We wish we were in…
Gstaad, where the outdoor art extravaganza, “Elevation 1049: between Heaven and Hell”, opened this week (until 8 March). If we have to deal with any more snow and ice this winter, we’d much prefer to do it while trekking across glaciers to see works by John Armeleder, Thomas Hirschhorn, Christian Marclay, and other artists, installed in the ski resort town.
Petra’s fancy footwork
It is unlikely that many artists in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s new exhibition, “Fútbol: the Beautiful Game” (opening 2 February), had the chance to make it as a professional footballer. But Petra Cortright, doyenne of the new breed of internet artists, could well have had a very different career. “I played soccer for a very long time—14 years—really seriously,” she tells The Art Newspaper. “I played in the club in high school and I was on the pre-Olympic team and I had offers to go to school for soccer, but I ended up going to art school.” Cortright’s impressive skills can be seen in the show in footvball/faerie, 2009, her webcam video, in which she does a spot of “keepy-uppy” with a football-shaped pillow, dressed in a pink bathing suit which glows as she juggles. Her choice came down to politics, she says: “I didn’t have this bloodthirsty thing that I think you really need to be a professional athlete.”
Work saved by the Monuments Men now in Kansas City
As American theatregoers prepare for the release of "The Monuments Men" on 7 February, a film looking at the Allied soldiers of the Second World War who were sent into Europe to save works of art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City is reflecting on its own connections to the real-life stories behind the film. Six of those soldiers have direct ties to the Nelson-Atkins, including Paul Gardner, the first director of the museum, who led the fine arts section of the Allied military government in Italy. Even the institution’s collection has links to the art recovery programme. An 18th-century picture by Nicolas de Largillière, Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, was found by the Monuments Men in a “bomb-rigged salt mine” in Austria, according to a museum press release. The museum purchased the picture from an art dealer in 1954.
It’s been a big week for the Hayward's director
As the lights were going on and off at last night’s opening of Martin Creed’s biggest ever show at London's Hayward Gallery, its director, Ralph Rugoff, was basking in the glow of his recent appointment as the curator of the 2015 Biennale de Lyon. “I’m super happy”, he said, “and I’m looking forward to working with the people at the Mac [Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon]”. Asked if Creed will feature in the prestigious biennial, he said he has “no idea”, but graciously added: “Creed deserves to be seen everywhere in the world.” The exhibition of more than 160 works by the Turner-prize winning artist will open to the public today, and includes his massive rotating Mothers neon, and Half the Air in a Given Space, a room filled with 7,000 balloons (sure to bring out the child in the most hardened gallery visitor).
And never the twain shall meet
The art world and the world of professional American football rarely overlap, nor will they when the Pepsi Corporation takes over New York’s Bryant Park on 29 January to 1 February, ostensibly in celebration of Super Bowl XLVIII. PepCity, as it is being called, will offer New Yorkers and tourists a mix of admittedly confusing performances and installations that remind them why football is, by comparison, so straightforward. The experience is due to include a site-specific installation by the architecture firm Snarkitecture, depicting a fictionalised New York skyscape; simultaneous performances by the playwright Lemon Andersen and three artists (Jolt, Valerie Carpender and Marcela Gutierrez) who will surround him and make art in real time; and a model of a New York apartment that includes, bizarrely, a “soundscape” by Chris Holmes and Kelly Brown. Alas, the love affair between art and football remains unconsummated.
Putting women back in Wikipedia
Frustrated by the paltry Wikipedia entries for women artists ranging from Alice Neel to Zoe Strauss? You’re in luck. On 1 February, 17 international institutions are scheduled to host an Art+Feminism Wikipedia edit-a-thon to improve the online encyclopaedia’s entries for female artists. The event, spearheaded by the Eyebeam Art and Technology Centre in New York, is open to the public and will offer tutorials for novice editors as well as free childcare. Parallel edit-a-thons are due to be held at De Appel in Amsterdam, the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, among others. The endeavour is part of a broader effort to close the gender gap among Wikipedia’s authors. According to a 2010 survey, less than 13% of contributors are female. The artists whose entries are poised for an update include Georgia O’Keeffe, Joan Mitchell, Mary Cassatt and Catherine Opie.
In Davos, artist offers advice to Iranian president
Shirin Neshat was honoured at the World Economic Forum held in Davos this week with a Crystal Award, which is given annually to artists who have used their art to improve the state of the world. In her acceptance speech, the Iranian-born, New York-based visual artist took the opportunity to give some words of advice to the country’s new president Hassan Rouhani, a Muslim cleric, lawyer and academic, and “a man whom I respect a great deal”, Neshat said. The artist, who was raised in a liberally minded family and left Iran to go to art school in Los Angeles a few years before the Islamic Revolution, returned in 1990 to find a country drastically changed into one where “the government deprived us of the basic human right of freedom of expression, when artists and intellectuals regularly became harassed, arrested and at times executed”. So she ended her speech with a personal plea to President Rouhani: “Take care of your artists, your intellectuals. And accept that art is no crime, that it is every artist’s responsibility to make art that is meaningful, that questions tyranny, that question injustice.”
It pays to be a collector
A brand new way of selling art was introduced in Paris last month by the suitably titled “Espace Improbable”. Launched with much fanfare over the New Year holiday the gallery’s novel scheme guaranteed to write you a cheque for €100 should you buy any painting by the artist Bertrand Bellon. Thus, improbably enough, for the first time a gallery actually paid the collector to acquire the work rather than the other way round. Bellon’s paintings, which were on sale from €500 to €3,000, flew off the walls as a result, the offer including not only a generous cheque but also a free signed copy of his recent hefty monograph. The perfect strategy for a recession market, it may well catch on everywhere. As the director of the gallery, the impeccably named Denis D’Argent puts it: “Offering a discount on works of art is so banal it is an insult, we are not here to sell yoghurts, art should never be reduced or discounted. Instead, this way, during the holiday season we are offering a present, a gift to collectors, so you leave with a book, an original painting and a bank cheque in your hand.”
So much for freedom of the press
In perhaps the most deeply ironic move for a country known for its strict censorship law, the Iranian government has shuttered its own National Museum of the Press only five months after its inauguration ceremony. The museum celebrated the 176-year history of Iran’s news media, with a 100-year-old printing press, old cameras and rare copies of periodicals among the items on display. Yet despite costing over $370,000, plus an additional $3,300 in monthly rental fees for the premises, the museum never opened to the public. According to the Tehran Times, the majority of items on display were copies, while others were borrowed from the newspaper Ettelaat for the inauguration ceremony in July and returned immediately afterwards. The “closure” follows the appointment of a new culture minister and deputy, whose office blames “a lack of security, improper location, and a lack of important items” for the move. The authorities now hope to re-open the museum elsewhere—because clearly it was the museum's location in downtown Tehran that led to its failure.
My father, the painter
A figurative painter among Abstract Expressionists, Robert De Niro Sr (1922-93) was largely unknown in the world beyond his peers and collectors. That might soon change, as “Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro Sr”, a 40-minute documentary directed by Perri Peltz and Geeta Gandbhir, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah this week. The dominant narrative voice in the film is that of the painter’s son, the actor Robert De Niro. The star told audiences that he made the film for his children, and said that he had never wanted to become a painter like his father, though he owns much of his work. “I wish I had done some posing for him, but I just didn’t have the patience,” De Niro said. An exhibition of De Niro Sr’s works is on view at the Julie Nester Gallery in Park City during Sundance, until 26 January, and this spring, DC Moore Gallery in New York will show his paintings. The documentary is due to air in June on HBO.
Save Rizzoli Books
New York’s Rizzoli bookstore, a midtown Manhattan cultural haven, may soon have to pack up shop and move to a new location thanks to a development plan which would tear down the building it calls home. The LeFrak real estate family and Vornado Realty Trust want to demolish the 109-year-old building to make way for more lucrative properties, but supporters of the bookstore are firing back. “Loss of Rizzoli bookshop shameful, sad,” commented the New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman on Twitter. “Must everything worth saving be landmarked?” Perhaps—and that’s just the plan with a online petition to save the building and bookstore . Thomas Collins, the shop’s fine arts book buyer, recognizes that “we are up against seemingly insurmountable odds.” But he has hope: “With your help, I believe we can prevail.”
Old Masters turned into moving images
A soothing bit of CGI came across our screens today—an under-ten-minute video by the Italian animator Rino Stefano Tagliafierro that brings to life some usually static Academic and Old Master canvases. Entitled “Beauty”, the short piece starts off with idyllic scenes and a few too many cherubs and naiads, relying heavily on the work of the French painter William Adolphe Bouguereau, but towards the end the tone turns darker, with images of violence, cannibalism and death. The autopsy close-up of Eakins’s The Gross Clinic actually had us cringing.
Illuminating news about Creed price tag
Fans of Martin Creed are looking forward to a survey of the maverick UK artist's work at the Hayward Gallery in London later this month ("What's the point of it?", 29 January-27 April). More enlightening news now on Creed, namely that Tate paid £136,095 for his installation Work no. 227, The Lights Going on and Off, 2000. The cheeky conceptual piece, now on view at Tate Britain, consists of an empty room that is filled with light for five seconds and then plunged into darkness for the same period (note: the money pays for the idea, not the bulbs). Creed's simple concept helped him win the Turner Prize the year after he devised the work. The Tate bought it last September, but was coy about the price (the Art Fund chipped in with £40,000 and, intriguingly, money was also given by the Ukrainian billionaire Konstantin Grigorishin).
The palate (and palette) of Mr Chow
Foodies revere Mr Chow, the famous restaurateur behind the eponymous Chinese restaurants found worldwide, from Miami to Malibu and Beverly Hills. But Michael Chow has another vocation in life, namely painting, and will present his first solo exhibition at Pearl Lam Galleries in Hong Kong this week ("Recipe for a Painter", 13 January-8 March). The large-scale mixed-media canvases draw on Abstract Expressionism and Colour Field Painting, incorporating detritus such as melted metal as well as gold leaf and silver. "For Chow, who paints under the pseudonym ‘Yinghua’—his Chinese name—the exhibition represents a return to his cultural heritage after a break of more than 50 years during which he became a prominent figure within the US art scene, as well as a serious collector of contemporary art," the organisers say. Chow has been appointed to the board of The Broad, Eli and Edythe Broad’s $130m contemporary art museum scheduled to open in downtown Los Angeles later this year.
Dental work you can afford
British collectors will now be able to sink their teeth into a David Shrigley limited edition brass sculpture of a single pearly white. The work, Brass Tooth, 2009 (edition of 80, £1,200 each), is being produced in the UK for the first time by The Multiple Store, which is exhibiting the sculpture at the London Art Fair next week (15-19 January). The toothy edition was previously published in the US by Cereal Art, but, because of “production issues”, Shrigley withdrew the reproduction rights from the Philadelphia-based company at the end of last year. Although some editions produced in the US were shipped to overseas buyers, the import tax from goods originating in the US made sales in Europe and the UK less appealing. “I’m delighted this piece is back in production,” Shrigley says. “It is one of the heaviest small works of art that I have made: It could be used for cracking nuts with. I imagine it will appeal to dentists and other people who are interested in teeth.”
Fujiwara's terracotta warrior (from Hackney)
The British artist Simon Fujiwara likes messing with your head; in 2012, he presented both real and imagined aspects of his personal biography in a retrospective at Tate St Ives in Cornwall. Meanwhile, his Frozen installation, comprising the remains of a Roman art market, was a talking point at the 2010 Frieze Art Fair in London. Fujiwara is now set to fox visitors to the Contemporary Art Society (CAS) in London (29 January-28 March) with the ambitious installation Rebekkah, 2012. The work is inspired by a 16-year-old girl from Hackney, east London who, say the organisers, was one of the protagonists in the riots that engulfed the UK capital in 2011. "Rebekkah was asked by Fujiwara to travel to China to take part in a unique social experiment, where her access to social media was restricted and she visited factories manufacturing the objects she aspired to own and took for granted," they add. Rebekkah was then (apparently) taken to see the famous terracotta army of China's first emperor Qin Shihuangdi. But how does the saga unravel? The Brit was taken to a factory where casts were made of her body, creating a contemporary terracotta troupe made up entirely of a teen warrior from the East End (or as the CAS website so eloquently puts it, "a representative of a new breed of British-born warrior and a soldier for social change".) Rebekkah was purchased for Leeds Art Gallery through the CAS Collections Committee.
Is there nothing the Swiss philosopher Alain de Botton cannot do? The London-based sage has written numerous books, and now turns his hand to curating. Along with the UK art historian John Armstrong, de Botton will present "Art as Therapy", a series of new captions for 150 works in the permanent collection of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum (25 April-7 September) that, say museum officials, “seek to confront the visitor with a set of deeply personal concerns: work, love, status, mortality and difficult relationships”. According to the museum website, this “anti-blockbuster” invites visitors to “connect their personal concerns with the works on permanent display, throwing an entirely new light on the collection of the Rijksmuseum”. Alain's insights into why art matters can be found in his weighty tome—published last year by Phaidon with Armstrong as co-author—which also goes by the name "Art as Therapy".
Greenaway's Russian revolution
The leading British director Peter Greenaway has spilled the beans on his forthcoming epic exhibition "The Golden Age of the Russian Avant-Garde" which is due to launch at the Moscow Museum and Exhibition Association Manege in April. The multimedia installation, a centrepiece of the UK-Russia 2014 festival supported by the British Council, will include more than 400 Russian avant-garde masterpieces. The Russian website lenta.ru, translated courtesy of the RBTH network, reports that images of key avant-garde works, some of them drawn from the Russian Museum in St Petersburg and Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery, along with excerpts from post-Revolution films will be shown across 12 screens mounted on three towers. Greenaway is keen to bring the protagonists of Russian Modernism to life in a series of film scenes (the highbrow director apparently travelled to Moscow in November, seeking actors to play avant-garde artists, poets and filmmakers such as Kandinsky, Malevich, Rodchenko, Filonov, Eisenstein and Mayakovsky). "We can create a dramatisation of actual events; all these characters, such as Mayakovsky, will continuously change, and speak, speak, speak," Greenaway says. But this riot of Russian creativity will not just be confined to Moscow. "The video installation designed by Peter Greenaway will return to London later in the year," the British Council says.