In The Frame

Finnish police give new meaning to granny panties

Ceci n'est pas mon corps, clothed. © Baltic Circle

An 83-year-old flasher—that’s what Finnish police saw in Dries Verhoeven’s performance piece Ceci n’est pas mon corps (This is not my body), which came to Helsinki earlier this month. For the work, part of the Baltic Circle International Theatre Festival from 9 to 16 November, a different scene was played out each day in a transparent cube installed in the city centre. One scene, about the aging body, features an older woman sitting naked on a chair wearing a mask of a younger woman’s face. Since public obscenity is outlawed in Finland, the performance was only allowed to continue after the woman put on underwear. Police were alerted to the work following calls from the public about another scene, in which a half-naked girl sat on an older man’s lap—although this was allowed to go ahead unchanged. The full piece was previously shown in eight European cities without incident, including Hamburg, Strasbourg and Basel, leading the festival’s director, Eva Neklyaeva, to say she was “ashamed” about the censorship, and a legal complaint has been filed against the city.

From In The Frame
Published online: 26 November 2014

This month:


Arken ahoy!

Arken Museum of Modern Art

No museum is an island—except for the Arken Museum of Modern Art in Ishøj, Denmark. Next autumn, the institution will be based on an island designed by the architects Møller & Grønborg; three bridges will lead visitors over a lagoon from the mainland to the existing museum site. “The initial concept called for locating the museum on the beach in [nearby] Køge Bay, but this had to be abandoned, partly because of the planning conditions for the area around Ishøj Harbour,” says a spokeswoman for the museum, who adds that visitors will have better access to the beach. “Instead of the current parking lot, a wide sweep of dunes will seamlessly link the museum to the sea.”

From In The Frame
Published online: 25 November 2014

Distilled delight

Miniature portrait of a naval captain by John Smart, 1786

For enthusiasts of Britain’s Georgian period—and a good cup of tea—the London dealer Philip Mould has a treat in store. He is selling a collection of 45 works by the 18th-century miniaturist John Smart (1741-1811). Smart was working at the same time as Thomas Gainsborough and Joshua Reynolds and displays the same skills in bringing the contemporaneous merchant class to life—on a much smaller scale. Mould and his team have worked hard to dig out more details on both Smart and his sitters to pull together the exhibition, “A Genius Magnified” (until 9 December). Their research has unearthed that Smart, who is recorded as being from Norfolk, was in fact from the Soho area of London. Among his sitters are Richard Twining, who entered his family’s tea business at only 16. Prices for the pieces from the collection, which was amassed in Germany over the past 30 years, begin at £4,000 (for Smart’s preparatory drawings) to £55,000.

From In The Frame
Published online: 25 November 2014

9/11 sculpture still destined for Olympic Park

After 9/11, by Miya Ando, in Battersea Park. Photo: Jim Linwood/Flickr

Questions have been asked about a piece of public sculpture commemorating the victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York that was due to be installed permanently in London’s Olympic Park in Stratford. Last year, we reported that After 9/11 by the US-based artist Miya Ando, which incorporates a twisted steel column from the World Trade Center, was destined for the East End of the capital but the project seemed to have stalled. A spokesman for Ando’s dealer, Sundaram Tagore gallery in New York, tells us, however, that “the actual installation and the ceremony will be taking place spring of 2015”.

From In The Frame
Published online: 24 November 2014

The Queen’s Speech

Queen Letizia presents the Velazquez Visual Art Prize to Jaume Plensa. Photo: AOP

Spain’s Queen Letizia is getting major kudos from the Spanish press after she gave a speech presenting the Velazquez Visual Art Prize, worth €100,000, to the Catalan sculptor Jaume Plensa. “Queen Letizia has embraced the new fondness for the invention of language,” begins a report in El Mundo. The former journalist turned royal said of Plensa: “I admire an artist that uses ideas as raw material, that achieves powerful works with approachable content, that captures the essence of humanity by bringing thought and—allow me the neologism—physicality [fisicalidad] together.” It’s not always easy to translate a neologism but those familiar with English artspeak get the point.

From In The Frame
Published online: 21 November 2014

Whitney says so long—for now

The Whitney's message to the Breuer building

The Whitney Museum for American Art said goodbye—or maybe just see you later—to its Marcel Breuer-designed building on Wednesday with a blowout gala that raised $4.3m. Although the space was emptied of all art ahead of its move to its new Meatpacking District facility, due to open on 1 May, the Whitney made sure to leave its mark on its long-time home. Event organisers screenprinted the signature of every artist in the museum’s collection—more than 3,000 names—on the walls and hung paper lanterns from the ceiling inscribed with the names of each artist who had had a solo show at the Breuer. “I found this space wonderful to work in, but I’m not saying goodbye to anything, since the building will still be used for contemporary art,” said the artist Lawrence Weiner, referring to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s move into the building. The party’s décor also suggested that the Whitney might not be saying a permanent goodbye. Lengthy power chords on the walls spelled out phrases including, “goodbye for now”, “stay tuned” and “see you later”. A spokeswoman confirms the museum hopes to operate both the downtown and uptown spaces after the Met’s eight-year lease of the Breuer ends, but says, “the decision will be made in future years”. If the Whitney’s goodbye party was this intricate, just imagine the housewarming.

From In The Frame
Published online: 20 November 2014

Slumber party to kick off Creative Time Fall Ball

Get your pillows ready

Dedicated patrons of the arts will need to put on their dancing shoes and their good pyjamas for this weekend’s Fall Ball, a fundraiser for Creative Time at the NeueHouse in New York. The fun begins on Friday evening for the more zealous revellers with a dinner and “participatory slumber party”. Everything but a good night’s sleep seems to be on the menu, from nail art by Will Cotton and Rob Pruitt to early-morning yoga to whatever a “porn puzzle corner” might be. Those who prefer the comfort of their own beds—or aren’t up for “full body exams” with David Colman—can join the fun on Saturday night, with an artsy dance party from nine to midnight.

From In The Frame
Published online: 19 November 2014

These are their stories

Kawase Hasui, Autumn in Koshiji, 1920

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond is hosting a show of prints by the Japanese artist Kawase Hasui and the backer of the exhibition is an unlikely source: René Balcer, a longtime writer and showrunner of the television programme “Law & Order”, and his wife Carolyn. “Water and Shadow: Kawase Hasui and Japanese Landscape Prints” (until 29 March 2015) includes more than 100 of the artist’s prints, screens and fan paintings, and is drawn largely from the collection of the Balcers, who donated their holdings to the VMFA in 2006. René Balcer has a history with the museum. In 2011, he collaborated with the Chinese artist Xu Bing on the Tobacco Project, in which the artist explored issues related to tobacco production, which included a sculpture made of 500,000 cigarettes laid out to resemble a tiger skin rug.

From In The Frame
Published online: 19 November 2014

When Dr Kinsey met Kenneth Anger

Still from "Fireworks". Copyright Kenneth Anger and Sprüeth Magers

The Wellcome Collection opens “The Institute of Sexology” on Thursday, 20 November, the inaugural long-format exhibition in Gallery 2 of London's medical-history-meets-art venue (until September 2015). Displays about the pioneers of sex research include Sigmund Freud, Marie Stopes, William Masters and Virginia Johnson and, of course, Alfred Kinsey. The good doctor’s famous institute in Indiana is among the many lenders. Besides the complex sex-questionnaires that Kinsey devised, there’s a burgeoning collection of erotica donated by experimental filmmaker and author of Hollywood Babylon, Kenneth Anger, in the Kinsey Institute. Anger and Kinsey's friendship began in the 1950s. They met in the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles, the city’s hottest spot for avant-garde cinema. (Ed Keinholz made a work for the foyer). “Doctor Kinsey interviewed me when a teenager for his book, so I’m actually part of the statistics,” Anger tells Extra Extra, the self-styled publication for erotic encounters. After a screening of Anger’s 1947 experimental film “Fireworks”, Kinsey said he’d like to purchase a print for his institute. "That was my first sale,” Anger says, who is now represented by Sprüeth Magers of Berlin and London.

From In The Frame
Published online: 18 November 2014

Beyond the selfie

A selfie snapshot from the Inside Za'atari Tumblr

The Magnum photographer Michael Christopher Brown, known for taking most of his on-the-ground images using his iPhone, spent a week last August in the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan teaching Syrian refugee teenagers how to take and manipulate photos with mobile phones for a programme organised with the charity Save the Children. “I asked the group to show me their daily reality,” Brown said. A young participant called Samar expressed her enthusiasm for the project, saying her dream since childhood has been to travel the world as a photojournalist. An online gallery on Tumblr will chronicle the work of Samar and her peers over the next year. The director for Save the Children in Jordan, Saba Mobsalat, explains that the pictures “remind us that behind all of the numbers, each Syrian child is an individual with a life and a voice… just like any teenager in any country”.

From In The Frame
Published online: 17 November 2014

That’s all she wrote

Johannes Vermeer, A Lady Writing a Letter, c 1665. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Virginia Woolf said that for a woman to be a successful writer she required two deceptively simple things: money and a room of one’s own. While this might be easier to achieve nowadays, it’s still impressive to see how much women writers were able to produce in a pre-feminist age, when social and economic constraints often kept the pen out of their hands. Some of this output can be seen at the Paris auction house Ader, where a unique collection of 1,500 letters and documents, written by women over more than 600 years from the 14th century to the present, is due to be sold on 18 and 19 November. The top lot, estimated at €35,000-€40,000, is a letter dated 1529 from Catherine of Aragon to a representative of the pope, contesting Henry VIII ’s demand to annul their marriage. Other royal documents include a rare letter from Mary, Queen of Scots, mourning the 1563 assassination of her uncle, the French Duc de Guise, and two secret letters from Catherine the Great of Russia to a former lover. The collection includes the complete manuscript of a novella by George Sand, the nom de plume of the French writer Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin. Other writers represented include Virginia Woolf herself, Anaïs Nin and Agatha Christie, but there are also letters from singers and actresses such as Edith Piaf and Brigitte Bardot and artists like Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassat and Sonia Delaunay.

From In The Frame
Published online: 16 November 2014

Dancing in the rain

This ain't no disco

The M25 is one of the modern miseries of London, as any commuter who has to use the motorway that circles the capital can tell you. Friday was especially hellish as heavy rain caused part of the carriageway to collapse in Surrey, resulting in a 16-mile tailback. Spare a thought for the dancers due to perform Megan Saunders’ large-scale performance piece I've Been Going Round in Circles Since 1986, which is part of the Hayward Gallery’s “Mirrorcity” show (until 4 January 2015). On Saturday, 15 November, a group of 15 dancers is due to navigate sections of the motorway on foot, collectively circling the orbital motorway. (Thundery showers are forecast.) On Sunday at London’s Royal Festival Hall on London's Southbank they are due to recreate the choreographic piece and regale their audience with tales of the M25.

From In The Frame
Published online: 14 November 2014

Lacma now casting for the Pierre Huyghe show

Not The Blues Brothers

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma) is holding auditions for a role in the Pierre Huyghe retrospective, which opens on 23 November. Lacma seeks an “Announcer” who will take part in a forthcoming exhibition, which a museum spokeswoman confirms is, indeed, the Pierre Huyghe show. It's a male role that requires standing for extended periods of time and the ability to speak clearly and project your voice, states the job ad on the museum website. “Excellent command of the English language is essential.” Suitable attire is also specified, which the successful applicant has to provide. “The performer must wear his own black suit with white collared shirt and black shoes (no sneakers),” it says. Should any aspiring, out-of-work actor think they’ll have to channel their inner Blues Brother for Pierre, think again. “The exhibition of contemporary artwork references the royal courts and male court heralds,” the ad states. Sounds as if Huyghe has something Alice in Wonderlandish in mind for his off-Hollywood debut. Anyone interested in the role (part-time, temporary, $14/hour, up to 29 hours a week) needs to send their résumé right away. “Pierre Huyghe” (until 22 February 2015) is organised by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, in association with Lacma and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne.

From In The Frame
Published online: 13 November 2014

Amazzzing art

Any ill-timed bouts of insomnia could kibosh a show that is due to open later this month at Gallery Different in Bloomsbury, London. The fetchingly titled “Ibis Sleep Art” show has been organised by the eponymous economy hotel chain. Twelve artists, including London-based Carne Griffiths, will spend the night slumbering in a bed designed by Ibis engineers. On waking up, the suitably refreshed aesthetes will create a new work based on their shuteye (new works inspired by the land of nod will be added throughout the show). Let's hope it doesn't send us off to sleep too.

From In The Frame
Published online: 13 November 2014

Get your specs on

Sam Messer collaborates with novelists Jonathan Safran Foer and Denis Johnson

For all those lovers of literature out there, the artist and Yale professor Sam Messer will debut several new collaborations with novelists Jonathan Safran Foer (Everything Is Illuminated) and Denis Johnson (Jesus’ Son) next year. Beginning at Fredericks & Freiser in early January, Messer will show an animation based on a children’s book that Johnson wrote for Messer’s daughter (who is also Johnson’s goddaughter) as well as a collection of text and image “scraps” that the pair have been collecting since 1981. For his part, Safran Foer will create texts and collages to paste atop Messer’s drawings of the writer. Later in the spring, Garth Greenan Gallery in New York will exhibit a return to one of Messer’s favourite subjects: the Brooklyn novelist Paul Auster, with a show of both old and new paintings of the writer and his typewriters.

From In The Frame
Published online: 08 November 2014

Goebbels’ home transformed by Gregor Schneider

Gregor Schneider in Goebbels' childhood home

The German artist Gregor Schneider makes waves (again) with the news that he has taken over the childhood home of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda. Schneider tells us that he bought the former Goebbels residence in 2013, which is located in Rheydt in north-west Germany. The property is 100 metres from “Haus U R”, the artist’s family home-cum-art project which he has relentlessly reconfigured since 1985. "Nobody told me about the history of [the Goebbels] house, I found out by accident. People in the city have known but not talked about it. I want to work against history and displacement… the silent victims must be heard again,” he says. Schneider took photos of himself eating and sleeping in the space, but has since gutted the property, removing the walls and ceilings beginning with Goebbels’ old bedroom; the house is now an empty shell, but the artist may transport the rubble to Berlin and park the truck filled with the demolition debris outside the Volksbühne theatre. Schneider is no stranger to controversy. In 2008, we reported his plans to show a person dying as part of an exhibition.

From In The Frame
Published online: 07 November 2014

Happy 50th Aldrich!

Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 1980-2012. Courtesy the artist and Metro Pictures, New York

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a little help from some very creative friends. To mark the occasion, the Connecticut museum is due to hold a benefit auction featuring works by artists including Cindy Sherman, Bruce Nauman, Elizabeth Peyton, Olafur Eliasson and Martin Creed. Also on the block are a handful of one-of-a-kind experiences, including a ceramics lesson and tea ceremony with the artist Tom Sachs. Those who like their art with a side of drama can bid on a tour of the “Law & Order: SVU” set at Chelsea Piers in New York with the artist Michael Zansky, who has moonlighted as a production designer for the programme. Tickets to the live auction, which is also accessible online at Paddle8, start at $175. The event is scheduled for 10 November at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York.

From In The Frame
Published online: 07 November 2014

Philly pride

Photo: Marnie Vaughan

Julian Siggers is the proud director of the Penn Museum, and understandably so. The head of the 125-year-old University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has good reason to toot the institution’s trumpet in the latest issue of Almanac the college’s journal. He makes a special point of mentioning the illustrated History of the World in 1,000 Objects, published by Dorling Kindersley last month, which is “now being translated into a myriad of languages”. The book includes 212 objects from the Penn Museum’s vast collection, he reveals. “So 20% of the world’s history” is in the Philadelphia institution, Siggers writes, “mostly on display”. Even more gratifying for the director is the fact that the Penn’s contribution is greater than the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London. Topping the BM makes Siggers “particularly happy”. Who knew that anything Blighty can do in 100 objects, the City of Brotherly Love can do better?

From In The Frame
Published online: 06 November 2014

Tear down the wall

via Pixabay

While Germans prepare to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the end of the Berlin Wall on 9 November, artist activists from the Zentrum für Politische Schönheit (Center for Political Beauty) plan to tear down the walls separating Europe. “Let us not commemorate the past, but the present—and demolish the illegal external borders of the EU. Not with warm words, but with bolt-cutters,” said Philipp Ruch, the artistic director of the group. On Friday, buses will bring volunteers from Berlin to unspecified points along the European border where they will try to cut down the razor wire fences that are meant to keep out refugees from the Middle East and North Africa, in order to “unite humanity”. The group of political artists has become known for its high-profile actions. In 2012, it highlighted the history of Kassel, the city that hosts the major art exhibition Documenta, as a centre for German weapons manufacturing during the Second World War. More recently it created a fake advertisement campaign that said the German government would seek out families housing Syrian refugee kids. A crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo to finance the €5,900 in transportation costs has already raised more than €25,000.

From In The Frame
Published online: 05 November 2014

A+ heritage! Would visit again!


Ed Vaizey has been surfing Trip Advisor. The UK culture minister admitted his online habit in his speech at a dinner at Blenheim to celebrate the Treasure Houses of England, a group of nine major stately homes. His exploration of the travel site had shown that their mansions usually win four or five stars, but he then went on to look at some of the other major heritage destinations. Vaizey found a reviewer had awarded London’s National Gallery only a single star, saying “this was really boring—why can’t they get some new stuff in?” As for Stonehenge, another commented: “Yawn... It was the biggest waste of time I’ve ever experienced.” Maybe they should have gone to Legoland instead.

From In The Frame
Published online: 05 November 2014

Puff puff pass—and paint?

A rock art panel at Dripping Springs, New Mexico. Photo: Courtesy L. Loendorf via Western Digs

It appears as if ancient artisans had some, ahem, help in creating the abstract paintings found at dozens of rock art sites in Dripping Springs, New Mexico. Archaeologists have noticed a correlation between rocks embellished with red, yellow and black triangle motifs and the plants with hallucinogenic properties that grow beneath them, reports the Western Digs blog. Scholars believe that shamans smoked the particularly strong variety of wild tobacco and datura before they set to work on their paintings. “I think almost certainly that they’re trancing on this stuff,” says Lawrence Loendorf, the president of the Sacred Sites Research archaeological firm. Around 24 drawings have been found so far in an area of southern New Mexico once occupied by the Jornada Mogollon culture.

From In The Frame
Published online: 05 November 2014

Charles Ray’s close encounter

Baled Truck, 2014

No one could ever accuse Charles Ray of being impatient. It took more than four years and a complicated fabrication process for the artist to create his latest work, which debuted at Matthew Marks Gallery in Los Angeles this weekend as part of his latest solo show “Charles Ray”, until 20 December. Baled Truck, 2014—a compressed version of Ray’s own Chevy pickup truck—was the first work Ray conceived in a series of representational stainless steel sculptures, but it was the final one to be completed, with the artist putting the final touches on the work days before the opening. He employed cutting-edge technology, using a 3D scanner to create a digital model of his crushed car out of what Ray calls “virtual clay”. A fabrication company that specialises in producing airplane parts carved each component out of blocks of solid stainless steel. Ray then had the parts welded back together like puzzle pieces and resurfaced. The final product is nine feet by four feet, but weighs 12 tons. The sculpture is inspired by Ray’s memories of his first car—and how he lost it. “I have a lifelong guilt over abandoning my first set of wheels,” Ray tells The Art Newspaper. “I thought I was being chased by UFOs, and I fled out of a swamp and it took me four hours to get away. I abandoned my truck and I never got it again.”

From In The Frame
Published online: 04 November 2014

Russian businessman hung up on Apple ceo’s sex life

We just hope the screen didn’t crack

A St Petersburg businessman has dismantled a monument to Apple founder Steve Jobs in the form of a gigantic iPhone after the computer company’s chief executive Tim Cook came out as gay last week. Maksim Dolgopolov, who paid for the monument to go up in front of St Petersburg’s University of Information Technologies in 2013, ordered it removed due to Russia’s controversial law against “gay propaganda” according to reports citing a statement by his company, ZEFS. “Now, when it’s clear that iPhones are more dangerous than cigarettes or drugs, when in addition to its technology this brand becomes a symbol for sodomistic sin, reasonable people in the world will start rejecting Apple products en masse,” Dolgopolov said. Somehow, we doubt that. A spokesman for the university, however, told a local news site that the company had in fact planned to remove the monument for repairs before Cook’s announcment. suggested that Dolgopolov, who is running for local office on the pro-Kremlin United Russia ticket, is seeking to curry political favour by pulling down the iPhone. Or perhaps he was just sick of dropped calls.

From In The Frame
Published online: 03 November 2014

Mary Archer at the helm of Science Museum Group

Mary Archer

Mary Archer is the new chair of the Science Museum Group, which runs London’s Science Museum. Mary was trained as a scientist, later lecturing in chemistry at Oxford and Cambridge; her term is due to run from 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2018. Sajid Javid, the culture secretary, notes her “fine track record of chairing high profile institutions, along with a sense of what the visiting public want and expect from museums today”. Announcements of such government appointments have to include any declared political activity in the past five years, but not that of their spouses. Hence nothing is recorded about her husband, novelist Jeffrey, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party back in the 1980s. But Jeffrey says on his blog regarding the appointment: "I'm a very proud husband."

From In The Frame
Published online: 03 November 2014

Dear Diary

Joseph Cornell’s diary entry, 17 May 1946. Joseph Cornell papers, 1804-1986. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution

For anyone with an older sister who never let you read her diary, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, is inviting visitors to take a peek at the personal writings of artists. The exhibition “A Day in the Life: Artists’ Diaries from the Archives of American Art” (until 28 February 2015) at the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture includes 35 personal journals used by painters like Rubens Peale (who wrote of seeing Abraham Lincoln’s body lying in state after his assassination) and Janice Lowry (who took to making collages following the terrorists attacks of 9/11). Diaries used by Joseph Cornell, Jack Tworkov and Oscar Bluemner fill the historical gaps in between and a video diary by the contemporary artist Joe Hollier from 2014 asks what role journals can play in our digital age.

From In The Frame
Published online: 02 November 2014

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