A mere three weeks after the Chinese government granted Christie’s auction house a licence to operate independently on the mainland, François Pinault, the chief executive officer of Kering—the company that owns Christie’s—announced that he would return to China two bronze Qing dynasty fountainheads that were looted from the imperial Summer Palace near Beijing in the 19th century by French and British troops. Coincidentally, China is Kering’s “fastest-growing market for its luxury goods”, according to the British newspaper, the Financial Times. The Zodiac animal heads, which were officially handed over in Beijing Friday 28 July, had been a point of contention between China and France since their auction as part of Christie’s 2009 sale of works from the collection of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé. A spokeswoman for Christie’s says the offer to return the statues, which was extended to China in April, was “a family decision and is unrelated to Christie’s operations in China and our recent announcement about activities in Shanghai. Christie’s believes in the universal value of cultural heritage. We are delighted that the future of these beautiful and important objects has been resolved. This generous act by the Pinault family is warmly welcomed. We are very proud to have played a role in facilitating this and, going forward, to contributing to the cultural development in China.” A generous act indeed.
The Met knocks one out of the park
Baseball is a characteristically summer sport: slow and leisurely, it relies on no clock, and games last an average of three hours. But it’s probably more exciting today than before, and it’s certainly more rousing than it was during the “dead ball era” from around 1900 to 1919. Throughout that early period in baseball’s history, rules favored the pitching team and a single, badly beaten and dirty ball was often used for an entire game, making homeruns virtually nonexistent. But baseball cards? Those were around even back then, and a selection of nearly 600 from the period will be on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, for the exhibition “Legends of the Dead Ball Era (1900-1919)”, opening on 8 July. The crown jewel of the museum’s 30,000-odd baseball card collection will be on a view: a T206 White Border series of Honus Wagner, a copy of which sold for $2.8m in 2007. (Another copy of the card will be on view at the New York Public Library’s Schwarzman Building through 31 July.) Batter up.
Discovering New York through everyday objects
Marcel Duchamp, the inventor of the readymade, would be proud. On 27 June, the exhibition “Masterpieces of Everyday New York: Objects as Story” will open at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at Parsons The New School for Design, New York. The show, devoted to the commonplace items that weave the narrative of America’s largest city, includes 62 objects, among them a broken umbrella, an antiquated subway token and a toy hand grenade (given to children during Armistice celebrations to promote investment in war bonds). The pieces were chosen by university faculty in a range of departments, such as philosophy, history and sociology, and the experiment extends into the classroom: the show developed from a new undergraduate course that has done away with textbooks and looks at the history of New York through readily available objects.
Hirst's skull rears its head in Doha
More details have seeped out about Damien's Hirst's show due to launch at the Al Riwaq hall in Doha this autumn (10 October-22 January 2014). "[The show] 'Relics' will present the largest collection of Hirst’s work ever assembled," says a press statement (which may raise eyebrows over at Tate Modern where a mammoth survey of the Brit artist's work launched last year). Hirst's diamond-encrusted skull For the Love of God, 2007, will go on show in Qatar, says a spokeswoman for Hirst's company Science Ltd. The bling-tastic piece, covered in 8,601 diamonds, was unveiled at London's White Cube in June 2007 with a £50m price tag, and has since popped up on the exhibition circuit (the skull was seen at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence in 2010 and last year at Tate). Francesco Bonami, who curated the Florence exhibition, will organise Damien's Doha stint, which is overseen by the ubiquitous Qatar Museums Authority.
I’m ready for my close-up Mr McCarthy
Paul McCarthy got a taste of the Hollywood casting process while preparing for his current trio of shows in New York. He described the experience yesterday at a talk with his son and collaborator Damon before the opening of their exhibition “Rebel Dabble Babble” at Hauser & Wirth’s 18th Street gallery (through 26 July). The X-rated video and sculpture installation, inspired by the 1955 film “Rebel Without a Cause”, stars the actors James Franco and Elise Poppers as James Dean and Natalie Wood. “Every time he came into the room we were seduced by him, and we’d buy him lunch,” McCarthy said of Franco. “But then he didn’t show up for meetings. He was supposed to give us $300,000—where was it?” (A spokeswoman for Franco tells us the actor contributed “a significant amount” of money to the project, but declined to elaborate.) Although the film was Franco’s idea, McCarthy quickly decided to make it his own. “What we believe is art is not what Hollywood believes is art,” he said. To find an actress to play Wood, the artist held two auditions: a traditional one and an “acid test”, during which McCarthy asked inappropriate questions about the actresses’ boyfriends and then broke into hysterical laughter. “It went from logical to personal to insane,” the artist said. “You bolt through morality, and now it doesn’t make sense for the actor.” How did he know Poppers was right for the part? “She laughed back,” he said.
Paddle8 graced by a Princess
Paddle8 has made a right royal appointment with the news that Princess Eugenie, the Queen's granddaughter, will join the New York-based, online auction house this autumn. A company spokeswoman told The Art Newspaper that "Eugenie is joining Paddle8 in the fall, though we have no further comment at this time". Eugenie will be in the company of art world "royalty" itself as earlier this month, the Brit artist Damien Hirst and White Cube stalwart Jay Jopling invested in the web firm, which plans to open a London office later this year. Eugenie is becoming a firm fixture in the art world, having interned at Christie's. Today's Daily Mail also points out that "she has also worked at the Royal Collection in Buckingham Palace, where she won praise after queuing and joining fellow workers in the canteen there."
Chagall's grandchildren beef up Tate show
Chagall’s granddaughters, Meret and Bella Meyer, are the largest lenders to Tate Liverpool’s show “Chagall: Modern Master”, which runs until 6 October. Although their loans are labelled as simply “private collection”, they provided a dozen works. These include the Expressionist Self portrait (Head with Nimbus) of 1911. Meret, vice president of the Comité Marc Chagall in Paris, describes this small painting as “a stunning marriage of audacity and courage”. She vividly remembers her grandfather, whom she visited at Saint Paul de Vence from 1966 until his death in 1985. Despite the impression given by his dreamy paintings, he was always “focused and driven by what he wished to accomplish", she recalls.
Paul's enchanted forest fills Park Avenue Armory
A dazed troop of journalists filed out of the Park Avenue Armory this morning after the press opening of Paul McCarthy’s graphic installation WS, which he produced in collaboration with his son Damon McCarthy The "mother of all gesamtkunstwerk", as it was described by the Armory’s artistic director Alex Poots, is a disturbing reinterpretation of the Snow White fairy tale that takes on Hollywood, the porn industry and Disney. “It’s tough”, warned fellow curator Tom Eccles as reporters entered the Armory’s drill hall, which has been filled with two huge film sets of a vast enchanted forest and a replica of the artist’s childhood home, which now contains the debris of a house-party gone seriously wrong. Jumbo screens stream seven hours of depraved footage as “White Snow”, the grotesque dwarves and Paul McCarthy (as “Walt Paul”) “descend into hell”. We spoke to Paul McCarthy while he was working on the Snow White-inspired series in 2011 and have reposted the interview online in which he tells us about his background in film production (clearly evident in the current installation). Much like the movies, this work of art comes with a rating: viewers must be 17 years of age and older to enter.
A stitch while doing time
Among the embroidered cushions, quilts, bags and hangings on sale at an exhibition of prisoners' work organised by Fine Cell Work was a limited edition piece designed and signed by the artist Gavin Turk. Other colourful and droll embroidery on sale last night (17 June) in the historic heart of the British legal profession, the Middle Temple, London, included an Elvis-as-jailhouse-rocker cushion by Mr Wright, £225 each, and another cushion, this time inspired by Johnny Cash, bearing the words: "Because you're mine I walk the line" by Mr Davis, £65 each. Like the limited edition Gavin Turk piece, the cushions and other works were made by men and women detained at Her Majesty's pleasure. Fine Cell Work is a social enterprise that helps people achieve something more worthwhile in their life than a custodial sentence. Its volunteers work in 30 UK prisons teaching inmates needlework. Making and selling the results can build pride and a sense of self worth while raising income that helps support their families. The Gavin Turk piece is an edition of ten, £1,200 for a set of four, £300 each. The artist and Fine Cell Work collaborated on "Gavin & Turk", a show at Ben Brown Fine Arts, London, in 2012, featuring more than 30 works by Turk that were hand-stitched by prisoners.
Why the Duke said "Gadzooks!"
The young British painter Stuart Pearson Wright caused a stir in 2003 when his (first) portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh didn't go down well with either its royal sitter or the Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), which commissioned the work. When the Duke saw the unconventional portrait he exclaimed: "Gadzooks!" and said "lots of other things besides", Pearson Wright tells the Mail on Sunday. The newspaper reveals that the work, showing the Duke in the buff with a fly on his shoulder, was later sold to a US collector and now hangs in his Florida home. All's well that ends well: Pearson Wright's second, head-only portrait of the Duke (without any reference to Dutch vanitas) was deemed reverential enough to grace the walls of the RSA's London home.
Kanye digs Prouvé
Who knew that the upper echelons of Art Basel had a rock god in their midst? Just before the hip-hop superstar Kanye West strutted his stuff this week in a special Design Miami Basel gig, Art Basel’s director, Marc Spiegler, took to the stage in a white bomber jacket and chatted to the crowds like a born performer. When Kanye finally appeared (move over Marc), he plugged his new album, “Yeezus”, and waxed lyrical about his favourite furniture designers, including Jean Royère and Jean Prouvé, who are no doubt on his shopping list in Basel. Kanye, dressed casually in a fetching grey hoodie, compared his working methods with those of Andy Warhol, telling the assembled masses that he too appropriated samples (rather than art) from musicians such as Ray Charles and Michael Jackson. At one point, the pop star said he felt like Steve Jobs addressing the crowd. “Right now, it’s a fight against the separation and constant dumbing-down of culture, and I’m standing in the middle of it,” he hollered. But the biggest shocker of the night was his declaration that he was a “commercial celebrity boyfriend”. Well, Warhol had Edie, after all.
I believe I can buy
Pop stars are all over Art Basel this week (hi again, Kanye), but even eagle-eyed aficionados of high (and low) culture might have missed a dreamy portrait of teen idol Justin Bieber (above) by the artist Elizabeth Peyton at Sadie Coles’s stand. “I’m not sure there’s that many ‘Beliebers’ in Basel,” quipped a gallery assistant (note to readers: a ‘Belieber’ is “a person who loves Justin Bieber and ‘beliebes’ in everything that he can do”, according to the Urban Dictionary. Good to know). But among the crowds of critics and curators, there is one diehard fan of the pop sensation: a European collector has snapped up Never Say Never (Justin), 2013, so somebody out there ‘beliebes’ in Justin—or at least in his resale value.
It’s good to talk
Predictably slim pickings are now to be had at Jonathan Horowitz’s Free Store in Unlimited, with art-worlders inevitably proving happier to take than to donate. But, much to the surprise of everyone involved, the swap shop has been fulfilling an unexpected social function: several Basellanders who happened to be moving house this week found it a useful place to deposit items of furniture too heavy or too cumbersome to transport. On a more poignant note, a local lady whose daughter ended her own life has also become a regular visitor to the store, finding it both a sympathetic final destination for many of her child’s former possessions as well as a good place to come and talk.
A final früstück?
After 11 years of putting the Kunsthaus Baselland on the art map, its director, Sabine Schaschl (above), is now off to lead Zürich’s Museum Haus Konstruktiv, and her swansong exhibition finds her departing on a highly dramatic, and topical, note. The surging waters, billowing clouds and toppling buildings in many of the films and paintings featured in Laurent Grasso’s current show, “Disasters & Miracles” (until 30 June), chime ominously with Europe’s bursting rivers and the fogs of tear gas in Taksim Square, Istanbul. But Schaschl’s departure also leaves Basel visitors with concerns of a more gastronomic nature: will the incoming director, Ines Goldbach, continue her predecessor’s esteemed legacy of laying on the museum’s legendarily lavish breakfasts during the fair? The ample spreads have, over the years, played a role almost as important as the exhibition
programme in enticing Art Basel VIPs to this somewhat far-flung space out by the St Jakob Park.
Hitting the beach
A whole new dimension to surfing the zeitgeist was offered during the Art Basel Conversation devoted to museums and austerity, when, on being quizzed about Greece’s economic woes, the director of the Kunsthalle Athena, Marina Fokidis, declared that “when things go wrong, we can always go to the beach”. When several members of the (landlocked) Swiss audience responded with disbelieving laughter, Ms Fokidis—who draws no salary and heads an institution that relies almost entirely on donations—was vehement in her response, saying: “No! No! It helps!” Good to know that it’s not only the tourists who are benefiting from her country’s natural assets.
Friends and neighbours
He’s assembled gospel choirs, has formed temporary unions and is renowned for his regenerative recycling of derelict buildings in the run-down boroughs of his native Chicago, but Theaster Gates insists: “I have never seen myself as an activist.” Instead, the artist, who titled his first UK show “My Labor Is My Protest”, prefers to describe what he does as “neighbourly”, declaring that “you can invest in ideas as a neighbour as well as a venture capitalist”. The latter reference probably struck a more relevant note with the high-end crowd who were listening to Gates in conversation with Tina Brown (above, with Gates), the editor-in-chief of Newsweek and the Daily Beast website. The talk was a prelude to a lavish dinner in the courtyard of Basel’s Kunstmuseum, co-hosted by Brown, Dasha Zhukova, Daphne Guinness, the Credit Suisse chairman Urs Rohner and Creative Artist Agency bigwig Bryan Lourd. As Gates went on to describe his plans to renovate a former 1920s bank on the South Side of Chicago into a creative hub, it was hard not to ponder the fact that the entire net worth of the assembled company—which included Eli Broad, Peter Brant and family (including his über-stylish sons), Alberto Mugrabi, Rolf Sachs and Jean Pigozzi—could probably have refurbished the entire city centre.
Getting funky with Solange
The art bar installation by the American artist Mickalene Thomas, nestled within Basel’s Volkshaus, will no doubt draw hordes of fairgoers hell-bent on going back in time. Better Days, commissioned by the Absolut Art Bureau, is named after the parties Sandra Bush, the artist’s late mother and muse, threw for her theatre group in New Jersey in the 1970s. Every detail of Thomas’s immersive, kitsch-tastic experience (even the plug sockets are American) evokes the period that connoisseurs would rather forget, with faux wood panelling, psychedelic furnishings and punch—the house-party beverage of the era—available in three flavours: “Phuck U1”, “Phuck U2” and “Phuck U3”. But one way in which Basel differs from New Jersey is crowd control. “Back in the day, they didn’t care if the house burnt down at [these] parties. In Switzerland, things are definitely more ordered,” Thomas says, stressing the strict door policy. Let’s hope the Swiss were ready for Solange Knowles (above), the indie little sister of pop behemoth Beyoncé, who performed last night, prompting the good burghers of Basel to let down their hair and dust off their gold lamé hotpants.
Mad about the boy
The Turkish artist Kutlug Ataman (right) is very gay—so says a certificate, issued by the Turkish military police in 2011, that pulls no punches about the artist’s less than macho manner. Under “findings”, the official document sternly notes that “his self care is good, his temperament is calm, his sociability is respectful, talk effeminate, voice effeminate, his mimics and gestures are effeminate… thoughts concerning being non-interested in women and being interested in men are at the forefront… playing girl-games with girls since his childhood.” This provocative and puzzling proclamation of homosexuality, Fiction [Jarse], 2011, can be found at Art Basel at the Thomas Dane Gallery. And—no surprise from the days of “Don’t ask, don’t tell”—the gloriously “effeminate” Ataman was deemed “unfit for military service”.
Time you bought a watch
Time was ticking at the lavish celebration this week marking the Swiss luxury watchmaker Audemars Piguet’s first year as a partner with Art Basel. The French disco giants C2C were the special attraction at the swish event held at Basel’s Volkshaus, but the Gallic turntablists were less good at timekeeping than their hosts, as more than 300 guests waited (and waited) patiently to see the DJs strut their stuff. The dashing Euro-popsters finally appeared and proceeded to charm the masses, who were left pondering the eye-catching projections of work dotted around the venue by Dan Holdsworth, the British photographer commissioned to document the Vallée de Joux, otherwise known as the timeless birthplace of Audemars Piguet.
Be kind, rewind
The Parcours map may be notoriously difficult to navigate, but the various establishments hosting works of art in the Klingental neighbourhood are all super-helpful, and none more so than the proprietors of the Moccaraba coffee and tea house. Klingental’s favourite roasters have temporarily assumed the identity of an importer/exporter of obsolete VCR players, courtesy of the Dutch artist Joep van Liefland. Not only have the owners of the aromatic shop allowed their premises to be colonised by stacks of defunct video equipment and a display of genuine-looking personal ads offering machines for sale, they have also become adept at fending off retro fans, gently informing them that, contrary to appearances, the individual machines cannot be bought—but that the price for the entire installation, Video Palace 33: The Living Dead 1264, 2011, is €35,000. Let’s hope the artist’s representative, Galerie Gebrüder Lehmann, is offering Moccaraba a commission.
Make a wish
As every silver-tongued dealer knows, there are many ways to add value to
a work of art, but few take this as literally as the Indian artist L.N. Tallur, whose “wish tree” sculpture Chromatophobia, on Nature Morte’s stand, invites visitors to “take out a coin from your pocket” and insert it into the work using “the hammer provided for this noble cause”, while making a wish. For the wish to come true, however, the artist stipulates that the donor should “CLEAN UP your mind from all worries, ugly thoughts and bad actions”—something that might prove a challenge for many Art Basel attendees.
Is 2013 the year of William Morris? The Victorian craftsman, social reformer and trendsetter has a starring role in Jeremy Deller’s British pavilion at the Venice Biennale, and his former family home in east London snagged the UK’s coveted Museum of the Year award. Contemporary artists’ love affair with all things Arts and Crafts continues apace in Art Basel, with Morris’s distinctive floral designs finding a blingy new incarnation as the vivid backdrop for Kehinde Wiley’s latest series of portraits, one of which adorns Stephen Friedman’s stand. The series is due to be shown at the London gallery this autumn, and with a special project by Yinka Shonibare planned for the William Morris Gallery next year, the popularity of the 19th-century radical from Walthamstow shows no signs of abating.
Cop a load of this
Tired of the scrum at the Kunsthalle bar? Can’t face yet another bout of beats spun by the auctioneer-turned-DJ Simon de Pury? Help is now at hand in the form of Confiserie Copley, the soothingly decadent pop-up salon opened by the dealers Adam Lindemann and Paul Kasmin. The space offers those suffering from “fairtigue” the comforting alternative of hot chocolate, cognac, cherry kirsch and unlimited cigarettes in an elegant first-floor suite above Confiserie Schiesser, Basel’s oldest chocolate shop, which has occupied its Marktplatz site since the 19th century. Open every night between 6pm and 1am, the hedonist’s haven is adorned with an installation of risqué work by the maverick artist William Copley, whose saucy nudes also appear on the copious handmade chocolates provided by the sweet-maker. With chocolate, sex, alcohol and art, it’s a Swiss mainstay in the making.
Feelin’ a feline
It’s not every day you’re asked to tickle a cat’s testicles. But this feline fondling is taking place on a daily basis at the shared stand of Carpenters Workshop Gallery and Steinitz at Design Miami Basel, where visitors can see (and stroke) a sculpture of a midnight-hued moggy—The Black Cat, 2013, designed by Studio Job—whose eyes light up once his nether regions are rubbed. The moggy, which is proving a hit (it comes in an edition of eight, all sold at a mere €28,000 each), prompted one well-known Miami design collector to remark: “If you don’t perk up when your balls are brushed, you’re dead, really.”
Off with their heads
The fact that they never even met, let alone exchanged any bodily fluids, hasn’t deterred Pablo Bronstein from devising an irresistibly entitled performance piece, Marie Antoinette and Robespierre engage in an irritable post-coital conversation, which presents the elegant 18th-century individuals having what can only be called a daily couch-off on Herald St gallery’s stand. The artist describes this exercise in artistic licence as “a sloppy tableau vivant”, although the London dancers portraying the reclining pair, who must hold their poses every day throughout the fair, may have another name for it.
A reflection of society?
It is a well-established fact that artists always love to find new ways to bite the hands that feed them—only equalled by the extent to which collectors revel in the exquisite pain of being bitten. It is no surprise, then, that, no sooner had the fair opened, a pair of masochistic takers were immediately prepared to pay $55,000 apiece for the two editions of Rirkrit Tiravanija’s polished stainless steel mirror, Untitled (Rich Bastards Beware), 2013, at Gavin Brown's Enterprise.
Footsore and fancy free
Everyone knows that aching tootsies are an unfortunate, if inevitable, by-product of tramping the aisles at art fairs, hence the popularity of this year’s Nationale Suisse Art Prize winners, Michael Meier and Christoph Franz. The artists’ footbath installation at Liste pays homage to the building’s previous life as the Warteck brewery and also offers succour to the tired fairgoer, recycling the “brewers’ grains” residue from beer production in a chic copper vat, in which tired fairgoers can immerse their throbbing toes. Seating, towels and cakes of soap are all provided as part of the piece, but despite desperate pleas from footsore visitors, the artists are declining to offer a personalised foot massage as an extra performative element.
Brother, where art thou?
A striking trio of dashing, well-connected brothers is making its presence felt at the fairs on the Messeplatz this week. The Los Angeles-based Haas siblings, Niki and Simon, are showing a selection of hirsute benches and chairs adorned with wooden horns and cast bronze hooves at Design Miami Basel. The pieces, at R20th Century Design’s stand, were inspired by the hairy monster in Where the Wild Things Are. “We can’t stop stroking them,” said a keen gallery assistant, hand straying towards a piece from the collection, which is catchingly titled “Beast Feast”. The brother-designers, meanwhile, who were spotted dashing through the aisles of Art Basel, move in very starry circles, citing the film star Tobey Maguire as a friend. When asked if they’d seen Tobey’s stint in the blockbuster “The Great Gatsby”, Niki and Simon admitted they’d not yet seen the 1920s-era flick, even though “all our friends are in it”. Their other headline-hitting Gatsby chums include none other than the swoonsome art aficionado and movie heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio, who ventured into Art Basel yesterday accompanied by (you guessed it) another Haas wunderkind, the actor Lukas, making this year’s fair a decidedly family affair.
Better to give than to receive
Jonathan Horowitz’s Free Store, 2009-13, outside Unlimited implores Art Baselers to “bring in stuff that you can’t use, take stuff away that you can”. With promising early donations, such as the very first snowboards owned by Art Basel’s director, Marc Spiegler, and his wife Erica, a pair of genuine aeroplane seats from Eva Presenhuber, a clutch of doggy bags bearing the image of Gavin Brown’s pooch Dotti, a very chic jug donated by a light-fingered guest at the previous night’s Maja Hoffmann dinner and a pair of keyrings paying homage to the Turkish situation emblazoned with the image of Atatürk, business has been brisk, to say the least. But will the notoriously acquisitive art crowd continue to give as much as it seems determined to receive, and thus achieve the artist’s aim to “generate an alternative economy in parallel to that of the art fair”?
Slumming it in style
Chuck out the cashmere, don that sackcloth and reach for those ashes! Anyone with a finger near the art-world pulse knows that current trends find comfort to be distinctly déclassé: from Ai Weiwei’s prison cell in Venice to Huang Yong Ping’s terracotta remake of Osama Bin Laden’s compound, and Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe’s pungent deserted countercultural enclave Artichoke Underground, 2012/13, in Unlimited, confinement and subjugation are all the rage. The theme continues in the new Messeplatz, where the sleekness of Herzog and de Meuron’s design is mitigated by Tadashi Kawamata’s Favela Café, 2013. But, much to the relief of well-heeled fairgoers, the theme does not extend as far as the menu, with even the faintly street-ish kofte and falafel at reassuringly exclusive prices.
If Oscar Murillo’s mega-installation in Unlimited is a tad too pricey, bargain deals can be found on the stand of Carlos/Ishikawa gallery at the Liste satellite fair. Not only are they showing the artist’s Bingo Boutique installation, they’re also staging thrice-daily domino games, with winners each taking away one of the artist’s customised counterfeit Comme des Garçons t-shirts. Visitors may even get the added bonus of clicking the counters with the charismatic artist himself.
In moments of quiet contemplation, have you ever wondered how many women the US comedian Jerry Seinfeld dated in his popular TV series, which ran from 1989 to 1998? Fifty-seven, according to the artist Richard Prince, who has merged each of these fictional girlfriends into a composite image available at Two Palms Press (2.1/Q6; the work is available in 57 editions at $15,000 each). Prince cheekily tweeted the work after a US court ruled in his favour in a copyright appeal case against the photographer Patrick Cariou in late April. “Richard came to see the finished result the day the verdict was announced, and he was in the best mood,” says David Lasry, the founder of Two Palms.
School daze (circa 1990)
The colour scheme for Art Basel’s VIP programme appears to have got the US art adviser Todd Levin in a lather. On his Facebook page, Levin has posted a picture of an Art Basel VIP card, declaring: “Let the games begin! But I just don’t know about these colours. Does raspberry and silver say ‘First Choice VIP’ to you? Because to me, it says Springfield High School official prom colours of 1997.”
His own biggest fan
The Manila-based property magnate Robbie Antonio is not shy, having sat to have his portrait done by 30 artists so far, including Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami, who have all risen to the challenge of portraying Antonio’s fine features on canvas (the series has the subtle moniker of “Obsession”). A recent piece in the US edition of Vanity Fair points out that “one thing that has helped the artists to participate—beyond the $50,000 to $100,000 that Antonio is paying for each piece—is that he has done his homework”. Robbie is now planning to showcase, well, Robbie, by showing the self-portrait series in his own residence-cum-museum in Manila, designed by the starchitect Rem Koolhaas. The performance artist Marina Abramovic has installed a basement room in “Stealth”, Antonio’s rather self-referential new pad, where he will be forced to contemplate life, the universe and, of course, himself—on a bed surrounded by crystals. Abramovic gave Antonio, who is due to attend Art Basel, the option of sitting in silence for set periods of 60 minutes. “Can I do 30?” asked the energetic collector, who candidly admits that he “needs to calm down”.
Wobbly welcome to Sunnylands
It is quite a week for Sunnylands, the former winter home in southern California of Walter Annenberg, the late art collector, media tycoon and friend of US presidents. The mid-century modern house in Rancho Mirage, near Palm Springs, which is surrounded by a private golf course, is closed to the public for the summit meeting of the Chinese President Xi Jinping with US President Obama. To mark the event, Heather James Fine Art of nearby Palm Desert has put a wobbly statue of Chairman Mao on display outside its Portola Avenue space. Mao Never Down has a "globular base that’s weighted so that no matter how hard it’s pushed, it still rights itself" reports the Palm Springs newspaper, The Desert Sun. The work by Beijing-based artist Zheng Lu was originally commissioned by a US collector to stand/wobble besides his backyard swimming pool.
Ready, set, go
Cyclists at their marks! In the run up (or should that be peddle up?) to next year’s Tour de France, Yorkshire, which will serve as the starting place for the famous cycling race, is hosting the first ever arts and cultural festival connected to the event from the end of March. This will include new art commissions “to animate the Grand Départ and the route of the Tour de France through Yorkshire”—which, we’ve discovered from the county’s website “is widely regarded as one of the spiritual heartlands of UK cycling”. This week, Arts Council England awarded £1m towards the project and the organisers hope to secure a further £1m of match funding.
A search is also underway to find a director to run the 100-day-long festival and any suggestions for works or events can be submitted online at http://letour.yorkshire.com/artsfestival. Bonne courage!
Inspiration in a bottle
Creative inspiration sometimes comes in liquid form. Just ask the folks at the scotch distillery Glenfiddich, based in Dufftown, Scotland, who have announced seven artists to be included in the distillery’s 12th annual “prestigious whisky residency”, according to a press release. The artists will be invited to spend three months working—and presumably drinking fine single malt scotch, aged at least 12 years per Glenfiddich’s standard offering—in the small Scottish town, with the fruits of their labour to be exhibited in the Glenfiddich Distillery Gallery. “Creativity requires inspiration, space and freedom and the Glenfiddich distillery is the perfect studio for this”, says the programme curator Andy Fairgrieve, who curiously did not add that it is also the perfect place to find delicately crafted alcoholic encouragement.
Searching for a familiar face
This spring, the Berlin-based design studio Onformative launched “Google Faces”, a computer programme that searches Google Maps to identify landscapes that resemble a human visage (a psychological phenomena known as pareidolia). Tracking patterns of light and shadow, the software has already identified scores of convincing faces—and it has only processed 5% of the earth. “The biggest challenge is definitely the tremendous number of images to scan,” says Cedric Keifer, the co-founder of Onformative, who started the project as an experiment in his free time. “Who knows what else the bot will find out there.”
Caulfield and Hume double bill
The turn out was impressive for the private view of the "Patrick Caulfield" and "Gary Hume" double bill at Tate Britain last night (3 June). Assembled in the adjoining galleries was a who's who of the London art world, many just back from the opening week of the Venice Biennale: artists included Sarah Lucas, Mat Collishaw, Mark Wallinger, Grayson Perry (as Grayson not his alter-ego Claire) and Antony Gormley. The sculptor Anthony Caro, looking sprightly and dapper, seemed to be enjoying both shows, particularly the Caulfields. The octogenarian British artist was spotted doing his bit to boost the Tate's retail figures, buying his own copy of the Caulfield exhibition catalogue. Hume's glossy yellow frame window paintings were also on sale in the Tate's shop: a snip at £120 per glossy window pane. Entitled One Thousand Windows, 2013, they were flying off the wall. The parallel shows open to the public tomorrow (5 June-1 September).
Kate Moss in a new light
Another day, another representation of Kate Moss... the British supermodel, who recently visited the Art Basel Hong Kong art fair, is one of the art world's favourite muses. The light artist Chris Levine, in collaboration with the make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury, has created a hologram-esque, 3D depiction of the headline-hitting beauty entitled She’s Light (Laser), 2013. The portrait is the centrepiece of a survey of Levine's work at the Fine Art Society in London (until 15 June). She’s Light (Laser), 2013, is, says a press statement, a taster for Levine's official "holographic stereogram portrait" of Kate Moss, She’s Light (Pure), also created in conjunction with Tilbury, that will be unveiled in the windows of Selfridges in London on 17 June.