Procktor's Venice murals: what happened next
More news on Patrick Procktor’s striking views of Venice painted across the walls of the upstairs room at Langan's Brasserie off Piccadilly in London. The newly restored murals were unveiled late 2012 but we heard earlier this year that the sweeping panorama of La Serenissima is to be sold at Christie's, a move which enflamed the late UK artist’s devotees including the London-based artist Alessandro Raho. The Art Newspaper understands that the murals may initially be offered privately to institutions and collectors (the auction house apparently hopes that the work can remain complete). Watch this space.
A dream date with Damien
Do you live in Qatar? Are you desperate to meet Damien Hirst after seeing his “Relics” exhibition at the Al Riwaq hall in Doha? Lucky you: your dreams have come true thanks to the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) which has launched a competition, the “Damien Hirst Challenge”, for Qatari residents. Entrants must upload photographs of sculptures or paintings inspired by Hirst’s exploration of life and death by tomorrow (28 December). Hirst himself and other judges such as Hala Al Khalifa, the head of the artists-in-residence programme at the QMA, will then grant a golden ticket to the artist's studio complex. “On the morning of 29 January 2014, the winner will be taken to Gloucester [in the west of England] to tour one of the artist’s studios and work on a spin painting,” say the organisers. Your day with Damien will be documented. “By submitting your work, you agree full rights of any video footage or photographs taken during your trip to QMA and Damien’s [on site] team,” the organisers insist.
Diseases divulged online
Rickets, bacterial tuberculosis and bony protrusions of the skull are just a sample of the maladies that can be seen in Digitised Diseases, an online archive of 1,600 archaeological and historical skeletal specimens that was launched last month by the University of Bradford, in collaboration with London’s Royal College of Surgeons and the Museum of London. It features 3D laser scans of diseased bones from archaeological and medical collections. As well as being an educational resource, "the project will play a crucial role in conserving a resource that is under threat from damage", says Andrew Wilson, a lecturer in forensic and archaeological sciences at the university. "Pathological specimens are often the most handled bones within skeletal collections, and yet they’re also the most fragile," he says.
Paris museum sheds new light on tapestries
Visitors to Paris’s Musée de Cluny are now able to see the “Lady and the Unicorn” tapestries, the museum's “very own Mona Lisa”, in an whole new light—literally. The museum has opened a newly refurbished gallery in which to display the textiles, which were woven in Flanders in around 1500. The refurbishment follows an 11-month project to restore the cycle of six tapestries. The museum’s staff wanted to create a more intimate experience, which has been achieved through discreet LED lighting.
Ropac's starry circle of friends
The Austrian dealer Thaddaeus Ropac is certainly rubbing shoulders with top-notch celebrities these days. The charismatic gallerist is one of the judges of the Wallpaper• design awards 2014, along with Victoria Beckham (described by the esteemed design publication as "fashion mogul, former pop icon and one half of the world-beating brand Beckham"). The screenwriter and actor Spike Jonze is also on the panel. Meanwhile, fans of the pop songstress Lady Gaga should head for Ropac's gallery in the Marais, Paris, which is hosting "Video Portraits of Lady Gaga" (until 11 January), an exhibition of film vignettes made by Robert Wilson in London last month. The US stage director has based this series of "slowly shifting video portraits on old masters like Ingres and Solario", say the organisers, adding helpfully: "Lady Gaga's face and body metamorphose into the features of Mademoiselle Rivière, for example, in a video inspired by the famous portrait of Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (1793-1807)."
Royal church in Amsterdam has gone all racy
The setting where the Dutch king Willem-Alexander was crowned last April has now been taken over by Chinese erotica. The investiture was held in Amsterdam’s Dam Square, in the Nieuwe Kerk (New Church). Witnessed by millions on television, the ceremony took place just in front of the choir screen. Afterwards the church reverted to its normal use, which is to serve as an exhibition venue. The current show is on Ming China. At the back of the choir there is now a curtained-off area; on display in the darkened area are what the Nieuwe Kerk describes as "exquisite erotic drawings from the private collection of Ferdinand Bertholet”. The ten delicate paintings on silk, depicting a series of positions, date from the 16th century.
A jack of all trades (from quilts to high-end clothing)
Stoves, quilts.... and now clothing: the Los Angeles-based artist Sterling Ruby has collaborated on a menswear line with the Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons, according to the style.com website. The new collection is due to be unveiled in Paris on 15 January. How these titans of creativity will collaborate may be a cause for concern. But panic not. “It was less of a challenge than you might think,” Ruby says. “I have been thinking about my studio as a kind of Bauhaus. In the last couple of years, I have been producing my own work clothes to wear at the studio, work shirts, pants, and jumpsuits. They are made from bleached denim and canvas, materials that I also use to make some of my artworks. In my work I have been thinking about the moment the utilitarian object becomes an aesthetic object.” Vogue also highlights that Simons used denim bleached by Ruby to create a "capsule collection" of jeans and jackets in 2009. Ruby's quilts and stoves, meanwhile (yes, devices that actually produce heat) went down a storm at Design Miami earlier this month (available with the Belgian dealer Pierre Marie Giraud).
Santa's elves strike at the Serpentine
A major London gallery has been naughty this year. Half a dozen Santas gave a surprise visit to the Serpentine Gallery armed with sacks, cute hats and a banner that read “all we want for Xmas is pay”. Students from the “Future Interns” group wished a Merry Christmas to gallery visitors as they handed rolled-up copies of an advert for an unpaid “Research Assistant” at the Serpentine. Next to the job description, which requires a “full-time commitment of 5 days a week from 10:00am-6:00pm”, appeared a hand-written note pointing out that positions with set hours are required to meet National Minimum Wage standards. Originally intended to be 20 students from several London campuses, the smaller group seemed happy with their intervention. “It made it easier for us to sweep in unnoticed,” one told The Art Newspaper. Surprised at how smoothly it was going, a young female protester from Goldsmiths art college noted: “They clearly don’t have a manager or anybody in charge here.” For another protester, it was all quite successful and even the noticeably flustered staff was deemed friendly. “We didn't get forced out of the space, so that’s a good thing.”
Spall on board for Turner film
It’s a moot point how closely Timothy Spall resembles J.M.W. Turner’s famous death mask, but this is the only still image that has so far been released from the director Mike Leigh’s as-yet-untitled Turner project, showing the actor in the lead role. Leigh, who is best known for his wry and intricate takes on British domestic life, has previously made two excursions into period drama, with the 1950s-set “Vera Drake”, about an illegal abortionist, and the Gilbert and Sullivan biopic “Topsy-Turvy”. But a bigger budget was needed for the Turner film. In 2010, Leigh told the Los Angeles Times: “You don’t make a film about Turner and cut the exteriors. This is a guy who strapped himself to the mast of a ship to paint a storm. He’s for real. So, yes, expensive.” The film is due to be released later in 2014.
Facelift for Cleopatra's Needle
Cleopatra's Needle, the 3,500-year-old Egyptian obelisk that has stood in New York's Central Park for more than 130 years, is due to undergo conservation work next spring, pending approval from the city. The Central Park Conservancy, the private, non-profit body that manages the park, is developing a plan to conserve the monument—the oldest in the city—with input from the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as outside conservators. This will be the first major treatment of the obelisk, which was erected in Heliopolis by the 18th-dynasty pharaoh Thutmose III, since 1885. The goal is “to clean and stabilise the surface of the obelisk and promote its long-term preservation”. An exhibition on Cleopatra's Needle opens at the Met on 3 December (until 8 June 2014).
The steely gaze of Zaha Hadid
The Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid is the subject of a street art portrait made out of layers of welded steel—an appropriate homage for someone whose own practice crosses the boundaries between architecture, design and art. Hadid’s face, created by the US sculptor Greg Shapter and commissioned by Domus Tiles, appeared on a wall near the company’s showroom in Clerkenwell, London, in October and will remain there for three months. The portrait, I am Zaha, will then be permanently installed in Hadid’s nearby studio. Made from six sheets of steel, the portrait only reveals Zaha’s face when you stand on a particular spot in the street. Earlier this year Shapter created a similar portrait of the architect Peter Murray, but this time Shapter said he wanted to depict a woman “to redress the balance”. Hadid was just about the only well-known female architect he could find, which is hardly surprising—Hadid has often discussed the sexism she has faced in the architectural world. And what does Hadid think of her portrait? “She is pretty chuffed,” Shapter says.
Mystery deepens over Freud's private papers
Lucian Freud, who has been described as the most famous figurative artist in the western hemisphere, died in 2011 but tales of his rather colourful escapades, from gambling to siring countless children, have continued to hog the headlines. The UK newspaper The Independent on Sunday reported last month that “Freud's private papers have apparently been assigned to a museum; the recipient has yet to be announced.” Tate, a possible candidate, says it has "no information" on the matter, while Freud’s New York dealer, Acquavella Galleries, is staying schtum. Freud fiercely guarded his privacy, so whoever bags the correspondence will have access to possibly the juiciest set of scribblings ever assembled by an artist.
If the shoe fits
Ever notice those galleristas pacing their booths wearing snug-fitting stilettos and pained expressions? Lucy Mitchell-Innes, the co-proprietor of the New York gallery Mitchell-Innes & Nash, isn’t having it. At her gallery’s dinner at the Standard hotel, she offered some sound survival tips on the foot front, based on years of participating in art fairs. “Buy shoes that are one and a half sizes too big. By the end of the first day, you’ll fit into them.” What about getting your barking dogs back to their, well, original size? “Get a large bucket and fill it with ice water, and soak them at night.” Ladies, next Miami, leave the Louboutins at home.
Sticky fingers at CIFO
The dessert performances put on by Kreemart are by now an established part of the Miami experience, but the organisation’s founder Rafael Castoriano says for the one he arranged for CIFO’s brunch this week, the artist Valeska Soares “pushed” the medium of dessert “to another level”. That’s certainly an accurate way of putting it. For “Push Pull”, Soares rented out an entire taffy factory in Clearwater, Florida, then shipped masses of the stuff in various pastel coloirs and interesting flavours like rose and lychee (cooked up by the New York chef Guido Mogni) all the way to CIFO for the event. Men and women wearing crisp white shirts were enlisted to manoeuvre the gooey stuff back onto metal poles when it began to slip down, and pull off samples for brunch attendees to eat. It was a tough job—and these weren’t experts. “I thought I’d hire professional taffy pullers but that doesn’t really exist,” said Soares. “The first time they saw taffy was three days ago.”
Swiss chalet timeshare
One of the more bizarre pieces of public art in Miami this week is the life-sized inflatable Alpine chalet, complete with log walls and snow-covered roof, that bobs incongruously on its own artificial iceberg in the warm sea of Miami’s Virginia Key, just across from the vast, derelict hulk of the Miami Marine Stadium. Commissioned by the Swiss haute horologists Audemars Piguet from the French artist duo Kolkoz, the floating work of art also doubles up as Miami’s most panoramic party venue, entertaining a stream of luminaries throughout the week, including the mayor of Miami, the tennis superstar Serena Williams and the veteran crooner Lionel Richie, along with his fashionista daughter Nicole. However, you don’t have to be a VIP to appreciate the view this weekend, as the chalet is open to the public all day on Saturday and Sunday.
Jet set to go
It’s getting to be that time, folks. Time to leave Miami. Those intent on not missing their return flights needn’t bother with iPhone apps or calls to the airlines. Simply stop by Rhona Hoffman Gallery, where you’ll find Siebren Versteeg’s Departures, 2013, which is just the ticket: a constantly updated screen showing planes leaving Miami International Airport. You can’t miss the piece, which is positioned right at the entrance to the booth—an unusual placement, but one that made sense to Hoffman. “Usually at the airport, you can’t find the damn thing,” she says.
Boys’ (and girls’!) toys
Perhaps it was inevitable that “Piston Head”, the exhibition at the Herzog & de Meuron-designed car park on Lincoln Road featuring artist-customised autos, would be rather male-oriented. We spoke to the only woman in the show, Virginia Overton, whose pickup truck shares parking space with a Richard Prince muscle car, a Franz West 1970 Rolls Royce with a phallic hood ornament and a Richard Phillips “Playboy charger” that, on opening night, came complete with two Playboy Bunnies. “My work has been getting lumped together with a bunch of men because of the type of work I do—physical, large-scale sculpture,” Overton says. “But for me, it’s never macho. The truck is about the utilitarian nature of a truck. I’ve always had one.”
It seems that troubles in the eurozone are reverberating across Art Basel Miami Beach this year. On the stand of Athens-based Kalfayan Gallery in Positions, the Greek artist Stefanos Tsivopoulos makes his feelings abundantly clear in a folkloric, hand-crocheted doily emblazoned with the slogan “Fuck the €”. Meanwhile, over at Sean Kelly’s booth, patriotic hip-hop supremo Sean Combs seemed unimpressed when he was informed that the price of a work by Mariko Mori was €30,000—with no dollar conversion.
Ella Fontanals-Cisneros’s eyes are burning. Is it a symptom of art-fair-itis? Nope. The collector is just standing in front of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s interactive video The Year’s Midnight, 2011, which makes the viewer’s eyes appear as though they’re on fire. (It’s inspired by the story of Saint Lucia.) Lozano-Hemmer donated the piece to the Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, which is “selling” the work through a raffle. Tickets are just $50 and the lucky winner will take home the $90,000 work (a sign reads, rather ominously, “Burn yourself for $50”). The proceeds will benefit the foundation’s grants and commissions programme for emerging artists from Latin America, prompting one man at its annual fair-week brunch to ask: “I’m from Brazil. Can I get a discount?”
Over at Wynwood this weekend, it will be completely acceptable to call the art cheesy at a pop exhibition dedicated to everyone’s favourite dairy product and hosted by Cheeses of France and The Milk Factory Gallery from Paris in a special tent directly across from Art Miami. Here, lactose tolerant works of art include Dorothée Selz’s interactive cheeses on bamboo sticks and Antoni Miralda’s wooden map of France made in homage to its grand fromages along with live cheese sculpting—and of course tastings galore. Cheddar yet (we couldn’t resist), while enjoying this interactive gastronomic extravaganza, you can also feel a part of art history, with the organisers citing the French artist Daniel Spoerri’s Eat Art movement of the 1960s as the precedent for the show. 7 December from 11am to 7pm and 8 December from 11am to 4pm in Midtown Miami, Wynwood Art District, NE 1st Avenue between NE 31st and NE 32nd Street.
The Empire strikes back
The surprise appearance of an army of Star Wars storm troopers in the windows of a gutted building on 19th Street, just down from the conference centre, can only mean one thing: the return to Miami of the Paris-born, LA-based film-maker and street artist Thierry Guetta, AKA Mr Brainwash. However, the trademark artistic interventions of Mr B were somewhat lost on the HyStrength construction workers who are refurbishing the site. At first the builders seemed highly amused at what they were describing as “our new security officers” before it dawned on them that these intergalactic invaders had in fact had made rather a mockery of their security hoardings, prominently—and it turned out pointlessly—emblazoned with “No Trespassing” signs.
At the booth of the London gallery Paul Stolper, Anna Blessmann and Peter Saville have created a series of “Flat-Pack Plinths” as an extension of Hans Ulrich Obrist’s “do it” project of instruction-based works of art. For the low, low price of $250, you can buy a cardboard kit to make a plinth for, well, anything, and elevate it to the status of art. But seeing as how it’s being shown at a fair, let’s say another dealer brought a piece but—yikes!—forgot to ship the plinth. Could they come over and… “Yes!” said Stolper, “it has real practical value.”
Kanye talks art, while Kim admires from the wings
“You’re seeing a reality show of my thoughts right now,” declared Kanye West as the hip-hop superstar took a break from his “Jeezus” tour to join the architect Jacques Herzog and über-curator Hans Ulrich Obrist in a free-ranging discussion hosted by Surface Magazine. West riffed on myriad matters, from dropping out of art school (“I had a stronger opinion with music”) to the merits of his concrete Corbusier lamp (“it cost me so much as a rich person, but was made for poor people”) and the fact that “watches are dated”. But one thing the design-loving rapper did not disclose was the fact that, unbeknown to the audience, his reality-star fiancée Kim Kardashian was also present, discreetly watching from the wings. However, baby North West was prudently left at home.
Victoria, queen of the stand
There was a high standard of personnel on the stand of the London-based non-profit Studio Voltaire at Nada, when the director of Frieze Masters, Victoria Siddall, took a turn as salesgirl during the fair’s VIP opening—and had shifted so much stock within two hours that the gallery surpassed its daily estimate. “I love selling; I get quite carried away,” she said, while encouraging Frieze co-directors Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover to snap up a Matthew Brannon beach bag and a boxed set of tea towels by the English designer Peter Saville. However, the Frieze folk drew the line at “Cock Eyes, Cunt Face”, a limited-edition print by the veteran feminist Judith Bernstein. Perhaps when the Met’s Modern and contemporary art curator Nicholas Cullinan does his stint as the Voltaire shopboy today, he will manage to find a few brave buyers for the provocative piece.
The Kosuth diet
The art dealer and newsletter publisher Josh Baer has done a lot of market-related Salon talks at the fair, but yesterday’s was his first with an artist. Lucky for him—and the audience—the conceptualist Joseph Kosuth, a rollicking raconteur, was the artist involved. Kosuth reminisced about when “some dealers had been very engaged with conceptual art, but then there was this return to painting”. He wasn’t naming names. “One said, ‘Joseph, I’ve sold more of these paintings this week than I’ve sold of your work all year. You’ve had us on a diet.’” What else did we find out about Kosuth? That as a teenager, he was “treated like a juvenile delinquent” by his guidance counsellor, until it was discovered that he had “the highest IQ in the high school”. Having gone on about the market, Kosuth had the final word: “There’s too much emphasis on this shit.”
During the Rubells’ annual brunch, the very tall art collector and man-about-town Jean Pigozzi, resplendent in a signature loud shirt, was unmissable as he and Don Rubell toured the family’s collection with a TV crew in tow. It turns out that Pigozzi is to have his own show on the Esquire network, premiering, he told us, in February or March. The show is “basically about people I know”, he said. The gregarious collector does indeed know a lot of people, and he says that, in addition to Calvin Klein and Martha Stewart, there will be more than a few art-world guests, including Kehinde Wiley and Don Rubell. What will it be called? “Ohhh,” Jean mused in his deep baritone, “Pigozzi something.”
This week, Dennis and Debra Scholl unveiled their new collection of Australian Aboriginal art, sensitively displayed in their new loft on Meridian Avenue by the art historian Henry Skerritt. The man is not only an expert on Aboriginal song lines, but has also done a spot of performing himself, as the former frontman of the Aussie folk rock group The Holy See. Dennis revealed that he had developed this particular collecting bug during a decade of making wine Down Under, and among the art in his den, there’s a tell-tale Perspex plaque engraved with the words “life is too short to drink cheap wine”, confirming to sharp-eyed visitors that Mr S still loves the vine, Antipodean or otherwise.
Raising the bar
Perhaps you’ve seen artist Ry Rocklen’s Absolut bar over by the oceanfront, with its furniture made from trophies. “There’s a celebratory aspect to the trophy,” Rocklen says. “It’s a kid’s fantasy.” What you might not know is that he’s thinking of expanding his Trophy Modern line to include Trophy Modern Wood (“That could sell to a place like Soho House”), Trophy Modern Noir, and Trophy Ultra Modern, a luxe line. Meanwhile, over at the new bar created in Art Basel’s Nova section, artists Jim Drain and Naomi Fisher have no such grand aspirations. Ducking into a grove of palm plants that they are calling their “office”, the Miami-based artists explained that the bar’s jungle-like decor is meant to be an oasis in the fair. “It’s a visual representation of why we love Miami,” said Drain. As they spoke, Clive Chung, a coconut chopper from the farmer’s market at Legion Park, on Biscayne and 63rd, chopped coconuts, popped straws in them and handed the drinks to VIPs, leading to an outcropping of abandoned coconuts all around the convention centre.
She saw see-saw
Almost as eagerly anticipated as Don and Mera Rubell’s show of 28 Chinese artists was their artist daughter Jennifer’s now legendary food installation, which every year is renowned for nourishing and entertaining visitors at their breakfast vernissage. And Jennifer’s most recent offering didn’t disappoint, regaling the opening crowds with a spectacular giant see-saw-cum-trestle table, which tilted according to how many rows of the neatly arranged (and very delicious) custard tarts were consumed. When supplies became low at one end, it would abruptly tilt up to encourage visitors to change their location and graze on the other side: “It’s good to keep people on the move” the artist declared, as hungry visitors ranged around her latest gastro-kinetic oeuvre.
One of the talking points of ABMB has been Neugerriemschneider’s booth-cum- lounge which doubles up as an entire Jorge Pardo gesamtkunstwerk, draped with lush fabric and kitted out with chic and comfy sofas and armchairs—and even a discrete tequila bar. In fact, so popular is the piece for those in search of a little R and R that the gallery has had to hire security to keep the numbers down and in compliance with the Miami Fire Department’s restriction to a maximum capacity of 49 people: and as an additional precaution, each day a select few are also emailed a different secret password to ensure—in true Miami style—that the right people get past the cordon.
Shirts versus skins
VIPs had a sneak preview of some of the Public performance pieces at the fair’s welcome party on Tuesday, with the section’s official opening taking place the next night. And there was a rather revealing difference between the two evenings. Last night, the sledgehammer-wielding ladies and gentlemen in Kate Gilmore’s metal-cube-smashing performance were fully clothed, whereas at the fair’s VIP event, they were all bare-chested—a facet of the performance that perhaps attracted a few more, ahem, gawkers than might otherwise have been interested
We go way back
The intrepid New York collectors Susan and Michael Hort are known for their support of emerging artists and galleries, but at this year’s fair, they have bought a painting from Meyer Riegger that reflects their long relationships with artists. Armin Boehm’s J’ai un sché ma du coeur, 2013, a scene of seated figures in a living room, depicts none other than the Horts themselves. On the wall behind them hangs a painting by Andreas Hofer (who goes by the name Andy Hope 1930) of the Horts’ late daughter Rema. When we visited the German gallery’s stand, the Horts’ son Peter was there, and pointed out a third figure in the painting—a nude. “We’re not sure who that is,” he said, “I hope it’s not my wife.”
Showtime, Mr Shafrazi
In the post-digital milieu, the dealer Tony Shafrazi, who has recently returned to making art, has upped the game. At the Best Buddies Art + Friendship charity auction on Tuesday night, he appeared in digital form on a huge HD screen displayed among the sale lots; prospective bidders could talk to him via a webcam. The question was, why? “He didn’t want to be here,” said a friend of Shafrazi’s. “It’s a performance piece,” said the collector Ara Arslanian. Peter Brant, one of the event’s hosts, finally explained. “His piece isn’t here, so he’s showing how he’s working on it.” On the screen, as though on cue, a studio assistant appeared and began rolling something across a canvas. But the “Tony show”, for all its weirdness, was the hit of the night. Within the hour, none other than Leonardo DiCaprio could be found in front of the camera, yelling into it affectionately.
Eye on the prize
The collector and philanthropist Maja Hoffmann received a taste of her own medicine on Lisson Gallery’s stand when she eyeballed Ryan Gander’s Magnus Opus, 2013, a work that not only returns your scrutiny but responds accordingly. It may just be a pair of robotic eyes, activated by a wireless sensor, but the effect is disquietingly human—as are its reactions. Too much staring makes it frown, too many people make it confused and it expresses ultimate displeasure by looking the other way and shutting down completely. However, obviously aware of the importance of Ms Hoffmann and her Luma Foundation, Magnus behaved impeccably in her presence.
In Art Basel Miami Beach’s Positions section, Tang Contemporary Art is facing a bit of a dilemma: visitors to the fair are mistaking its stand for an office and passing right on by. “They look around and don’t come in,” a representative of the gallery laments. It’s easy to understand why: the booth, an installation by the artist Wang Yuyang, is a replica of a typical finance office in Beijing, complete with blind-covered windows and a plaque on the door. Those who go in, however, are rewarded. Nearly every object in the place—printers, phones, computers, chairs, file cabinets, books, a cell phone, even a pack of cigarettes—appears to be breathing, thanks to little motors installed inside each one. “He wants to give life to inanimate objects,” the representative says.
When Marina met Jacolby
Guests at Untitled’s opening gala on Monday were treated to a historical artistic encounter when the young performance and video artist Jacolby Satterwhite, bristling with mini-monitors and resplendent in a spandex suit emblazoned with orgiastic Technicolor images culled from the piece he will be showing in the next Whitney Biennial in 2014, flung himself at the feet of Marina Abramovic. And what advice did performance art’s grande dame have to offer the new kid on the block? “Do the work, and don’t talk to strangers,” she said.
Forgive me, Father Christmas
Finally, there’s a way for Miami’s VIPs to expiate their sins before racking up new ones during the week of art fairs. At Art Basel’s annual welcome party on Tuesday night, the artist David Colman, dressed as St Nick, ran his “Santa Confessional” in the “North Pole Chapel”, AKA the Collins Park rotunda. The booth, which is reminiscent of a gingerbread house, is open on all sides, so all confessions are (gasp!) audible to any spectators who get close enough to hear. “The only message I have for everybody is, I don’t judge,” Colman could be heard saying during one confession. For those who prefer a more private experience, the New York style maven and all-around art guy Glenn O’Brien will conduct his own confessionals as his “altar” ego, Father G, at the Standard Hotel on Friday afternoon. Come all ye faithful.
A Miami miracle
One of Design Miami’s more magical booths has been devised by the Dutch artist Simon Heijdens for the champagne house Perrier-Jouët. The installation is made of suspended and illuminated vessels of water, through which colour and light play in a way that aims to reinterpret the champagne company’s Art Nouveau aesthetic and propel it into the 21st century. “He’s taken water and transformed it into art,” a passer-by was heard to enthuse, before her companion tartly replied: “It would be more impressive if he had turned it into wine.”
No need to RSVP
Anybody driving into South Beach along the MacArthur Causeway after dark this week is due to be treated to the tantalising sight of an extravagant soiree taking place in the panoramic setting of the city’s waterfront. So who is hosting this ultra-VIP extravaganza, with its fluttering drapes, acres of red carpet, banks of parked Cadillacs and striding security, all illuminated by towering spotlights? And how can we get in? The answer is, you can’t. It’s a project (bottom) by the Miami artists Jim Drain and Bhakti Baxter, who have decided to make a statement about the frenzied whirl of restricted-access events this week by declaring: “Everyone is invited and no one may attend.” The ultimate in exclusivity, then.
Washed in with the tide
Hew Locke’s dramatic flotilla of suspended model boats, For Those in Peril on the Sea, 2011, is being unveiled at the Pérez Art Museum Miami this week, but the artist reveals that the work almost lived up to its name when its arrival at the museum suffered a last-minute postponement, courtesy of the vagaries of old Poseidon. “I was waiting and waiting for the boats to arrive as they were being brought to Miami by sea, but the timing clashed with the hurricane season,” the London-based artist explains. “We had to wait for the storms to die down before we could ship them—and it nearly did put the whole piece in peril.”
Tate cancels Christmas trees
Tate appears to have ended its festive tradition of artist-designed Christmas trees. Among the luminaries who have contributed decorated “trees” are Giorgio Sadotti (2011), Gary Hume (2005), Tracey Emin (2002), Craigie Aitchison (1992) and Bill Woodrow (1988). The spot where the trees magically appeared every December has now disappeared into thin air, replaced with Caruso St John’s dramatic new spiral staircase in the entrance rotunda of Tate Britain. A Tate spokeswoman blamed the building work for a lack of a tree this year, but would not comment on future plans. Fortunately, the Victoria and Albert Museum has taken over the baton. Although it too has sometimes had designer trees, this season it has been particularly ambitious with the Red Velvet Tree of Love, created by the English Eccentrics fashion designers Helen and Colin David. Made with 79 blood-red replica antlers, Helen tells us that it symbolises “love or sex, depending on whether one is human or animal”. Unveiled on 3 December, the V&A tree will greet visitors at the main entrance until 6 January.