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News from London: Quinn’s polymorphous perversity and Joffe’s secret shop

A night at the Turk’s head, a farewell to Tate Modern’s bon viveur, and the only party to support on election night

Well hung at the polls

It was perhaps fitting that on the night the country went to the polls and proved itself incapable of deciding which party to commit to, the art world was also busily indulging in its own form of ambivalence as it toasted the unveiling of Marc Quinn’s new sculptures devoted to such trans-gendered individuals as niche porn stars Allanah—who sports both breasts and a penis—and bearded Buck, described in the trade as “the man with a pussy”. As votes were counted across the land, an increasingly bacchanalian art crew and its acolytes—including actress Gillian Anderson and White Cube stalwart Will Self—partied on in Quinn’s studio (pictured, performer Danni Daniels), where guests were torn between checking election results on their iPhones and gawping at a trio of naked transsexual dancers who strutted their stuff atop plinths and prompted one wag to comment that, whichever way things were swinging in Parliament, in Mr Quinn’s studio the outcome was decidedly well hung.

Jasper Joffe’s bargain bin

Jasper Joffe, the Saatchi-collected artist and founder of the Free Art Fair (which in the past has handed out freebies by the likes of Bob and Roberta Smith and Marlene Dumas), is well known for his desire to democratise the consumption of art. Recently he launched a vociferous attack on a rather nonplussed Frieze co-director, Matthew Slotover, during an “Intelligence Squared” debate devoted to the motion that art fairs were about money not art. Now this fearless campaigner has further upped his egalitarian ante by opening the latest exhibition of his paintings in an “everything for a pound” shop in the east London district of Dalston. Until 7 June his canvases (pictured)—many of which depict upper class ladies from the 1970s—can be found among the discount stock of the Madan Accessories store in Kingsland Road, although the artist is quick to point out that his altruistic urges do not extend to pricing his works in line with the surrounding goods. The large canvases carry a price tag of £3,000, while smaller works are on offer for £399, and not £3.99, as one crestfallen customer discovered when he took a canvas up to the till along with a bundle of cleaning fluids and kitchen utensils.

Bring me the head of Gavin Turk

We all know that Gavin Turk is the most mutable of artists, the Alec Guinness or—for those with long memories—the Lon Chaney of the art world, capable of morphing into multiple famous identities including Che Guevara, Joseph Beuys, Andy Warhol, Jean-Paul Marat and Sid Vicious, to name but a few. But recently the many modes of Turk entered a new and unpredictable incarnation when the artist invited over 100 friends and fellow artists to a strictly black tie “Bust Party” where the formally clad throng were invited to alter a multitude of wet clay, life-sized portrait busts of Turk in any way they chose. Fuelled by a seemingly endless flow of vodka cocktails, the formally clad guests threw themselves into this “interactive performance event” with increasingly violent alterations and distortions—none more so than the offspring of artist Cedric Christie who turned into squashing and pummelling mudlarks while being given an increasingly wide berth by everyone else present. In the best Warholian tradition, Turk’s chums (pictured, Jetsam) became his studio assistants, and 70 of the best busts will show at the end of this month at CAC Málaga (25 June-2 September) under the umbrella title of “En Face”, with each bearing a name that is an anagram of Turk’s own.

Adiós Vicente Todoli (hic)

So farewell then to Vicente Todoli, who this month leaves our shores after seven years as the much esteemed director of Tate Modern for a period of what he has described as “active rest” before embarking on projects new. No doubt this hiatus will involve activities of an artistic nature, but it will also be devoted to his other great love: namely a passion for the finest of wines, especially those from Portugal and his native Spain. Indeed, such is Señor Todoli’s expertise in all things vinous, that last month he was given the ultimate accolade of a profile in Decanter magazine, the wine-lover’s bible, which reveals that his dual affection for art and wine has merged in some unexpected ways. Apparently the Todoli wine journey began in earnest while on a Fulbright Scholarship to New York where an early vino-guru was none other than the veteran English artist Richard Hamilton, who refined the young curator’s taste for Spanish wines away from traditional riojas and showed him how “to move the wine around in the mouth”. Certainly many of us have had the opportunity to do likewise with this most generous of wine buffs, especially at the Tate events where he invariably had a few of his own bottles stashed behind the bar to dispense to a favoured few. The London art world will be a bleaker place without this most bon of bon viveurs.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'The only party to support on election night'