In The Frame

Meow-scow here we come


“Anna and the Hermitage Cats”

China has panda diplomacy, and, in these turbulent times, Russia has Hermitage cat diplomacy. Last week, Russia’s consulate in New York hosted the presentation of the third edition of “Anna and the Hermitage Cats” by Mary Ann Allin, based on the author’s visit to Russia’s most important museum with her granddaughter. Allin, who has spent 30 years developing US-Russia culture projects, told The Art Newspaper that she has visited the museum’s famed feline guardians almost annually over the past decade, and while she doesn’t have a particular affinity for cats, she recognises their significance: “I find the cats to be a useful way to help people all over the world understand that we have many common interests—art, music, cats.” The Hermitage’s general director Mikhail Piotrovsky, whose personal letter opens the book, has said “the Hermitage cats offer the world an example of human kindness that serves to promote peace and understanding”. On a practical level, proceeds from the book will help fund the feeding and care of the cats, which number up to 60 and are a source of endless inspiration, spawning a musical adaption of the book as well. “Hermitage Cats Save the Day”, with a jazz score by Chris Brubeck, has been performed in Russia and the US. Moscow’s Russian National Orchestra plans to mount a new production in 2015-16, Allin said.

From In The Frame
Published online: 20 October 2014

This month:

 

Kara’s candid camera


Walker says she has “a lot of footage” of people posing with her sugar sculpture, which she is using to create a new work of art.

The hashtag #vulvaselfie is rarely applied to works of art, but Kara Walker’s colossal sculpture A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby, installed in the now defunct Domino Sugar Factory earlier this year, inspired an unexpected Instagram trend of people pretending to emerge from the sculpture’s nether regions and cup her breasts. Now, it seems that the artist will have her revenge. “I was spying,” she told the Los Angeles Times this week. Walker sent a video team to the site and has “a lot of footage”, which she is using to create a new work of art. “I put a giant 10-foot vagina in the world and people respond to giant 10-foot vaginas in the way that they do. It's not unexpected. Maybe I'm sick,” she says in the interview. “Human behavior is so mucky and violent and messed-up and inappropriate. And I think my work draws on that. It comes from there. It comes from responding to situations like that, and it pulls it out of an audience.”

From In The Frame
Published online: 19 October 2014

Winston van Gogh?


View of the Mediterranean near San Raphael

A small, striking painting of a shimmering southern French seascape is proving popular at Richard Green’s Frieze Masters stand, though the man behind the piece may surprise connoisseurs. A fairgoer browsing the stand was overheard saying that the work “must be a Van Gogh”. But the exquisite picture is by none other than Winston Churchill. The 1923 painting, View of the Mediterranean near San Raphael, would have gone up in smoke if Churchill had his way: in 1945, the elder statesman was about to put the work on a bonfire built in the gardens of Chartwell, his family home in Kent. “I shall never finish this now and you may as well burn it like the other [another old canvas],” Churchill told his bodyguard, R. Astley Richards, who cannily asked “his [boss’s] permission to keep it as a souvenir”. The work, priced at £225,000, was eventually acquired by the late author Roald Dahl, adding extra sparkle to the painting’s provenance.

From In The Frame
Published online: 18 October 2014

Go fig-ure

Mature art-worlders may have fond memories of “Fig-1”, the ever-changing Soho project organised by Mark Francis (now a director at Gagosian Gallery) and supported by White Cube’s Jay Jopling, which, in 2000, featured 50 multidisciplinary exhibitions and events in 50 weeks, with participants ranging from Will Self and Patti Smith to Richard Hamilton, Philip Treacy and Sam Taylor-Wood. This dynamic exhibition model has been reactivated under the title “Fig-2”. Supported by Outset and housed in the studio at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, the new incarnation will be organised by the curator Fatos Ustek, the associate curator of the tenth Gwangju Biennial and a guest tutor at the Vision Forum at Sweden’s Linköping university. “Fig-2” is due to open its first show on 5 January, and aims to be as boundary-blurring as “Fig” the first.

From In The Frame
Published online: 17 October 2014

Dexter the droll


A wee joke

The UK artist Dexter Dalwood is known for his incisive opinions, so it is no surprise to see the 2010 Turner Prize nominee’s droll take on key works at Frieze Masters as part of a special social-media artist-led tour. Dalwood’s esteem for Rodin’s The Storm, 1900, available at Daniel Katz gallery, is clear on his Instagram account, which is dotted with hashtags such as #itwasalwaysyouAuguste. Dalwood is also rather taken by a piece by Ed Ruscha from 1967, at Anthony Meier Fine Arts, which has the fetching title Wee Wee. Dexter’s response? #gottogo.

From In The Frame
Published online: 17 October 2014

Jazzing up the Iron Duke


Craig-Martin's The Iron Duke

The state rooms of Apsley House at Hyde Park Corner have been heaving with a crowd of aristocrats and high-end historians, all gathered to celebrate the publication of Wellington Portrayed, a weighty catalogue raisonné of images of the first Duke of Wellington, the victor of Waterloo. It has been compiled by Charles Wellesley, the heir to the Dukedom, who is also known as the Marquess of Douro. The guests were treated to a high-tech digital depiction of The Iron Duke, commissioned by Lord Douro, who has brought his ancestor into the 21st century with the help of the artist Michael Craig-Martin. How the famously reactionary soldier-statesman would have responded to being portrayed in the vivid hues of Craig-Martin’s randomly chosen, constantly changing colour palette can only be imagined.

From In The Frame
Published online: 17 October 2014

Andy lives on


Andy Kaufman

Despite his cult status in the US, the reputation of the late “Saturday Night Live” regular Andy Kaufman has not extended to the UK. But this is set to change with Jonathan Berger’s Frieze project, for which he has not only assembled artefacts and memorabilia to produce what he describes as an “investigative portrait” of the eccentric actor-comedian, but has also flown over Kaufman’s friends, family and collaborators, who are on hand throughout the fair to reminisce about the maverick and often enigmatic figure who (reputedly) died in 1984. They include the musician (and bassist for Bob Dylan) Gregg Sutton, who is performing the theme tune of Kaufman’s 1979 Carnegie Hall variety show at 6.30pm every day, and Wendy Polland, or “Little Wendy”, Kaufman’s long-time collaborator and stage sister. There are unconfirmed rumours that Kaufman’s lounge-singing alter ego Tony Clifton might be making an end-of-week appearance—so watch that (project) space.

From In The Frame
Published online: 17 October 2014

Last tango in Montparnasse


A fictional collector’s pied-à-terre at Helly Nahmad’s stand. Photo: All rights Chris Tubbs Photography

Helly Nahmad’s utterly convincing re-creation of a fictitious elderly Italian collector’s 1968 Montparnasse apartment has been a talking point of Frieze Masters. But although the top-notch works by Dubuffet, Picasso, Miró, Giacometti et al that line the walls are the responsibility of the gallery, it is the surrounding tide of period clutter—from the piles of topical periodicals and magazines to the cheesy knick-knacks, from the stubs of Gauloises in the ashtrays to the lived-in bed linen—that gives the installation-cum-booth its arresting authenticity. The man behind this forensically accurate assemblage is the set designer Robin Brown, who confesses that he “begged, borrowed, bought and rented” the astonishing array of artefacts and ephemera, in what became not so much an assignment as a labour of love. In between immersing himself in 1960s Paris, Mr Brown also found time to steep himself in 1970s northern English youth culture as the set designer of the film “Northern Soul”, which goes on general release across the country this weekend.

From In The Frame
Published online: 17 October 2014

Bey and Jay-Z scrub up well


The power couple. Photo: © Neil P. Mockford/GC Images

Pop royalty made a state visit to London this week: Jay-Z and Beyoncé started their arty trip with dinner at the Arts Club in Dover Street before heading to Regent’s Park later in the week for a private after-hours art-fair tour, accompanied by their art adviser, Jeanne Greenberg of New York’s Salon 94 gallery. Although Ms Greenberg’s smiley-bedecked booth was at Frieze London, Frieze Masters was the couple’s destination of choice. The pair were particularly taken with the mise-en-scène of Helly Nahmad’s booth, where they were photographed in domestic bliss in the kitchenette alongside a sink full of dirty dishes. Things then turned more contemporary as they sallied down to the mean streets of south London to visit Anish Kapoor’s Camberwell studio. But Mr Kapoor wasn’t prepared to reveal whether he was going to rustle up a mini-Mittal tower for their back yard.

From In The Frame
Published online: 17 October 2014

Making Saddam’s day


Something to smile about

Art fairs are not usually places where fun and laughter reign, but the Salon 94 gallery at Frieze London is determined to tickle your funny bone with its selection of works focusing on smiley faces by big names such as Picasso, Richard Prince and Marilyn Minter. A corner of the booth houses an especially jolly display: the first international exhibition of works from the Smile Face Museum, which was founded by the curator Mark Sachs in his basement in Silver Spring, Maryland, in 1992. Sachs is obsessed with paraphernalia daubed with cheeky grins—or, as the gallery’s literature solemnly points out: “The archive documents the smile face’s presence in film, TV, music, art, literature and vernacular photography.” A poster for a 1992 show at the museum presents gleeful testaments from celebrities, including this glowing tribute: “After I saw the museum, I really had a nice day.” The words apparently came from the cheeriest of dictators: Saddam Hussein.

From In The Frame
Published online: 16 October 2014

Bali-bound


Collector Budi Tek

The Indonesian-Chinese collector Budi Tek’s epic Yuz Museum, housed in a 9,000 sq. m former aircraft hangar in Shanghai’s West Bund Cultural Corridor, is not even a year old, but the business tycoon is already planning a new venture. Speaking at a Frieze collector’s talk yesterday, Tek revealed that—despite being energetically courted by the Singaporean authorities—he intends to build a new and permanent home for some of his more capacious works on Bali. Not only does he already own a large swathe of the Indonesian island, but he also has a good Balinese friend with a cement factory and another with a glass factory, both of whom have willingly offered their services. Whether the international art world’s best-known resident of Bali, the artist Ashley Bickerton, will be included in this local venture remains to be seen.

From In The Frame
Published online: 16 October 2014

Holy smoke!


Just say no

The news that a health-conscious commission is urging Mayor Boris Johnson to ban smoking in London’s outdoor public spaces has already sent a frisson through the notoriously nicotine-addicted art world. But there’s some temporary relief for the al fresco smokers of Frieze, with the realisation that it would require an agreement from the Royal Parks before their outdoor puffings could be prohibited. If only the chain-smoking Princess Margaret were still alive and chugging on her Chesterfields, the whiff of any such curtailment would have been quickly stubbed out.

From In The Frame
Published online: 16 October 2014

Ab fab


Muscle suits at the ready

Catherine Wood, the curator of contemporary art and performance at the Tate, is, naturally, an expert on live art—but she didn’t expect to take part in a performance herself. At 8pm on 23 October, the Basel-based artist Alexandra Bachzetsis will present a new online performance commissioned for the BMW Tate Live performance room (log on via the Tate’s YouTube channel). Wood will conduct a Q&A straight after the performance, but Bachzetsis has requested that the esteemed curator get into the spirit of the piece by donning a “muscle” suit that shows the skeletal features of the body (think of a sinewy superhero costume). “Bachzetsis is thinking of the talk as part of the choreography,” Wood says, flexing her abs in preparation.

From In The Frame
Published online: 16 October 2014

Bowls, sweat and tears


Caution: contains “synthetic sweat” and “synthetic tears”

Fair-goers may think that two stainless steel bowls surreptitiously placed on the floor of Standard (Oslo)’s stand are gathering water from a dripping ceiling (the downpours have been biblical this week). But the basins were created by the artist Nina Beier, who filled the shiny receptacles with “synthetic sweat” and “synthetic tears” bought from a German company apparently called Synthetic Urine. This smorgasbord of artificial bodily fluids, entitled Human Resource Industries, is priced at €4,000—an eye-watering tag that might bring real tears to your eyes.

From In The Frame
Published online: 16 October 2014

Casting couch this way


Getting cosy on the couch

Any Frieze London visitor with stars in their eyes should head directly to Mathew Gallery’s booth, where, from 12pm to 4pm every day, the young London-based co-operative Villa Design Group is auditioning members of the public for its film adaptation of the often scandalous memoirs of Jean Royère, the French interior designer who worked for the royal families of the Middle East throughout the 1970s. To bring out the very best in the participants, the stand has been transformed into a luxurious garden oasis-cum-producer’s office, complete with bespoke directors’ chairs and—of course—a pelt-draped casting couch, all of which channel Royère’s very distinct aesthetic. Successful candidates will be informed by 10 December, and shooting begins early next year in Beirut, Abu Dhabi and Marrakech—perfect locations for a little winter sunshine…

From In The Frame
Published online: 16 October 2014

Lisson Gallery gets down with the kids


Ossian Ward in his new designer duds

Devotion to duty knows no bounds on Lisson’s stand, where the artists Cory Arcangel and Ryan Gander have ventured into the world of fashion and product design, enlisting senior Lisson staffers as models. For the duration of the fair, Greg Hilty, Alex Logsdail and Ossian Ward will be sporting Gander’s new line of painstakingly pre-muddied trainers, specially manufactured in Japan in association with Adidas. Ward also looked fetching bedecked in rainbow-hued Arcangel Surfware—clothing and accessories made by the artist in association with rock‘n’roll clothiers Bravado, and specially designed to be worn while surfing not the waves, but the internet. To continue the virtual and immersive mood, Arcangel has carpeted the booth in rainbow-coloured, computer-generated material.

From In The Frame
Published online: 15 October 2014

Tipping the hat to James Lee Byars


A restaging of Byars's Ten in a Hat

Despite bearing more than a passing resemblance to a set of characters from Dr Seuss, the parade of ten conjoined perambulators to be seen wandering the aisles of Frieze London are actually contextualising the performative emphasis of this year’s fair with an important historical precedent by re-enacting Ten in a Hat, a classic performance piece by James Lee Byars from 1969. According to Gordon VeneKlasen of Michael Werner Gallery, their collective headgear is no ordinary prop, but a loving remake by the same New York tailor responsible for Byars’s silk original. If you have £300,000 to spare, you can be the proud owner of both the original and the replica, and enjoy the right to stage the piece wherever, and with whomsoever, you choose. In the meantime, the Frieze cast will be cruising the aisles for two hours on every day of the fair.

From In The Frame
Published online: 15 October 2014

That’s one proud possum


The wonderful Dame Edna Everage

The former editor of Apollo magazine, Oscar Humphries, was seen at Frieze Masters yesterday, proudly brandishing his new glossy quarterly The Art Book, which aims “to show beautiful art in a format nearly as beautiful as the art itself”. High-profile contributors include the writer Peter Conrad and Dulwich Picture Gallery curator Xavier Bray, but one name stands out: Barry Humphries, who has written a sparkling feature on the photographer Bill Henson. Barry, AKA Dame Edna Everage, needed no introduction to the editor—who just happens to be his inky-fingered offspring.

From In The Frame
Published online: 15 October 2014

Health and safety gone mad?


Keeping an eye on the kids

You don’t often see child minders on guard at an art fair. But two strapping women are surveying infants and casting their beady eye over proceedings at Gagosian Gallery, which is showing a number of child-friendly works by the Belgian artist Carsten Höller. The kiddy wardens, who come from a company called Safe and Sound Mobile Crèches, are ensuring that no children are harmed during Frieze London—and, thankfully, not one infant has as yet come unstuck on Carsten’s spongy squid or wobbly mushroom.

From In The Frame
Published online: 15 October 2014

There’s hope yet


Javid is a fan of Banksy

Sajid Javid, the UK secretary of state for culture, media and sport, was cruelly dismissed as an arts lightweight when he was appointed in April. So it is heartening to see Javid’s selection of his top ten paintings in London, listed on Time Out’s website, which includes gems by John Everett Millais, George Stubbs and even Banksy. He plumped for the famous street artist’s Yellow Lines Flower Painter, daubed on a wall in Bethnal Green—a sign that he is down with the kids. But the most telling choice perhaps reveals the politician’s thoughts about next year’s general election: Hope by George Frederic Watts and his assistants, which is housed at Tate Britain.

From In The Frame
Published online: 15 October 2014

Tell me why you don’t like Sundays

There’s considerable confusion around the fact that for this year’s Frieze week, Saturday seems to be the new Sunday. Frieze London has axed its Sunday opening—due, apparently, to complaints from disgruntled exhibitors that the day brought seething hordes of students and families, but few sales. However, the more leisurely and laid-back Frieze Masters is still happy to be open for business on the Sabbath. Just to add to the confusion, the popular satellite fair Sunday now fails to live up to its name, opting to open on Wednesday and close on Saturday. Quite why Sunday seems to have become such an ill-favoured day for the buying and selling of contemporary art remains unclear—but it seems Sunday is the new Monday.

From In The Frame
Published online: 15 October 2014

Celebrating Ms Lovelace


Shawcross's dancing robot, Ada

Some of you may not be aware that, as well as being the opening day of the two Frieze art fairs, today is also Ada Lovelace Day. Named after Lord Byron’s mathematician daughter and the protégé of the inventor Charles Babbage, who is widely considered to have been the first computer programmer, this international day is designated to celebrate the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. The Ada Project also happens to be the name of a new art and science collaboration conceived by Conrad Shawcross in conjunction with the Vinyl Factory. For the project, Shawcross built a robot, called—you guessed it—Ada, which he programmed to dance to the music of four renowned female musicians. The robotic Ada is currently in situ on the third floor of Soho’s Brewer Street car park, where visitors can pay their respects to Ada’s past and present by activating the music—and the robot’s moves—via a four-button robotic jukebox. Ms Lovelace would no doubt have approved.

From In The Frame
Published online: 14 October 2014

Right royal blood pact


Francesca von Habsburg

Francesca von Habsburg and her TBA21 Academy curator Nadim Samman are prepared to go to drastic lengths to maintain the secrecy of “Treasure of Lima: a Buried Exhibition”, her foundation’s latest art and conservation project. Speaking at Phillips’s new Berkeley Square HQ, where she was presiding over the unveiling of the casket containing the digitally encrypted location of a stash of specially commissioned works, which the TBA21 team deposited in a top-secret location 350 miles off the coast of Costa Rica, on Isla del Coco, the Archduchess revealed that everyone involved in this “epic” adventure had made a blood pact never to reveal the nature of the works nor the burial site. “It is very serious and very binding,” she declared, while Samman revealed that “we invoked every sea deity from every religion we could think of, then everyone pricked their thumbs and signed the document in blood—it was hard work to squeeze out enough to sign all our copies”. Whether the blood of Archduchess Francesca Von Habsburg-Lothringen flowed red or blue also remains strictly under wraps.

From In The Frame
Published online: 14 October 2014

In the pink


Artist Angela Bulloch in front of Pixel Box

Visitors to PAD in Berkeley Square are being treated to a sculptural stand-off between Dale Chihuly’s garish glass squiggles and Angela Bulloch’s infinitely more subtle illuminated Pixel Box, which, for the next three weeks, will be gently pulsating from inside the HR Owen Rolls-Royce showroom across the square. The specially commissioned piece takes its dimensions from a Rolls-Royce Phantom, its surfaces from the veneers within the car’s plush interiors and its palette from the 44,000 colours available to adorn the legendary Rolls-Royce bodywork. But the artist has mischievously added a secret colour of her own invention, which intermittently flashes up among the official hues. Its name is “Packet Pink”, and Rolls-Royce assures us that if any customers select this shade for their new motor, the company will be happy to accommodate them.

From In The Frame
Published online: 14 October 2014

A fowl mood


One of Koen Vanmechelen's chickens. © Koen Vanmechelen

If you’ve ever lain awake at 3am wondering about the genetic code of chickens, then a show focusing on the immune systems of roosters, due to open next month at St Pancras Parish Church in London (15 November-14 December), will be a real treat. The Belgian artist Koen Vanmechelen has, the organisers say, “cross-bred 18 generations of chickens from as many nations, proving emphatically that greater genetic diversity results in increased fertility and stronger immune systems”. These fowl findings will be presented in the 200-year-old crypt of the church—alongside a miniature lake—in the form of a family tree (pictures of the pouting poultry will be on show alongside taxidermied specimens). The project is called Darwin’s Dream, which reflects Vanmechelen’s passion for the visionary naturalist.

From In The Frame
Published online: 14 October 2014

Mark Wallinger on Freud’s couch


Artist-turned-curator Mark Wallinger in his mini-homage to Freud's study at Hauser & Wirth's stand

Everyone agrees that the art-fair experience is a psychologically demanding one, and this view finds full expression on Hauser & Wirth’s booth, which the artist-turned-curator Mark Wallinger has transformed into a mini-homage to the study of Sigmund Freud, whose former Hampstead residence is less than a mile away from the fair. Riffing on notions of the conscious and subconscious, Wallinger describes his take on Freud’s consulting room as a “playful mise en scène”, one half of which is lined with “rational” red damask while the other is covered in a more free-associative viridian green. There is, of course, a couch—in this case, Rashid Johnson’s zebra-skin daybed—along with a sleeping guard, courtesy of Christoph Büchel, and a problematic patient represented by Louise Bourgeois’s Arch of Hysteria. At the heart of this psychodrama lies a new version of Wallinger’s self-portrait series, which takes the form of a giant sculptural letter “I”, the same height as the artist and mounted on a plinth for good measure. Long live the artistic super-ego.

From In The Frame
Published online: 14 October 2014

Kate Moss (not Bush) at Frieze


Chuck Close's 2013 watercolour pigment print of Kate Moss

An art fair would not be an art fair without a work of art depicting Kate Moss (now as obligatory as a visit by Leonardo DiCaprio). Frieze London is no exception, and fairgoers will no doubt be happy to see a 2013 watercolour pigment print of the UK supermodel by the US artist Chuck Close at Pace gallery. Moss sat for Close in 2003, when he produced a daguerreotype of the British beauty’s face, and he also took some saucy nude shots of the model. Close told the Daily Telegraph that Moss loved the earlier shots, but had a “minor regret”. She told the artist: “I wish I’d trimmed my pubic hair a little bit.” We can report that topiary is not an issue with the more recent work on show at Frieze London.

From In The Frame
Published online: 14 October 2014

Lucas likes his pin-up girls


George Petty's Rigid Tool and Gil Elvgren. Everything Seems Awfully High Around Here!

Ever since “Star Wars” creator George Lucas announced plans to create a Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago, many were left wondering: what does the term “narrative art” actually mean? As it turns out, the category encompasses everything from Peanuts comics to pin-up girls. According to the museum’s expanded website, which the Chicago Tribune first noticed had been quietly launched this week, any art that tells a story visually—from ancient Greek vases to genre painting—is fair game. Lucas’s museum is expected to feature illustrations by Beatrix Potter, paintings by Norman Rockwell and drawings of curvaceous women by George Petty. The category has gotten a bad rap in recent years, according to an essay on the website: “Although Abstract Expressionism has been favored by critics and art connoisseurs, Narrative Art’s popularity with the general public never wavered, pointing to its ability to cross cultural and social boundaries in its plainspoken, genuine style.” Art world denizens, prepare to leave your pretensions at the door.

From In The Frame
Published online: 09 October 2014

Marina’s ready for her close-up, Mr von Trier


Marina's public plea to Lars von Trier

Odd couple or match made in heaven? The performance artist Marina Abramovic has sent out a personal plea to the Danish director Lars von Trier to collaborate on her forthcoming film “Seven Deaths”. “Dear Mr Lars von Trier, I think you are the most disturbing director in this planet and this is why I’d really, really love to work with you,” she says in a message to the filmmaker that was recently broadcast on Sweden’s public service channel SVT. “Seven Deaths” will tell the story of seven opera heroines that die tragically, and the artist wants to engage a different director for each story. Abramovic says she did not sleep for days after seeing von Trier’s “Breaking the Waves”, a film with a female protagonist who suffers a brutal death, and although she wanted to “kill him with my own hands”, that reaction is what made her interested in his work. “You really bring the actors on the edge of complete nervous breakdowns. Because I am a performance artist, I understand very well what you are doing,” Abramovic tells the provocative director, whose most recent film “Nymphomaniac” made headlines because of its explicit sex scenes. She ends with a fittingly ambiguous appeal to von Trier, delivered in her signature sultry Slavic tone: “Just say yes, you know, because in my life, when somebody says no, it’s just the beginning.”

From In The Frame
Published online: 08 October 2014

Dracula behind bars


Restoration work at Tokat Castle uncovered two dungeons

We don’t tend to feel sympathy for Vlad the Impaler. He is known, after all, as an impaler. But before he became synonymous with barbarous acts of cruelty, Vlad was a 12-year-old boy held as a political prisoner in Turkey with his brother Radu. Now, researchers say they have found Vlad’s old prison chambers in a medieval castle in the Turkish town of Tokat, though they are not sure exactly which room he stayed in. The Turkish archaeologist İbrahim Çetin didn’t elaborate much further when he spoke with Hurriyet Daily News, but can’t you just imagine little Vlad, looking out of a cell window, plotting his violent revenge? Maybe we should not feel so bad after all.

From In The Frame
Published online: 08 October 2014

Hirst's straw hat heads to Dulwich


A straw hat made by Charles Edenshaw (around 1839-1920).

Devotees of the Canadian artist Emily Carr (1871-1945) are in for a treat as Dulwich Picture Gallery in south London will open next month the first major solo exhibition in Europe dedicated to the Canadian artist and author (1 November-8 March 2015). Her depictions of the indigenous cultures and natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest Coast have made her a household name in her native country but her work, until recently, has remained largely unknown to foreign audiences. Around 40 First Nation artefacts will be shown alongside Carr's paintings; these indigenous objects will come from prestigious institutions such as the British Museum but another, more unlikely, source is lending works. Damien Hirst will loan two pieces from Murderme, his personal art collection: a frontlet featuring a raven made by the Tlingit people, and a straw hat made by the well-known Haida artist Charles Edenshaw (around 1839-1920). Ian Dejardin, the Dulwich's director who is co-curating the show with Canadian art critic and writer Sarah Milroy, went to visit the collection with Jim Hart, a Haida master carver, who immediately identified the work as a “Charlie hat”.

From In The Frame
Published online: 07 October 2014

How the Pre-Raphaelites suffered


John Everett Millais's portait of John Ruskin now hangs in the Ashmolean, Oxford

In the film “Effie Gray”, which received its premiere in London on Sunday, 5 October, John Everett Millais (played by Tom Sturridge) struggles manfully in the pouring rain to complete a full-length portrait of John Ruskin (Greg Wise). The art critic famously posed besides a waterfall in the Scottish glens in 1853. The painting now hangs in Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum. Meanwhile, Ruskin’s ravishing but neglected wife Euphemia (Dakota Fanning) is shown in the biopic pining away in the remote cottage the three shared on their unhappy holiday. Millais wasn’t the only Pre-Raphaelite who struggled to paint en plein air. Edward Burne-Jones hated the experience, the October issue of the Burlington Magazine reveals. His wife Georgiana described Burne-Jones’s one and only attempt. “He said first of all the flies came and settled on his drawing, and then rain came and glued them on, so not much resulted,” she wrote. What they both needed is illustrated in the Burlington's article: a state of the art Winsor and Newton tent, mid-1850s model. "This simple and serviceable contrivance for the use of the sketcher from nature is perfectly firm when in use, and of dimensions sufficient for the purposes of sketching," the company boasted.

From In The Frame
Published online: 05 October 2014

Murakami meditates on disaster


Murakami in front of his newest work. Photo: Shin Suzuki, artwork © Takashi Murakami/Kaikai Kiki Co, Ltd, all Rights Reserved, courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Having portrayed himself as a cartoonish Buddha and created a series of monumental portraits of the founder of Zen Buddhism, Takashi Murakami continues his transcendental meditations next month at Gagosian Gallery. On 10 November, the gallery opens a show at its 24th Street location of the Japanese artist’s latest work, which deals with the role of faith after a natural disaster, such as the earthquake that struck the Tohoku region of Japan in 2011. “In the Land of the Dead: Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow” (until 17 January) includes an “immersive installation, entered through a 56-ton replica of a sanmon (sacred gate)… deliquescing clones of his fictional creature Mr Dob; and karajishi, the mythic lions that guard Japanese Buddhist temples,” according to the gallery. “To me, religions are a story,” Murakami says in a statement. “Natural catastrophes, earthquakes, are things caused by nature. Evil is natural, but we have to fight it somehow, and so we had to invent these deities, and I wanted to paint them.”

From In The Frame
Published online: 03 October 2014

Dig deep for Courbet


Gustave Courbet, L'Atelier du Peintre, 1855

The Musée d'Orsay in Paris has launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise funds for the conservation of Gustave Courbet's enormous 22 sq. m painting The Artist's Studio, 1855. The complex restoration will cost €600,000 but the museum hopes that the public will contribute at least €30,000 (more than €6,800 had rolled in on 2 October). Donors receive prestigious tokens of appreciation (€5 gets you a mention on the museum website; a VIP dinner at the museum is yours for €2,500). Conservators will work on the painting in full view of the public. Courbet explained the composition, saying: "It's the whole world coming to me to be painted. On the right, all the shareholders, by that I mean friends, fellow workers, art lovers. On the left is the other world of everyday life, the masses, wretchedness, poverty, wealth, the exploited and the exploiters, people who make a living from death." The artist himself takes pride of place in the centre.

From In The Frame
Published online: 02 October 2014

Imelda's happy feet


Imelda Marcos

At 85, Imelda Marcos, the former First Lady and serving congresswoman of the Philippines, remains the object of cult fascination. As authorities in Manila seized masterpieces by Gauguin, Goya, Picasso and others that the Marcos family allegedly acquired with embezzled State funds during the late Ferdinand’s dictatorship, London was preparing for the opening of an unlikely stage show dedicated to his shoe-collecting wife. Billed as a “revolutionary musical experience”, Here Lies Love at the National Theatre (until 8 January) sets Imelda’s life and times to a disco beat. The brainchild of the ex-Talking Heads frontman David Byrne in collaboration with DJ Fatboy Slim, the project reportedly reached the ears of the muse herself, who told reporters she was “flattered” by the high-octane tribute.

From In The Frame
Published online: 01 October 2014

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