 1994 and died in Moscow in 2008, after becoming increasingly critical of the West, is being lauded by officials and memorialised with institutions dedicated to his work. Last month, the village of Mezinovskaya in Vladimir oblast opened a replica of the peasant woman’s house where he was a boarder in the 1950s. The original house was immortalised in Solzhenitsyn’s novella “Matryona’s Place”, but burnt down last year. The reconstruction was funded by the local politicians Vladimir Kiselyov and Aleksandr Beryozkin, who are both members of the pro-Kremlin United Russia political party. And in Moscow, city officials recently announced plans for a major expansion of an archive and library for Russian emigre culture that Solzhenitsyn launched in 1995. Meanwhile, a Solzhenitsyn museum is slated to open in Kislovodsk, the writer’s birthplace in the northern Caucasus region of Russia, but that project has been embroiled in controversy over misappropriated funds.
Police move in on Marcel's masterpiece
It was touch and go this week at the Michael Werner gallery in London which is presenting two significant and striking works by the late Belgian artist Marcel Broodthaers: Décor: A Conquest and Bricks: 1966-1975 (until 18 January 2014). The former installation, originally conceived in 1974 for the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, comprises a "XXth Century" period room fitted with patio furniture, an unfinished puzzle depicting the Battle of Waterloo and handguns and rifles displayed atop pedestals. But the Metropolitan police were not happy with the 15 guns imported for the piece and subsequently seized the firearms, leaving the quick-witted gallery staff to find realistic replacement items (the piece has nonetheless been presented without any hitches in New York, Paris and Venice).
Winter on the beach
Snowbirds look forward to Art Basel Miami Beach. It’s a chance to get away from the cold and frost of New York, London or Paris. So, they may be surprised to find that the winter will be following them this year. An installation at Miami’s Marine Stadium by the French art duo Kolkoz (opening 5 December) involves the construction of a floating chalet, presumably covered in false snow. The project is sponsored by Galerie Perrotin and the Swiss watch-maker Audemars Piguet, whose “wintery home in the Vallée du Joux” is the inspiration for the work.
Oursler and Hopper: peas in a pod?
The artist Tony Oursler grew up in the small town of Nyack, New York, where Edward Hopper was born in 1882. Apart from the additional fact that both are artists, the similarities seem to end there. Oursler’s surreal video and installation work would probably have been unimaginable to Hopper the realist. But the older painter’s drawings are the basis of five installations by Oursler now on view at the Edward Hopper House, a small museum in their native town. The videos, brought together under the exhibition title “hopped (popped)”, rely on Hopper’s caricatures as inspiration and will be on view until 5 January. Hopper’s original drawings are also being exhibited and will be up until 6 April.
Gillian's model family
Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, UK, celebrates its 50th anniversary next year, with a lively and provocative roster of shows devoted to artists such as Jamal Penjweny from Kurdistan and Lee Bul of Korea. But Birmingham is set to be transformed by another Ikon project: a sculpture by Gillian Wearing which will be sited outside the Library of Birmingham. The piece, entitled A Real Birmingham Family, "is the outcome of the artist’s quest to find, and immortalise in bronze, a ‘real’ Birmingham family", says a press statement. A judging panel chose the Jones clan as the subjects. "The sculpture of Roma and her sister Emma, along with their young sons Kyan and Shaye, will celebrate the everyday and the unsung and be a lasting memorial to the people of Birmingham." Wearing's Brummies in bronze are due to be unveiled late 2014.
Bronx’s public art boom
New Yorkers hungry for public art should consider hopping the subway to the Bronx. In the past three months, three very different artists—the Swiss conceptual artist Thomas Hirschhorn, the British street artist Banksy and the American sculptor Tony Feher—have created public projects in New York’s northernmost borough. The latest, Feher’s Albuquerque Landing, takes over a vacant lot next door to the Bronx Museum, which is currently hosting a retrospective of his work. Rather than build a sculpture on top of the lot, Feher, whose studio is also located in the Bronx, opted to spray paint the gravel ground fluorescent pink. “I’d love to spray lots all over the city in bright shocking single colors,” Feher says. While the work is located in the Bronx, it would serve the same purpose anywhere, he says. “My experience has shown that the love of color is not limited to any single race or ethnicity. I think the response would be the same in Brooklyn or midtown or Dallas.”
The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement estimates that, in the past six years alone, it has returned more than 6,600 looted artefacts and works of art to their rightful owners. A recently released list of its “Top Ten Repatriations” reads like an Indiana Jones screenplay. ICE’s greatest hits include the recovery of a 3,000-year-old Egyptian sarcophagus; a pair of eighth-century Neo-Assyrian earrings taken from Iraq; and Edgar Degas’s Laundry Women with Toothache, which as stolen from France in 1973 and spotted by agents in a 2010 New York auction catalogue. Non-art items include a Tyrannosaurus Bataar skeleton looted from Mongolia.
Bedwyr Williams steals the show at Performa
The artist Bedwyr Williams broke into the office of art advisor Thea Westreich last weekend—twice. The pretend invasion is the Welsh artist’s contribution to the performance art biennial Performa in New York (1-24 November). In “A Break-In”, Williams’s most ambitious monologue yet, he plays a neurotic thief plotting to rob a prominent New York couple. The event is part stand-up comedy, part dramatic reading and part concert: Williams’ story is accompanied by a live—and very literal—score from the musician Ian Colletti. (When Williams recounts following the couple’s housekeeper to a coffee shop, Colletti grinds coffee into the microphone.) Once Williams’s character successfully breaks into the apartment, he finds the couple’s art collection far less interesting than their other aesthetically pleasing belongings, including an elegantly shaped ironing board and a refrigerator adorned with a single magnet (“a very accurate miniature version of the fridge itself”). Luckily for the audience, Williams is a far better performer than he is a thief.
Tweet Jeff tweet
Fans of Jeff Koons (and there are a few) should be aware that the contemporary art titan has just signed up to Twitter under @JeffKoonsStudio.
Jeff has apparently been tweeting since 14 November, throwing light on his personal and professional life (assuming it's not a hoax)."With two of my favorite Icelandic horses at our farm in PA," Koons tweeted on 16 November (please see the enchanting image of Jeff and his ponies). Today, the artist was cock-a-hoop about a major show due to launch next year: "meeting with @whitneymuseum today to go over the catalogue design for my June 2014 retrospective. Excited to see the first layout!" But who is Jeff "following"? Lady Gaga (of course), Hillary Clinton, Yoko Ono, the artist David Salle and... Damien Hirst. And if you're really keen on Koons, you can also follow him on Instagram: @officialjeffkoons
The feisty figurine fitted with baton and grenade
It's not often you see a dainty ceramic figurine brandishing a hand grenade—which is why Penny Byrne's 2013 work Life is a Riot-Gezi Park is an eye-opener. Byrne, a trained ceramics conservator, subverts the medium, making mischievous pieces with a punch and political charge (this delicate yet plucky damsel, described by the artist as an "altered vintage ceramic figurine", draws attention to the recent turmoil in Turkey). The work is on show in a group exhibition of twenty emerging and mid-career Australian artists at the Fine Art Society in London ("Australia: Contemporary Voices", until 21 December). "The time was right.... to show a side to Australian art that international observers have not seen," says the guest curator, Geoffrey Cassidy.
A helping hand for unloved moggies
The UK charity Cats Protection has cannily called upon four cat-loving artists to help raise funds for abandoned moggies. The pussy-loving practitioners—Melissa Hemmings, Clive Meredith, Eve Poland and Chris Wright—have created unique "paper paws" (in other words, they drew around their hands, adorning them with their own designs). The works are up for grabs in Cats Protection’s "Celebrity Paws" auction which begins on eBay on 21 November, and ends on 1 December. But the artists are not the only high-profile figures crazy about kitties. Celebrities taking part include the model Twiggy, and the former UK professional footballer David Seaman. But we especially like Christopher Walken's rather minimalist "paw" (who knew the Oscar-winning actor was a committed cat man?)
A slice of American pie in London
Uncle Sam descended on the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London (ICA) last night (11 November) with the launch of "Art Studio America: Contemporary Artist Spaces" (Thames & Hudson), a survey of 115 high-profile US artists interviewed in studios and work spaces across the United States (Marina Abramovic, John Baldessari, Francesco Clemente, Chuck Close, and John Currin are among the featured practitioners). Guests at the ICA bash were greeted by a troupe of all-smiling cheerleaders (how patriotic) and snacked on mini hot dogs and popcorn. The publication's executive editor, Maryam Eisler, brought to life the American odyssey undertaken by the book's creative team including Hossein Amirsadeghi, the publisher and editor, and the photographer Robin Friend. "115 personalities, 115 locations, each and everyone special, across mediums, seasons and generations.... We waifed and surfed in Malibu, ate Mexican mole with John Baldessari in Venice, and discussed urethane and urban demarcation with Sterling Ruby," Eisler told the assembled crowd, which was dotted with art world luminaries such as Chris Dercon, the director of Tate Modern, the Turner Prize nominee Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and the film-maker Isaac Julien. The actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers, a decidedly English heart throb, was also spotted in the all-American throng. Meyers, who played Henry VIII in the raunchy BBC series "The Tudors", no doubt hoped to tap into the latest art trends from across the Pond.
Protesting Russian artist feels the pain
Protest art took on a new, more painful, dimension yesterday (10 November) when the Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky nailed his scrotum to the cobblestones in Moscow's Red Square. Pavlensky's stomach-clenching demonstration was apparently a cri du coeur against police brutality in Russia. The artist posted a statement on the grani.ru website, saying: "A naked artist, looking at his testicles nailed to the cobblestone, is a metaphor of apathy, political indifference, and fatalism of Russian society." Pavlensky, who received hospital treatment, is now reportedly under arrest. Last year, the audacious artist sewed his mouth together in support of punk rock group Pussy Riot.
UPDATE: The Art Newspaper understands that Pavlensky has since been released from police custody, and will not face any charges.
A peek at the archives: The Art Newspaper, November 1993
Making headlines 20 years ago in The Art Newspaper, Issue No 31: Marian Wenzel reports direct from the siege of Sarajevo: “When I met Enver Imamovich, [Professor of Archaeology at Sarajevo University] he wanted to conduct me across Sniper’s Alley to the museum. To my shame, I took a taxi from the Holiday Inn across the street. However, I fled with him away from the museum, across threatened streets and past the blackened cadaver of the university, while he told me of the rescue of Sarajevo’s revered treasure, the Sarajevo Haggadah, a 13th- to 14th-century manuscript brought to Sarajevo by refugees from the Spanish Inquisition.” Madame Recamier’s chaise longue (very like the one in the famous portrait by David) comes up for sale with Jacques Tajan. The Louvre opens another huge area, the Aile Richelieu, as part of the Mitterrandian Grands Projets, while Susan Weber Soros, 39, then wife of financier George Soros, launches the small but very successful Bard Center for Decorative Arts in New York to teach traditional methods of connoisseurship. Israeli archaeologists uncover the remains of Chastellet, the crusader castle built by the leper king Baldwin IV in 1178, handed over to the Knights Templar and lost to Saladin, leader of the Arab forces, in 1179.
Take out a subscription to The Art Newspaper and gain online access to its entire contents since Issue No 1, published October 1990.
Hollywood and Hockney meet at Lacma
At a glance, there is not much common ground in the artistic worlds of David Hockney and Martin Scorsese. One is a British painter who adopted Los Angeles years ago and whose light infuses many of his greatest paintings. The other, a hardscrabble New Yorker whose gritty films have birthed a plethora of characters who struggle with the darker side of humanity. But both were honoured at the third annual Art + Film Gala at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art this past Saturday night. The art-minded glitterati of Hollywood turned out in their finest for the occasion. In the words of museum’s director Michael Govan, the gala “celebrates our growing achievements in combining art and film at Lacma and is in alignment with our plans to initiate a programme to acquire and restore films, in the same way as we do with other works in our collection.” The event was co-chaired by the Lacma trustee Eva Chow and the actor Leonardo DiCaprio, and it aims to bring “renowned figures from the worlds of art, cinema, fashion, and music together to support the museum,” Chow says. And indeed, Leo was at the museum just the night before to help introduce a screening of the newly restored James Dean classic “Rebel Without a Cause”, made possible Scorsese’s non-profit organisation, the Film Foundation. Other notable figures at the Gala included the film-maker Agnès Varda, the artists (and previous Art + Film Gala honorees) John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha, the musician Sting, who performed later in the evening, and actors such as Drew Barrymore, Warren Beatty, Kate Beckinsale, Sacha Baron Cohen, Robert Downey Jr, Will Ferrell, James Franco, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tom Hanks and Kate Hudson.
Baroque Spain, on the Prado's stage
The Museo del Prado recently hosted a theatrical production of a 17th-century comedy, “Darlo todo y no dar nada” (to give all and to give nothing) by the Spanish playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca, to accompany the exhibition “Velázquez and the Family of Philip IV”. De la Barca, whose plays are considered the best examples of Spanish Baroque theatre, paid a personal tribute to Velázquez in two plays. “Darlo todo y no dar nada”, published in 1651 when the artist returned from his second trip to Italy, dramatises a love triangle between Alexander the Great, his court painter, Apelles, and their lovely muse, Campaspe. Directed by Nuria Alkorta, the play will be performed three more times in the Prado’s auditorium on 15 November, 13 December and 10 January 2014.
Tracey’s royal typo
Tracey Emin has misspelt “HRH [Her Royal Highness] Royal Britania” in a portrait given to The Queen. The Artists 2012 monotype print went on display on 1 November, in a show of 100 works on paper donated by Royal Academicians and held at The Queen’s Gallery in London (until 16 March). A Royal Collection spokesman told us that “Britania” is inscribed on the 2012 work, and so the title would have to remain for posterity. No doubt, in a century’s time people will be baffled by Emin’s spelling. Emin commented on her royal portrait: “I think the Queen is incredibly glamorous and has immaculate style. I think people have forgotten what an incredible starlet she was as a princess. I wanted to show some of this in my drawing.” The Queen repaid the compliment last December, when she named Professor Emin to the Order of the British Empire.
Stallone rocks St Petersburg
Picture Rocky Balboa in a triumphant victory lap through St Petersburg. Only this time, it’s not a Cold War nemesis whom he has conquered, but the State Russian Museum. An exhibition of works by the action hero Sylvester Stallone opened to the public in the Russian capital on Monday. “Sylvester Stallone, painting: from 1975 until today”, is on view at one of the country’s most important museums, known for its Russian classics and religious icons (until 13 January 2014). A communist organisation has already denounced the show. “You know that he called for war against the USSR and in the movies killed our soldiers,” wrote the Communist Party of Leningrad Oblast, referring to Stallone and his other iconic character in an appeal last week. “Rambo isn’t necessary to us, his pictures aren’t necessary, his pornography isn’t necessary!!!” That didn’t stop scores of Stallone’s fans, who stood in a snaking line for Sunday’s opening, where the museum director Vladimir Gusev called Sly “a real artist”.