MoCA LA's new motto should be “I Will Survive”
Over the past decade, the annual fundraising gala for the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) became something of a bizarre spectacle, as the museum tried to put its best Louboutin-clad foot forward with dazzling, celebrity-packed events despite its severe financial instability and behind-the-scenes board dysfunction. This year was different: a down-to-earth, artist-packed welcoming party for MoCA’s new head, Philippe Vergne, where the celebratory spirit invoked by speakers, including the board’s co-chair Maurice Marciano, actually matched the mood of many. “I’m hopeful,” said John Baldessari, one of the three artists who recently rejoined the board after leaving in disgust in 2012, over a plate of corn ravioli. Dozens of other artists in attendance included Catherine Opie, Chris Burden, Paul McCarthy, Shepard Fairey, Laura Owens, Ryan Trecartin and Mark Bradford, while the larger-than-life (but smaller in person) entertainers on hand included Pharrell Williams and Ryan Seacrest. In his speech, Vergne stressed the museum’s ongoing commitment to artists’ “innovation” and “experimentation,” noting that the LA museum once literally allowed one of the artists present (Burden) to dig up its foundation. The star chanteuse Diana Ross topped the night by singing power anthems like “I’m Coming Out” and her cover of “I Will Survive”. Before Marciano made a matching pledge, the gala itself raised only $1.2m after expenses, well below recent high points. But it did raise spirits. —Jori Finkel
Enigmatic art live at Tate Modern
The works in the BMW Tate Live Performance Events series are nothing if not intriguing. The latest project is no exception: the Belgian artist Joëlle Tuerlinckx will enthrall visitors with a theatrical presentation combining live music, projected images, spoken passages and (rather radically) the timed movement of the blinds, screens and projectors in Tate Modern's Starr Auditorium. The event should transform how the audience perceives the space, but the sensory overload does not end there: the Belgian artist Christoph Fink has created a live soundtrack, providing a beguiling backdrop to the immersive experience. "Tuerlinckx has selected a group of people, peers and friends from her professional life to read a script and follow a series of movements on stage around objects that frequently appear in her work, such as bricks, wooden sticks, fabric and rope," a press statement says. THAT'S IT! (+3 free minutes) is due to take place 4 and 5 April.
Pass the fruit basket
Is it any coincidence that the pineapple, that most regal of all produce, appears to be wearing a crown? Clearly not, since it is “the king of all fruits”, according to Milwaukee’s Portrait Society Gallery. The commercial gallery is hosting a photography exhibition dedicated to the noble fruit, “23 Pineapples”, which opens on 1 April. And what better way to depict nature’s most beautiful bounty than in its natural state, surrounded adoringly by the serf-fruits that toil in its empire? This photograph, by Georgia Lloyd, is just one of piquant pleasures on view in this marvelous harvest—and all for a good cause: proceeds from the show go to Milwaukee’s Hunger Task Force, an organisation that feeds the city’s neediest.
Spot the difference
Copies, forgeries, fakes; practically no one wants them—but only practically. In November 2012, the art critic Jerry Saltz put out a challenge: make him a perfect reproduction of a Gerhard Richter abstract painting, and he would buy it for $155 (plus the cost of materials). The artist Stanley Casselman obliged, and now the fruits of his copy-cat labour are on view at the Gazelli Art House in London. (The two-person show also includes work by Hyo Myoung Kim.) Not that Casselman thinks he will fool anybody, least of all sharp-eyed collectors. As he puts it: “To the naive eye my work could be confused for that of [Richter], but to anyone with a basic understanding of Richter's work, there's no confusing my voice with his.” So, can you pick out the fake from the real Richter?
Dollar, dollar bills, ya’ll
Cash still rules everything around the Wu-Tang Clan, the New York hip-hop group that made its name in the mid-1990s with songs like “Bring Da Ruckus”. And they have certainly brought that ruckus with the announcement that their forthcoming album, The Wu—Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, will be released in an edition of one. That’s right: a single copy of the album, presented in a silver box carved by the the British-Moroccan artist Yahya, will be available to just one buyer. It will cost several million dollars, though the final price has yet to be set. Plebeians will have a chance to gaze at the multi-million dollar disc and its unnecessarily extravagant casing when it makes the rounds through a yet-to-be-determined set of galleries and museums. (Our money’s on a stop at Gagosian.) But admission will be steep: somewhere in the range of $30 to $50. “The creative output of today’s artists such as The RZA, Kanye West or Dr Dre, is not valued equally to that of artists like Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst or Jean-Michel Basquiat," the group said in a statement about its decision to release the unique LP. "By adopting a 400 year old Renaissance-style approach to music, offering it as a commissioned commodity and allowing it to take a similar trajectory from creation to exhibition to sale, as any other contemporary art piece, we hope to inspire and intensify urgent debates about the future of music. We hope to steer those debates toward more radical solutions and provoke questions about the value and perception of music as a work of art in today’s world.” The album “is a fascinating melting pot of art, luxury, revolution and inspiration". And, of course, those ubiquitous dollar bills.
But do you really want to put that on your CV?
Godofredo Rodríguez Pacheco is concerned about art education in Chile. And he is also concerned about politics. So he has a proposal: why not open a school of art—with a black swastika as its logo—named after the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet? “It is the masons who manipulate education and do not teach that which corresponds to the Third Reich,” Pacheco says. And the curriculum would not be restricted to fine art. Lessons in medicine and anatomy are also on the agenda. So far, no students have signed up. Pacheco, however, is not concerned. He “does not care” if he is “labelled a Nazi”. But he does acknowledge that, “if I talk about this in Europe, they [will] put me in jail.”
Did Bacon always bet on black?
Who knew that Francis Bacon lived and sometimes worked in Monaco? The hard-living British artist was sooner found in the casino than the studio, however, and completed few paintings during the summers he spent there from 1946 until the early 50s. None, in fact, survive from 1947. (Perhaps Francis discovered roulette that year?) Still, there is enough material for a Lebanese-Swiss hotelier, Majid Boustany, to establish the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation in Monaco, focusing on this period in the artist’s career. Boustany has built up a collection of Bacon’s works ranging from the late 1920s to the early 80s, including a little-known early foray into interior design, an archive of photos of the artist taken by friends and lovers, and a library of exhibition catalogues and studies. These will be available by appointment to researchers and members of the public when the foundation opens in the autumn—and when they can tear themselves away from the craps tables.
Dumas's gay trailblazers for St Petersburg: Turing, Wilde and Tchaikovsky too
The chief curator of Manifesta 10, which is due to open at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg in June, announced today (25 March) his artist list and curatorial ideas for the roving biennial. Kasper König will focus on the "current geo-political situation" through the works of 55 artists. But President Putin, who has enforced anti-gay laws, might not be too pleased with artist Marlene Dumas's portraits of pioneering homosexual men due to go on show in the Winter Palace. "Dumas has conceived a new series of portraits of notable cultural figures, whose achievements can be celebrated above their identification as homosexual men," says a press statement. Alan Turing, Oscar Wilde, Pier Paolo Pasolini, and Jean Genet will feature in Dumas's illustrious line-up, alongside another artistic titan—the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Other artists with works in the biennial include Russian-born Vadim Fishkin, Elena Kovylina, Vladislav and Mamyshev-Monroe; Bruce Nauman; Belgian born Francis Alÿs and Lara Favaretto of Italy. Jordi Colomer's installation, a car with a blinking neon sign mounted on the roof flashing "No? Future"’, should stop the citizens of St Petersburg in their tracks. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian-born photographer Boris Mikhailov's new project, The Theater of War. Second Act, Time Out, is a sign of the times (Mikhailov visited Kiev’s Maidan Independence Square, the focal point for anti-government protestors).
London milkmaids arrive at Yale Center for British Art
The role of milkmaids became a topic of discussion for the UK's Export Reviewing Committee. Benjamin West's Milkmaids in St James's Park, Westminster Abbey beyond, around 1800, was sold at Christie's last year for £218,500, and we can report that it was bought by the Yale Center for British Art in New Haven, Connecticut. Astonishingly, right up until 1905 cows were pastured in St James's Park and young milkmaids in rustic costume would sell fresh, warm milk to strollers. When the West recently came before the committee, their expert advisor sung its praises, saying it was of "outstanding" historical significance. The Yale Center's representative, anxious to get an export licence, disagreed, saying that the picture would be unlikely to "reveal any new information pertaining to... milking cattle in the park". The committee agreed—and the West has just arrived in America.
Rijksmuseum rolls out the red carpet for President Obama today
Barack Obama visited the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam today during a visit to the Netherlands for the Nuclear Security Summit. And since Obama is the first ever serving US president to come by the museum, its director general, Wim Pijbes, pulled out all the stops. The group toured the main upper floor, devoted to the Dutch Golden Age, including stops to visit Vermeer’s Milkmaid, Rembrandt’s Syndics and paintings by Hals and Steen. Speaking in front of Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, 1642, Obama said that “this is easily the most impressive backdrop I’ve had for a press conference”. And perhaps still making up for a political gaff last month, when an off-the-cuff remarks about the practical use of an art history degree raised hackles in liberals arts departments around the country, the US president made sure to say he was “proud to be here with some of the Dutch masters I studied at school”.
All seeing: Douglas Gordon at the Sydney Biennale
The Scottish artist Douglas Gordon was on fighting, feisty form today (21 March) at the 19th Sydney Biennale. The Turner prize winner, in conversation with the Biennale's artistic director Juliana Engberg, didn't hold back in his musings on Australia, his childhood and why he can't stop crying. Gordon got the ball rolling by asking the audience: "Hands up who doesn't like authority?" (Courageous) prospective hecklers were invited to shout any protests at the front of the stage, while the artist admitted that when he first visited Oz 18 years ago, he thought he'd never return. For him, "the 2014 Biennale does not require a glossary. You can wander into anything [any work]... you don't need a f***** Phd." Growing up, he was captivated by the production stills sited outside Glasgow's cinemas. "I remember looking at [actor] Malcolm McDowell's eye.... but only saw 'A Clockwork Orange' 25 years later." Meanwhile, the maverick revealed that he cries "all the time". Indeed, optical allusions popped up frequently in the keynote speech, especially since Gordon's impressive piece on show at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Phantom (2011), comprises a film of an eye encircled in smoky black kohl, a grand piano and the remains of a burnt piano strewn across the floor (the dulcet tones of singer Rufus Wainwright also fill the space). "It's not just an eye," pondered Gordon. "It's a hole but we do not know which hole." And what did his family make of the piece? "My mum and dad accepted it," observed the artist. "And it made me realise I'm more conservative than my parents."
Je regrette in Reims
The citizens of Reims will have to wait a little longer for the David Chipperfield-designed new home of the city's Musée des Beaux Arts to be built, their mayor has announced with regrets. Launched in 2009 and due to open in 2018, the €55m project has now been pushed back until 2020. Adeline Hazan told Le Monde newspaper that first an Olympic-sized swimming pool in the city needs fixing. It requires €25m of repair work. Rehoming the art museum is her next priority, however, not least because more space is required to take up a promised donation of 663 works by Léonard Foujita. The Tokyo-born artist who moved to France in 1913 is buried in a chapel in Reims, which he decorated with frescoes shortly before his death in 1968 aged 84.
Wish you were here, Love Rasputin
Tourism officials in Tyumen, Siberia are hoping to capitalise on the region’s dubious honor as the birthplace of Grigory Rasputin with the goal of creating “a real tourist cluster”. The mystic whose influence on the family of Nicholas II is thought by many to have been so destructive that it brought down tsarist Russia and led to the Bolshevik Revolution was born in a village called Pokrovskoye that already has a museum devoted to him. Soon a museum for the Romanovs will open there, as will a new hotel. Pokrovskoye is near Tobolsk, a historic city where the Romanovs spent the last months of their lives before being executed in Yekaterinburg in 1918. Sound like a fun fact for the tourist brochure.
Long-haul for Lichtenstein
A towering sculpture by Roy Lichtenstein is coming home again—but it will not be easy to get it there. On 27 March, a fleet of flatbed trucks are due to transport Tokyo Brushstroke I & II, 1994, to the Parrish Art Museum in Long Island, where a crane will lower the work into a cement brace on the institution’s front lawn. The 17,000lb, two-part aluminium sculpture is the first long-term outdoor installation at the museum’s Herzog & de Meuron-designed building, which opened in 2012. The East End institution is a fitting host: Lichtenstein and his wife Dorothy moved to the area in 1970 and the artist collaborated with the museum on several shows before his death in 1997. The work is on renewable loan for five years from the New York collectors Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman, who also have a home in the Hamptons. “It’s a symbol of something it isn’t and that is part of the irony I’m interested in,” Lichtenstein has said of the sculpture, which is from his larger “brushstroke” series. Indeed, real brushstrokes, no matter how laden with emotion, are never that heavy.
“The Rolling Stones to rock Circus Maximus on 22 June!” The former chariot-racing stadium will be transformed once again into a mass entertainment venue, as Mick, Keith, Charlie and Ronnie have announced a one-off concert at the ancient Roman arena as part of their “14 On Fire” tour. In an open letter to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Rome’s mayor, Ignazio Marino, confessed to being a “true fan” of the Stones. He revealed he had been planning to “bring the legends of rock to the heart of Rome” since his election, and defended the event against criticism from the city’s archaeological superintendency. The heritage authority has asked the mayor’s office to devise an “extraordinary security plan” to protect the site from the 60,000-strong crowd expected to turn out. As for Mick Jagger, he tweeted in Italian, “Non vedo l’ora” (I can’t wait).
Red carpet time for Grayson Perry
Since 1988, the British Critics’ Circle has been presenting its Award for Distinguished Service in the Arts, but not a single visual artist has won—until now. The English potter Grayson Perry will be given the prize in a ceremony on 28 March. The cross-dressing artist is being honored for his ability to “puncture assumptions and comment on contemporary society” and because his work has “appealed to a diverse and often unexpected audience,” according to a press release. So, important question time: what will the artist— or his alter ego, Claire—wear? When Perry received a CBE from Prince Charles in January, he was dressed to impress in a demure gown and black hat. (“His attire was entirely appropriate,” a palace spokeswoman told the Daily Express.) Perhaps that is a taste of things to come.
Carsten lightens the mood in Hong Kong
Spending long days at an art fair can take its toll on even the most seasoned dealer. Neon lighting, a lack of windows and stale air can blight spirits. But for Art Basel Hong Kong this year, the Berlin artist Carsten Nicolai has developed a way of helping you unwind with a pulsing light installation that affects mood. Emanating from the entire 490-meter-long façade of the International Commerce Centre in West Kowloon, the display will be visible throughout the city each night from 15 to 17 May. A phone app will provide the acoustic accompaniment for the full mood-altering experience.
Diving into archaeology
The rubble-strewn remains of a 1,600-year-old basilica, dedicated to St Neophytos, have been discovered under Lake Iznik in Turkey’s northwestern Bursa province. Though located only 20 metres from the shore, and at a depth of around 2 metres, the basilica’s existence was unknown until January, when aerial photographs of the area were taken as part of a project to record local historic monuments. A diving team has now investigated the submerged structure and, due to similarities with the Hagia Sophia church in Iznik, experts have dated it to the fourth or fifth centuries. They have suggested it was built on the spot where Roman soldiers martyred St Neophytos in AD303; occurrences of the saint’s name have been found nearby and Medieval engravings show the saint being killed on the edge of a lake. It is thought an earthquake in AD740 caused the basilica to collapse and sink under the lake. The future of the site now rests in the hands of Turkey’s Culture and Tourism Ministry, who can designate it a protected site or open it up to recreational divers.
Cristina Iglesias goes with the flow in Toledo
Not one to shy away from the monumental, the Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias will unveil her largest work to date, a three-part sculptural installation called Tres Aguas, in the city of Toledo on 7 April. The three sculptures, which are made from metal, stone and water, are due to become permanent fixtures in the hilltop city. Conceived as a journey through Toledo, Tres Aguas draws on the mixed cultural history of the city, in the Iberian Peninsula, where Muslims, Jews and Christians lived together peacefully for several centuries during the Middle Ages. Visitors are encouraged to walk between Iglesias’s three sculptures: one can be found inside a Mudejar water tower by the River Tagus, the second is installed in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento in the centre of Toledo and the third is in a secluded garden in the Santa Clara convent. Each work taps into the city’s water system—meaning the project has taken more than three years to complete, according to James Lingwood, the co-director of the London-based organisation Artangel, which commissioned the work with the El Greco 2014 Foundation. The Plaza del Ayuntamiento installation consists of a cast metal surface sunk into the ground, over which water will flow “like a river”, Lingwood says, adding: “It’s a convivial piece, but not one to frolic in.”
Tate Modern loves its neighbours
Staying true to its south London roots, Tate Modern has commissioned a photographer from Peckham to document the African churches in Southwark—the largest African Christian community outside of Africa. As part of the 2014 edition of its community project, Tate Modern and You, the museum asked Chloe Dewe Mathews to produce a body of work that refers to its extension, due to open in 2016, and to observe the changes taking place in the area. Taking her cue from Tate Modern’s transformation from power station to museum, Dewe Mathews decided to look at the conversion of industrial and commercial sites into cultural spaces (in the loosest sense of the term “cultural”). Many new churches in Southwark are housed in former warehouses, factories or bingo halls and Mathews is spending her Sundays photographing them and their congregations. Not religious, but a church-goer as a child, the photographer says she was “thrilled” to arrive at Liberty House Church in Peckham on her first shoot to find “a full audio-visual extravaganza of coloured lights, a sound desk with eight-piece band, projection screens and 200 worshippers filling the former ironmongery”. Dew Mathews’s photographs are due to go on show at Tate Modern on 28 May.
Erwin Wurm’s sausage fest
“The sausage is a European icon,” the artist Erwin Wurm told a group of laughing journalists in a preview for his current exhibition at Lehmann Maupin, “Synthesa” (until 26 April). “Don’t laugh,” he warned—though it was hard not to looking at a sculpture of two frankfurters in a passionate embrace. Cute, yes, but Wurm also has a serious sausage side, especially in a group of works that reference Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International.
Fowl track fear in Folkestone
It's worth heading to Folkestone for the third triennial this summer (30 August-2 November) just to see a series of headless chickens placed prominently on five buildings dotted around the UK coastal town. But these intriguing poultry pieces are not just decorative items, and will act as a "neurotic early worrying system", say the creators rootoftwo, a Detroit-based hybrid design studio co-directed by John Marshall and Cezanne Charles. The chickens, catchily entitled the Whithervanes will, says a press statement, "track and measure the production of fear on the Internet" by responding to predetermined keywords centered on doom, gloom and trepidation found in Reuters news stories ("war" and "economic collapse" are among the decidedly downbeat terms). The capon will spin around accordingly and light up when the angst-ridden phrases filter through. So what is the point of the apocalyptic cockerel? "This 'early worrying system' highlights how much our contemporary media, policy and political frameworks utilise fear as a persuasive method," say the organisers.
Who you calling degenerate?
Oscar Kokoschka’s Self-portrait of a Degenerate Artist, 1937, will be a star loan in an exhibition on the Nazis’ attitude towards Modern art, which opens at New York’s Neue Galerie on 13 March. The painting is normally on show at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art as an anonymous long-term loan, but we can name the lender as the heirs of Emil Korner. A friend of the artist, Korner had gone into exile to escape Hitler, later moving to Fort William in Scotland. In the self-portrait, Kokoschka altered the position of his arms to make them appear more defiant, and even in real life, the artist kept a sanguine mood when the Nazis labelled him as “degenerate”. When he learned that two million visitors had seen his pictures mocked in the 1937 “Entartete Kunst” exhibition in Munich, he cheekily responded that never had so many people seen his work.
Artists passionate about Jesus
With the onset of Lent last week (5 March), now is a good time to head down to St. Marylebone Parish Church in central London to see "Stations of the Cross", an exhibition of 20 artists' representations of the Passion of Christ (until 17 April). These include Mat Collishaw, Paul Fryer and Alison Jackson who give their own take on the trials of Jesus. Most of the works in the exhibition, organised by the public art body ArtBelow, are for sale (Antony Micallef's mischievous Kill your Idol, which shows Christ facing the judges on a US reality show, is priced at £40,000). A percentage of the profits go towards The Missing Tom Fund, a charity designed to support exhibition organiser and ArtBelow founder Ben Moore in the search for his brother who went missing ten years ago. The works are also on display at certain London Underground stations (so you may spot Christ on your daily commute).
The woodsman and the artist
A woodcutter’s friendship with the Modern British artist Ivon Hitchens could net him over £1m. A collection of works that Hitchens gave to Ted Floate, who worked near the artist’s studio by the grounds of Petworth House in West Sussex, are being offered for sale for the first time at the Goldmark Gallery, a regional gallery in Rutland, central England (15 March to 6 April). The (possibly apocryphal) story, according to the art dealer Jeremy Green, who organised the show, is that Hitchens wandered out from his caravan studio one day and put out a bonfire that Floate and his colleagues had deliberately left burning while they had some lunch. Floate later assured the artist that he was in control of the situation and the two then struck up a friendship that saw the woodcutter help with framing, canvas-stretching—and sometimes modelling, he’s the chap on the right in The Two Woodsmen, 1956—in return for paintings, watercolours and drawings that the artist gave him between the 1950s until Hitchens’s death in 1979. Floate, who is now 85 and recently widowed, is moving out of the cottage in which he has always kept the works, most of which have never been seen in public, and has decided to sell them. The ten oil paintings are priced between £70,000 and £130,000 and drawings from £3,000 to £5,000. Interest in Hitchens is growing: in November, his record price at auction was set at £242,500 for A Mill and Pool, 1960, at Christie’s in London.
This is a man’s world—except when it isn’t
When the Bruce High Quality Foundation announced plans to show exclusively women artists at its final “Brucennial” exhibition (7 March-4 April), the collective refused to explain why: “We’re not going to discuss the gender or sex of the artists,” they said in a statement. But they did explain it to the artists in a separate email: “Our imperfect answer is to put on an exhibition that shows the work of women, but does not draw attention to their gender or sex… We want to do everything possible to avoid having the show described as ‘a women’s show.’ We mention it to you, so that you have the facts and can make your own decision about whether or not to participate.” Then they asked artists not to forward the message. But unsurprisingly the move rankled a few people, including one Brucennial alum, the sculptor Elliott Arkin. When Arkin learned he would not be allowed to show in this year’s event, he told his friend and fellow artist Monica Gripman. She responded with the idea to submit his piece—a clay self-portrait—under her name. “I thought it was a great Duchampian gesture,” Arkin said. The Bruces accepted Gripman’s proposal, but when Arkin arrived to install it, they emailed a rejection, saying they were “not going to get into an argument with you about what is or isn’t appropriation. We’re not including the work because we don’t want to.”
New York drawing marathon to begin
It is never too late to learn something new. Next week, the performance artist Suzanne Lacy is scheduled to take intensive drawing lessons from the multimedia artist Andrea Bowers as part of a nine-day performance at The Drawing Centre in New York (15-23 March). The artists, who both explore issues of labour, feminism and education in their work, are expected to live in the museum for the duration of the show. By night, they will sleep in tents in the galleries; by day, Bowers will offer Lacy severe hour-long drawing lessons interspersed with formal drawing practice. The Drawing Centre’s curator Claire Gilman approached the artists with the idea for the show after reading an interview in which Bowers discussed her desire to teach Lacy, who is 20 years her senior, to draw. Who says museums are only educational for their visitors?
An American president in Paris
Vive la revolution! The Louvre is experiencing the revolutionary spirit again but this time it has a decidedly American accent. “New Frontier III: Anglo-American Portraiture in an Era of Revolution” (28 April) is the third instalment in an exhibition series at the Paris museum that is a collaborative effort with the High Museum of Art, Atlanta the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville and the Terra Foundation for American Art, Chicago. Not surprisingly, George Washington, the father of the country, features heavily, but research for the show has resulted in a new attribution of one his portraits, on loan from the Château de Versailles. Once thought to be an 1830s copy of an older work, the works is now believed to have been painted by Charles Willson Peale, and the Louvre’s head curator of painting has traced its provenance to Guillaume-Chrétien de Lamoignon-Malesherbes, a former Minister of Louis XVI, making it among the first portraits of Washington to cross the Atlantic.
This summer’s hottest ticket: Palaeolithic cave art
Five lucky visitors, chosen at random each week from now until August, have the chance to explore the Cave of Altamira, a Unesco World Heritage Site known as the “Sistine Chapel of Palaeolithic Art”, which has been closed to the public since 2002. To enter the lottery, visitors must be aged 16 or older and buy a ticket to the Museum of Altamira in Santillana del Mar, Cantabria, northern Spain, where staff will draw a handful of names every morning, starting today. Those chosen get to enter the cave wearing disposable overalls, hats, masks and special shoes (stylish!) provided by the museum to protect the ancient murals of bison, horses and other animals, dating from 35,000BC to 11,000BC. The goal of the limited entry is to allow conservators to analyse the impact of human on Altamira’s delicate environment and help officials decide whether it should be reopened to the public permanently. According to Unesco, because of the deep galleries, isolated from the outside climate, the cave art has been particularly well preserved. But in recent years scientists blamed mould growing on the paintings to the body heat and moisture brought in by large numbers of visitors.
Winston Churchill: prime minister, painter and art promoter
Winston Churchill’s love for Marrakech is well known. Calling it “the most beautiful place in the world at sunset”, the British prime minister even put his war duties on hold to escape to the city with Theodore Roosevelt in 1943. He also played a role in fostering one of Morocco’s greatest artistic talents. That same year, the Pacha of Marrakech, Thami El Glaoui, told Churchill he was worried that his son wanted to become a painter. The Pacha had a political career in mind for his son, but Churchill, having seen the young boy’s talents (and having a soft spot as a painter himself), managed to convince the father to let his son study art. Hassan El Glaoui left for Paris in 1950 and went on to become one of Morocco’s pre-eminent artists. Paintings of Marrakech by El Glaoui and Churchill were shown side-by-side during the opening of the Marrakech Biennale in “Meetings in Marrakech-Paintings by Sir Winston Churchill and Monsieur Hassan El Glaoui” at the city’s La Mamounia Hotel where Churchill often stayed.
Oscar winning director (and Turner prize artist) picks Hollywood over Hugo Boss
When Hollywood calls, the art world may just have to wait. The artist-turned-film-director Steve McQueen has quietly withdrawn his name from consideration for the 2014 Hugo Boss Prize because of the demands of promoting his Oscar-winning movie 12 Years A Slave. “Mr McQueen will be unable to fulfil the requirements of the selection process,” says the website of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; those requirements include a major contribution to the catalogue for the award and a potential show at the Guggenheim in New York. Five nominees, including Paul Chan and Camille Henrot, remain in the running for the biennial, $100,000 prize. A partner at McQueen’s London gallery, Thomas Dane, said prior to the award ceremony in LA that the film-maker has no additional comment to make. “There is nothing to add,” Martine d’Anglejan-Chatillon said. “He is in LA promoting the film.” For a man who’s already won the Turner Prize, perhaps an Oscar simply has the greater sheen.
Warhol superstar shines on
One of Warhol’s “superstars”, the coterie of friends and personalities that would appear in Andy’s films during the 1960s and follow the Pop artist everywhere, is still garnering art world attention. Ultra Violet, 78, born Isabelle Collin Dufresne will be included in the American Academy of Arts and Letters invitational exhibition, opening 6 March and running until 12 April. Her recent work will be shown alongside examples by contemporary market darlings like Wade Guyton, and many of the show’s artists go on the become Academicians. Hearing about her inclusion “brought tears of joy to my eyes”, said Ultra Violet, who still keeps studios in Chelsea and Nice.