One of North Africa’s least travelled regions, Libya’s Western Mountains – the Jebel Nafusah– is an area crying out to be discovered. Inhabited by both Arabs and Amazighs (Berbers), the dramatic terrain is dotted with villages steeped in history, which are a delight to explore. Most settlements have a well-preserved old quarter, some of which hold cleverly designed ancient qasrs (granary stores), which acted as food banks for the local populace. Old dwellings, mosques with vaulted ceilings and ancient olive oil presses are also identifiable. – By Claudia Woszczyk
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- 04/04/14--08:39: _Park Avenue Armory
- 04/04/14--10:56: _Slideshow: Frédéric...
- 04/04/14--11:33: _Baselworld 2014's T...
- 04/04/14--12:06: _Monumental and Auto...
- 04/05/14--04:36: _Van Gogh's "Sunflow...
- 04/06/14--04:59: _Opportunity Knocks:...
- 04/07/14--04:03: _18 Questions for Ba...
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- 04/07/14--08:20: _Preview of Bonham's...
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- 04/07/14--11:28: _PREVIEW: Bonhams' F...
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- 04/04/14--08:39: Park Avenue Armory
- 04/04/14--11:33: Baselworld 2014's Top 5 Innovative Feats
- 04/04/14--12:06: Monumental and Autobiographical: Ai Weiwei in Berlin
- 04/05/14--04:36: Van Gogh's "Sunflowers," Side by Side at the National Gallery
- 04/06/14--04:59: Opportunity Knocks: Brothers in Law on Deaccessioning
- 04/07/14--04:03: 18 Questions for Ballroom Culture Chronicler Frédéric Nauczyciel
- 04/07/14--06:51: “Art Everywhere” Hits US, NYC Gets New Arts Commissioner, and More
- 04/07/14--08:20: Preview of Bonham's Fine Jewelry Sale
- 04/07/14--09:31: Slideshow: "Where Architects Live" at Salone del Mobile 2014
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- 04/08/14--04:28: Dealer's Notebook: Q&A With Gallerist Lisa Sette
- 04/08/14--06:18: Amazigh Villages in Jebel Nafusah, Libya
- 04/08/14--07:02: Hirst Plots Autobiography, Broads Nab Kusama Infinity Room, and More
- 04/08/14--11:10: Slideshow: Highlights from Dallas Art Fair 2014
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— Prince’s “Canal Zone” Gets a Victory Lap: Richard Prince’s “Canal Zone” series will be making a victory lap at Gagosian’s Upper East Side location in May, following his win of the lengthy court battle over appropriation of an existing photographic series by Patrick Cariou. The series was first shown at Gagosian’s Chelsea location in 2008, and its rehanging will include 12 to 14 paintings on loan from collectors and from Prince, of which only a small number will be for sale. Art dealer Larry Gagosian said, “Because of the litigation, everything was frozen.” He added, “The art has to be put in storage. We couldn’t sell the catalog. But now that the air has cleared, it seemed like a good moment to take another look at the work.” [NYT]
— Another Nazi-Looted Art Movie Casted: Just when we thought the hype surrounding George Clooney’s “Monuments Men” had finally come to an end, news of a new movie centered on Nazi-looted art has been released. “The Woman in Gold” will star Helen Mirren as real-life Jewish refugee Maria Altmann, who successfully reclaimed five Gustav Klimt paintings from Austria in 2000. Ryan Reynolds and Daniel Bruhl will play her lawyers. [Variety]
— Russia and Australia Name Venice Reps: Two more countries have announced their representatives for the 2015 Venice Biennale. Irina Nakhova will be representing Russia and Fiona Hall will be showing at Australia’s pavilion. Nakhova, an installation artist and painter who is a member of the unofficial artists’ group of the Moscow Conceptual School, will make history as the first woman to represent Russia in a solo pavilion. Linda Michael and Simon Mordant will curate the Australian pavilion’s presentation of Fiona Hall. [GalleristNY, GalleristNY]
— Baldessari’s Camel Contested: Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz is none too pleased about the plan to install a $400,000 John Baldessari camel sculpture at the new U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. [TAN]
— Italy Deploys Tech to Save Heritage: Italy has caught a lot of flack lately for their neglect of cultural heritage, but the country is employing two high-tech solutions: a new app that allows people to report art theft and ground sensors and satellites that have been deployed to assess stability at Pompeii. [AFP, AFP]
— Times Critics “Boldly Go”: Lest anyone accuse the Times art critics of being out of touch, they’ve published a new gallery guide in which five writers visit “five districts where the gallery scene is thriving”: the Upper East Side, Lower East Side, Brooklyn, Chelsea, and SoHo. [NYT]
— Turkish artists are concerned about issues of free speech and censorship following Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s pledge “to wipe out Twitter” leading up to his recent elections victory. [TAN]
— The authenticity of a calligraphic scroll on view at China’s newly opened Long Museum is in dispute. [South China Morning Post]
— A recent court ruling in New York requiring collectors to produce additional experts in forgeries cases could make the legal process for such lawsuits even more complicated. [TAN]
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Among the most intriguing innovations seen at the recently concluded Baselworld 2014 were introductions of never-before-used materials in the watchmaking industry, boundary-pushing complications, and intricately hand-painted dials.
Here are BLOUIN Lifestyle’s top five innovations from the watch fair.
Hublot Classic Fusion Tourbillon Firmament
Propelling luxury timepieces into even rarer space is Hublot, which has launched a watch with a dial made from osmium, one of rarest metals on Earth and an entirely new material to the watchmaking industry. Osmium crystals are known to have a reflectivity twice that of gold, contributing to the allure of this timepiece’s osmium crystal dial. The watch runs on the HUB6017 Manufacture Hand-wound Skeleton Tourbillon movement. features a black ceramic bezel, an open case-back with sapphire crystal window, and is mounted on a black alligator strap stitched onto a black rubber.
Chopard L.U.C Tourbillon QF Fairmined
French watch and jewelry house Chopard has launched the world’s first watch made of Fairmined gold from South America. (Fairmined gold is ethical gold extracted by artisanal and small-scale miners, thereby supporting responsible certified miners and their families that follow strict requirements for social development, environmental protection, labor conditions and economic development in their mining communities.) The timepiece is an elegant tourbillon, based on the L.U.C Tourbillon Qualité Fleurier, with a nine-day power reserve. Aside from its Fairmined gold case and bezel, the watch features alternating satin-brushed and polished surfaces, a sapphire crystal case-back and a hand-sewn alligator leather strap.
Louis Vuitton Escale Worldtime
The most exciting feature of Louis Vuitton’s new Escale Worldtime watch for men has got to be its hand-painted dial — involving 38 different colors and more than 50 hours of handiwork — inspired by the house’s vintage trunk monograms and illustrating a variety of international metropolises on rotating discs. Clearly designed for luxe globetrotters, the watch features a white gold case, no bezel, a calibre LV 106 movement and a 38-hour power reserve.
Bremont Boeing Model 247
The debut chronograph in Bremont’s collaboration with the aerospace company is named for the first Boeing twin-engine commercial aircraft, its two ‘twin-like’ subdials reflecting this inspiration. The timepiece features a black or white dial and a case made of a proprietary aviation-grade steel. which is double vacuum-melted for the aerospace industry and is developed to be as scratch- and corrosive-resistant as possible. The hardened case incorporates screw down crowns and chrono pushers, together with an exhibition sapphire crystal case back.
Tag Heuer Monaco V4 Tourbillon
Commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Monaco V4, the TAG Heuer Monaco V4 Tourbillon is possibly one of the most technically impressive timepieces the brand has ever produced. While a tourbillon mechanically regulates the speed at which a watch beats, overcoming gravity by placing the balance wheel and escapement inside a rotating cage, the Monaco V4 Tourbillon complicates this technology further by using a micro-belt to drive the tourbillon. Four barrels are held and rotated on ball bearings, and set on a striking V-shaped main plate.
He had hoped to come to Germany until the last moment. Alas, on Wednesday, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s largest solo exhibition to date opened at Berlin’s Martin-Gropius-Bau in his absence. Ai’s art can travel; he can’t. So he sent monumental installations, many of them new, by ship. Most galleries don’t have the space for a show of these dimensions. The exhibition of this superstar, who hasn’t been able to show in China for years, is a real coup for the Martin-Gropius-Bau, where Ai Weiwei’s work is sprawled across 18 rooms.
Dozens of surveillance cameras outside his Beijing studio monitor Ai. He has decorated them with red lanterns; marble replicas of those cameras now welcome visitors in the entry hall of the Martin-Gropius-Bau. They are made from the same marble Ai used to create miniature models of the Diaoyu Islands that Japan and China are currently disputing. Incidentally, the marble also came from the same quarry that the Chinese state had tapped for the construction of Mao’s mausoleum. In his “Study of Perspective” photographs, Ai gives the finger to famous edifices. The background of one picture includes Tiananmen Square, where government powers bloodily suppressed the peaceful protests of 1989. The Chinese government didn’t like that, and Ai keeps taunting and needling. The West celebrates the dissident; in Germany, he is one of the most popular contemporary artists.
Ai’s art is brazen, bold, and direct. “Evidence” is the title of his new exhibition; he says it’s about proving the truth. The fact that his work holds so much truth polarizes, and his critics accuse him of using the political situation to make a name for himself. But the 56-year-old is hardly so conceited. He created an entire body of work related to the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province in which tens of thousands were killed, including thousands of children who were buried under badly constructed school buildings. Ai investigated in spite of the government’s cover-up attempts: in Berlin, he’s exhibiting deformed steel reinforcements from the rubble of one of these schools. Straightened and piled up, the bars can also be seen as a metaphor for the corruption that pervades everyday Chinese life — the corruption for which China’s mushrooming cities offer a perfect breeding ground. Ai also had the Martin-Gropius-Bau’s gigantic atrium filled with a sea of wooden stools, some of which are more than 100 years old. Left behind in empty houses, they bear mute witness to China’s massive rural exodus.
In 1995, Ai denounced the death of cultural history in communist China with a legendary documented performance in which he smashed a precious Han Dynasty vase on the ground. A number of such 2,000-year-old receptacles are currently on display in Berlin; Ai has covered them with brightly colored car paint. As such, tradition is trapped under the shiny surface of the new Chinese capitalism that sets the tone for relations with the West. Just recently, President Xi Jiping signed a number of high-profile agreements in Berlin in front of the publicity cameras; while Germany and China intensify their economic relationship, the question of human rights remains the elephant in the room.
Ai Weiwei was arrested in 2011 and spent 81 days in a tiny cell, watched around the clock by two warders. He rebuilt the cell to scale. At Gropius-Bau, visitors can experience the claustrophobic atmosphere for themselves. Ai had his handcuffs reproduced in jade, a stone traditionally used for Chinese handicrafts. In another installation, numerous computers, hard drives, and telephones — all confiscated in searches — stand in neat rows. Ai’s work is quickly becoming more autobiographical.
The brightest spotlight of the exhibition and its exhaustive coverage — rarely has an art exhibition received so much front-page press in Germany — shines, once more, on the dissident rather than on the artist. Only a few early works from Ai’s time in New York, where he lived from 1981 to 1993, display his artistic roots. They are ready-mades in the tradition of Marcel Duchamp, his great role model, among them “Suitcase for a Bachelor.” Ai was already packed for Berlin. In an interview he recently said he felt like one of those wooden stools: left behind.
“Ai Weiwei — Evidence” will be on display at Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin through July 7.
LONDON — The National Gallery has mounted a supreme exercise in artistic compare-and-contrast. Side by side, in a room of their own, hang two of the seven paintings of “Sunflowers” by Vincent van Gogh: the National Gallery’s own great painting from August, 1888 and a copy of the same composition from some months later on loan from the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (through April 27, in Room 46).
How much can you learn from two versions of the same work, even if they are by a great artist? The answer is: a lot, especially from the way that Van Gogh did not (or maybe could not) repeat himself. These “Sunflowers” are surprisingly different.
The earlier of the two was one of four canvases completed in just six days, between August 21 and 26, 1888, which culminated in this picture with its symphonic variations of yellow on yellow. The idea of building a whole painting, like this, in a single color key shocked and startled Van Gogh’s contemporaries.
The replica was painted either a few weeks before or after Van Gogh’s mental crisis and ear-cutting episode on December 23, 1888 (there is some scholarly dispute on the point), probably as a gift for Gauguin. But the crucial point about this picture is not psychological but horticultural. Sunflowers do not bloom in winter. Therefore this painting was done not in front of a real bouquet, but from the other canvas.
When you look from one to the other, you can see that in the Amsterdam picture, Vincent was playing around even more freely with color itself. The wall behind the flowers is a brighter yellow, as are the blooms themselves. Van Gogh has given the flowers botanically-fictional green centers, a contrasting color-chord that pops and fizzles.
In comparison, the earlier picture, audacious though it is, is clearly based on reality. Of course, there’s no need to choose, but for me the National Gallery picture — though more subdued, more ochre and less chrome, with a paler yellow background — is more powerful. Van Gogh was almost always at his greatest when working from life.
The call came from Tuscaloosa, and it was quite memorable. Our ivory-collecting client, Horton, had heard that a small museum with a colossal netsuke collection might be going broke. He wanted to swoop in and snap up the collection immediately—for peanuts.
Horton flew to New York and appeared in our office the next day with a trunk full of documents and a load of questions on laws concerning deaccessioning. His first query: Are museums legally permitted to sell their works to private collectors?
Yes, we told him, as long as the original donors didn’t put restrictions on the sale of the objects in the deeds of gift or related documents.
While donors frequently seek such stipulations to assure that their treasures won’t be off-loaded to parts unknown, some museums won’t accept gifts that come with restrictions. We recommend to our donor clients that they negotiate a three-year stay on any deaccession in writing. (Under the Internal Revenue Code the sale of a donated work within this period could have negative tax implications for the original donor, because the museum could be viewed as putting the donation to a use that is unrelated to its exempt purpose.)
“I already checked, and there are no restrictions on the ivory collection!” Horton trumpeted.
His next question: Could the museum use the proceeds from the ivory sale to pay its debts—or its lighting and maintenance bills? He was familiar with the recent brouhaha in Detroit, where there was speculation that the Institute of Arts might be compelled to sell from its collection, reportedly valued at more than $2 billion, to help offset the bankrupt city’s debt, estimated to be as much as $20 billion. Horton’s instincts were sound. The use of such proceeds for operating expenses might be legal, we explained, but under accepted museum guidelines, it wouldn’t be ethical. The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) require that their member institutions use any funds from the sale of deaccessioned works for acquisitions. The penalties are no joke. The National Academy Museum in New York was censured and sanctioned in 2008 by the AAMD after using proceeds from the sale of two Hudson River School paintings for operating expenses. Carmine Branagan, the museum’s director, notes that the sanctions affected the museum’s ability to secure loans for exhibitions as well as funding until they were lifted in 2010. Moreover, the state attorney general—who oversees all nonprofits in New York— could also sue the museum for breaching its fiduciary duties if it acted improperly.
There is very little established case law in this area. However, we believe the court would likely consider the museum’s decision-making process and its need for, and use of, the funds before ruling against the institution.
Horton was now wondering whether he gave a hoot about the potential ivory deal, but he still had a few more questions. “The museum might want to use the sale proceeds to satisfy its bond requirements. Would that violate the ethics rules?”
Our considered response: definitely yes—or maybe no. The AAMD guidelines issued in 2007 state that proceeds from a deaccessioned work are never to be used to build a general endowment. On the other hand, in 2009 the Montclair Art Museum in New Jersey, an AAMD member, put up more than 50 pieces at Christie’s, including a 1951 Jackson Pollock drawing. Technically the museum adhered to the ethical guidelines by agreeing to use the proceeds to buy art. But it later turned out that the works were actually being sold to satisfy the museum’s bond covenant, which required it to retain a certain amount in its endowment. The proceeds conveniently kept the endowment fund at the necessary level. No sanctions were imposed.
Horton mentioned that the museum in question is located in New York. That might be a mammoth problem, we said, because New York happens to be the only state to have a statewide deaccessioning policy set by the Board of Regents, which oversees most museums in the state that were established after 1889.
The rules, which went into effect on June 8, 2011, clearly state that proceeds from deaccessions may not be used to pay operating expenses and may be used only for “the acquisition of collections, or the preservation, conservation, or direct care of collections.” Not only are the New York standards stricter than those imposed by the AAM and AAMD, but they are also legal requirements, as opposed to merely ethical guidelines. Museums in New York that fail to adhere to the rules could lose their charter.
“Babaric,” muttered Horton. Next question: Would there be any issue if the museum accepted Horton’s quiet, lowball offer?
Perhaps, we said, since that might call into question whether the museum’s trustees were fulfilling their fiduciary obligation to realize the best price for the art. Consequently, museums generally prefer to deaccession objects at public auction to avoid charges of possible impropriety—and negative press. However, they are not obligated to sell at auction. The AAMD suggests selling “through publicly advertised auction, sale to, or exchange with another public institution, and sale or exchange to a reputable, established dealer.”
Horton next confessed that the reason he even knew about the museum’s financial difficulties was that his wife was a trustee there. Yikes! We advised him that trustees must act with total loyalty to the institution. At a minimum, his wife would have to recuse herself from any discussion or vote on a deaccession involving Horton. Otherwise, he would be buying a lawsuit, not a collection of ivory.
“Could the museum sell through a dealer, who, in turn, could sell to my wife?” Horton asked.
We thought this could still create the impression of a conflict of interest and raise concerns about whether Horton or his wife was working with insider information regarding the museum’s decision to sell the pieces, as well as the asking price. The code of ethics of the International Council of Museums warns that “no person involved in the policy or management of the museum, such as a trustee... may take advantage of privileged information received because of his or her position.”
Even a whiff of impropriety can be a big problem. S.I. Newhouse Jr., for instance, stunned the art world in 2000 by resigning as a trustee of the Museum of Modern Art after nearly three decades on the board when questions arose concerning his quiet, $10 million purchase of Picasso’s Man with a Guitar, 1913. The work had recently been deaccessioned by MoMA, and Newhouse had reportedly bought it through dealer Larry Gagosian.
Although museum guidelines lack the force of law, the last thing any trustee wants to be accused of during a board meeting is a possible breach of ethics—and the last thing any museum director wants is to read about his institution’s questionable dealings in Art+Auction. Let’s not forget that, when it comes to deaccessioning, those are the real elephants in the room.
Some facts have been altered for reasons of client confidentiality or, in some cases, created out of whole cloth. Nothing in this article is intended to provide specific legal advice.
This column originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Art+Auction.
Name: Frédéric Nauczyciel
Your new show at Julie Meneret Contemporary Art, “The Fire Flies [Baltimore / Paris],” looks at voguing, especially with the House of Revlon in Baltimore. Did your art come out of an interest in voguing or were you already an artist when you got into ballroom culture?
It’s not about voguing; it’s more with voguers. I’m more working with the people themselves. It all started when I met Marquis Revlon and Dale Blackheart in Baltimore. I was actually trying to go to the States and I went to Baltimore because of the Omar character from “The Wire.” I was trying to find keys to understand why in France it is so difficult to talk about gender and minorities. So we began work in the studio with Marquis Revlon and Dale Blackheart and some others. It was important for me to bring them in a studio, for them to understand that I was not just doing a “Paris is Burning” documentary.
And then, I was doing all these little iPhone movies and suddenly I realized I could be doing something out of it. My first thing was to keep in mind not to film what seemed interesting and not to make things exotic. It was very important for me not to make all these voguing scenes and these people from Baltimore exotic. That was the first mark of respect. The second mark of respect was also not to document their lives but to create fictions together. I was telling them that we shouldn’t give everything to everybody. Like, you see “Paris is Burning” and you think you know everything about voguing and I think that’s not fair. If people really want to know what voguing is like in Baltimore they should come to Baltimore and go to the ghettos and have the guts to discover this culture.
Your new show also looks at voguers in Paris. In what ways is Paris ballroom culture different from Baltimore?
The first difference is that the Paris scene is very young. It’s like a few years compared to the States, where it has existed since the ’50s or the ’60s. I’m still not working on voguing in Paris and this is sometimes a misunderstanding that I try to avoid. I am trying to understand what the French culture could bring to voguing, because voguing has this quality of taking influences. When I arrived in Baltimore in May 2011, there was “Black Swan” with Natalie Portman on the screens. And all the ball was about “Black Swan.” They take influences from everywhere. That is why I am trying to bring other influences into the voguing, especially coming to France.
Since France is so much about the court, so much about the Louis XIV, so much about center and periphery that I had this idea about dealing with Baroque music and French Baroque dance because the French Baroque dance is also an expression of the white power. Historically speaking, Baroque dance was a popular dance. It became more minimal, more savant. And it began to be at the court, but it comes from a very popular background. And even in the courts, people who were not from the court — they were dancers, could attend a Baroque ball if they were good enough. I think voguing since the ’60s is codifying, getting more and more complicated, more and more codified and it’s, for me, there is something very Baroque in it: all the outfits, the gender questions, the fact that femininity is endorsed by men. And through Baroque I also can work with the Paris voguers on the idea that they are not American, but that they are French.
Not only French but they are also French from the Caribbean. Very few of them are French-African, most of them are French-Caribbeans. This means a story that is very parallel to the African-American in the States because they are actually all French for a long time ago but still black and still not considered fully part of the politics and society of France. So I try to bring all this French-Caribbean culture mixing with the art of voguing.
This is your first solo show in New York? How does that feel?
I am super excited. It’s crazy because everything began in New York for me. The American culture is really my childhood. You know, “New York, New York” the musical and “I want to be a part of it,” blah blah blah, stuff like that. It is super important for me but I never realized that I would one day exhibit something in New York. Never occurred to me. And I have been working for 10 years with an American choreographer from the House of Modern Dance, he was very close to Robert Wilson. So Andy Degroat is really my mentor. I didn’t study in art school. I learned everything I know working with Andy as an illustrator and personal assistant.
So going to New York was super important for me of course. And when I was working for Andy as an administrator I went to New York and I saw, in MoMA, the first film that MoMA acquired from Steve McQueen. It was such a huge breakthrough for me that three or four years later I dropped everything to begin work of my own. So Steve McQueen was the origin of it — it was in New York at MoMA. So coming to New York and having this show is super exciting for me.
What is working in Paris like?
Paris in the ’80s was heaven on earth. It was not racist, it was post-gender, it was the place that every artist in the world would go to if they were suffering of anything in their own country. I don’t know what happened after the ’80s, but it became so conservative. That’s why I am working on these issues because I need my work to be more and more political because Europe is getting very old — and we need to go further and trust youth and trust the future. That’s why I am also working on these questions.
What’s the last show that you saw?
The last show I saw was Pierre Huyghe, the French artist, at the Centre Pompidou, which was really a great show because it was maybe like 20 or 30 of his pieces that he brought together in some kind of an exhibition that is so non-conventional and has so many layers and levels of understandings that it was one of the most popular exhibitions in Paris in a long time. You could see children from age 5 to people of 75. You could see a lot of very different people, not only people comfortable with museums and the arts. And yet, his work is very conceptual and very minimal. For me it was beautiful to see that.
Describe a typical day in your life as an artist.
It changes all the time. It is super weird right now, because since beginning of the year I woke up every morning at exactly 7:50. Don’t ask me why. I don’t go to the workshop before what I call “the workshop before 11.” So all the time before 11 is for me not to be lost in emails. I hate emails more and more. Morning is the best time when your mind is very clear. That is the moment when I watch a movie or get inspiration doing research, stuff like that. And then I work after 11. I am trying to resist production and emails and to get into the real work. I don’t go out so much. I don’t go much to openings. When I see a show, I don’t go to an opening, because I really want to see the show. I am going a lot to movies. My first inspiration is cinema because I was living in the suburbs. I couldn’t go out and I was not in Paris so Saturday night when I was 13 or 14, it was movies and television. And my first window on art was really through cinema.
What is the best movie you’ve seen lately?
“12 Years a Slave.” I think it is beautiful and beautifully done. The idea of showing the story of a man who was not a slave and became a slave for 12 years is super interesting because it can tell people that from one day to another you can lose your freedom. It’s more about that.
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
It’s my window.
Do you collect anything?
The only thing that I collect as art is drawings, actually. But I don’t collect, I’m not a collector at all. I am more into encounters with people than objects and having my stuff. It came from when I decided to be an artist, I had to give up on my flat and for two or three years, I did not have a flat. I learned how to be very light and not have anything with me. So when I came back to having a flat and having a studio, I decided I would not collect things.
What is your karaoke song?
“I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself” by Dusty Springfield. It’s a very good karaoke song.
What artwork would you like to own?
I would like to purchase the work of a Belgian artist called Arie Mandelbaum. It is absolutely beautiful. He is 75 years old and he is doing drawings and paintings. I was really astonished when I saw the first one. He deals a lot with questions of Shoah for example, which is very close to my own family history. And the next work I’m going to do also is how my family deals with the memory of the Shoah. So I really want to buy a piece of Arie Mandelbaum.
What’s the first artwork you ever sold?
It was a photograph. It’s very interesting because it was bought by a foundation in Paris but anonymously by someone I don’t know. It is a photograph that I did in Istanbul. It is a tribute to Edward Hopper. It was the first silver chrome that I printed and it’s been bought by the Cannes Foundation in 2005 and I don’t know for whom.
What’s the weirdest thing you ever saw happen in a museum or gallery?
I loved the performance of an Italian living in Paris — Alberto Sorbelli. He is doing a lot of performances and he was prostituting himself in front of the Louvre as an art piece. And he was proposing his services to the public of the museum. And it was in the same room as the “La Joconde,” I think.
What’s your favorite post-gallery watering hole or restaurant?
In Paris, what I like to do is go to Le Marais in the older, Jewish neighborhood — which is also the neighborhood for the galleries now — to have a falafel in the street. In spring and summer you sit on the stairs of a church and eat your sandwich and talk to people.
What’s the last great book you read?
There are several of them, but of course the book by Georges Didi-Huberman, “The Survival of the Fireflies.” I brought it with me when I went to Baltimore. It is actually exactly what I was doing in Baltimore with the voguers. Fireflies means the culture of resistance against the mainstream culture. It’s the little faint light of fireflies against a tremendous light of politics, of fascism, of everything like that. So this book is very powerful for me. It led me to take all this subculture in the best way I could. It’s talking also about dance and choreography. He’s a philosopher of the image so he is always dealing with the question of image. So with this work and book, I opened up my practice from photography to video and dance. I consider dance to be creation of images also. It is living images. It is also about always being close to the body and to dance as a political instrument. So the book is very powerful of course.
What international art destination do you most want to visit?
There is one where I want to work, which is South Africa. I really want to work there because I met a lot of South African artists especially in France. The exchanges and the discussions I had with them were so subtle, interesting, deep and funny. I really want to go there also because of the post-apartheid situation of South Africa. I am super interested in how we can deal with this because it is all about reconciliation. And to be honest, I am sometimes not very optimistic about possible reconciliation between Arabic and French, between African-Americans and whites, and stuff like that. I think we should learn from South Africa. I am very interested in working with teenagers in South Africa.
Who’s your favorite living artist?
I told you already I guess. One is Steve McQueen and another one that was important for me from my generation also is Apichatpong Weerasethakul. He is the Thai movie director who is also a visual artist. I think Steve McQueen was the president of the jury at Cannes when Apichatpong Weerasethakul got the golden palm.
What are your hobbies?
I draw as a hobby and I play Go — it’s a Japanese strategy game.
— “Art Everywhere” Hits US: Following last year’s “Art Everywhere” campaign in the UK, five museums across the US — the National Gallery of Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art — are bringing the project stateside. Museum curators have picked 100 artworks that the general public will narrow down to 50 on an online voting platform. Those 50 works will then be on view on up to 50,000 billboards and other public advertisements across the country this summer. [WP]
— NYC’s New Cultural Affairs Commissioner: Mayor Bill de Blasio will appoint Tom Finkelpearl, president and executive director of the Queens Museum, as New York City’s new cultural affairs commissioner today. Finkelpearl’s work for the Queens Museum includes a $68 million renovation aimed at connecting the institution with the neighborhood’s populace, as well as hiring community organizers for local outreach. Now responsible for a $156 million budget, Finkelpearl says, “I have a lot of basic core values that I share with this administration, and it’s an exciting time to join the team.” [NYT]
— Second Claim on Gurlitt’s Matisse: It came as a surprise when, two weeks ago, Cornelius Gurlitt announced he would begin restituting works from his collection. A Henri Matisse painting was to be the first one to be given back to the family of Paul Rosenberg, but now an anonymous party is making a claim on the work. Gurlitt’s lawyer Christopher Edel said the claim must be reviewed, but “there has been absolutely no change to our clearly stated position that the paintings in question will be returned.” [Agence France-Presse]
— Edward Dolman Steps Down: After three years, Qatar Museums Authority executive director Edward Dolman is stepping down, but will remain a member of the international advisory board. [NYT]
— MOCA to Focus on Performance Again: While newly appointed MOCA director Philippe Vergne’s plans for the museum are still in the works, he told the L.A. Times that performance was “essential” to considering the contemporary art world, and MOCA’s Museum Center will be reviving the important 31-year-old performance work “Available Light” next year. [LAT]
— Rare Raphael Copy Surfaces: The University of Granada claims it has an authentic copy of Renaissance painter Raphael’s “Madonna of Foligno,” currently belonging to a private collection in Cordoba. [TAN]
— Scottish artist and musician Alan Davie has died at age 93. [Telegraph]
— Nan Goldin’s latest series of works are portraits of children. [Telegraph]
— Dr. Kevorkian’s paintings are up for sale at a gallery in West Hollywood. [CNN]
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Several large baubles are set to shine at Bonhams' Fine Jewelry sale in London on April 30, with among the star lots a white marquise-cut diamond ring by Piaget. Weighing 8.97 carats, the D-color stone of excellent clarity is being offered at an estimate of US$410,000-$580,000.
Among the colored gems in the sale is a Colombian emerald ring of exceptional color, weighing 10.49 carats, which is estimated to sell for US$250,000-$410,000, while a ring, set with a cushion-shaped Burmese sapphire weighing 22.18 carats, mounted between two demi-lune-shaped diamonds, is offered with estimates of US$290,000–$330,000.
Big stones aside, a rare “Orange Tree” brooch made by Cartier of rock crystal and gems nbsp;in 1914 should bedazzle some collectors. The 100-year-old piece is a stunning instance of early 20th century quality and exquisite craftsmanship by the Parisian house, and is estimated at US$ 25,000-$33,000.
One of only 10 'Democracy Cars' built by BMW in 2004 to commemorate a decade of democracy in South Africa will go under the hammer on April 28 at BonhamsCollector’s Motor Cars and Automobilia Sale at the Royal Air Force Museum in Hendon.
Signed on the interior by South Africa's first fully democratically elected president, Nelson Mandela, the 2004 318i Sports Saloon is estimated at $5,000-$8,300 and is to be sold without reserve.
It is one of 10 special vehicles BMW South Africa built to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Mandela’s election on April 27, 1994. They were all signed by the former president, then exported to Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the UK and the USA, to be auctioned for the benefit of various charities including the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund.
The car being offered at this sale is the UK ‘Democracy Car,’ which previously fetched £38,000 at an auction at Madame Tussaud’s in London in June 2005. The proceeds were at the time split between the Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and the UK children’s charities Norwood and Shine.
The car, a manual transmission model finished in silver with black leather interior, switched hands in 2006. Currently displaying a total of 46,000 miles on the odometer, the car is described as in generally very good condition. It has been maintained by BMW North Oxford and comes with a full service history.
Other interesting highlights in the sale include a 1987 Lamborghini LM 002 '4x4' off-road vehicle — in baby blue — and estimated to sell between $130,000 and $200,000. Never mind its brutal styling, it holds the unofficial title of 'world's fastest off-roader,' according to Bonhams, and the first LM 002 is reputed to have been sold to HRH King Hassan of Morocco. This example (pictured below), one of only 328 LM 002s produced between 1986 and 1992, first belonged to Italian racing driver Mario Ricci.
Meanwhile, a beautiful lot worth watching out for is a 1967 Jaguar E-Type Series 1 4.2-Litre 2+2 Coupé (est. $75,000-110,000). Causing a sensation at the 1961 Geneva Salon with its instantly classic lines and 150mph top speed, this model (pictured below) has a long wheelbase, featuring greater headroom, more luggage space, improved heating/ventilation and the space to accommodate an automatic gearbox.
The organizers of Milan’s annual Internazionale Salone del Mobile (iSaloni) are tapping into what might be the biggest dream of architecture aficionados everywhere: to peek inside the living spaces where renowned architects return after a day of designing all varieties of spaces, residential and otherwise. An exhibition devoted to the interiors inhabited by some of architecture’s most illustrious designers, “Where Architects Live,” opens in conjunction with iSaloni on April 8 at pavilion 9 on the Rho Milan Fairgrounds. The show seeks to represent not only where the architects under consideration live, but also how they live. Staged as part of the largest interior design and furniture fair in the world, “Where Architects Live” emphasizes the proximity of the architecture and design disciplines and explores “the art of living today, with a close look at the people who are changing the face of our cities, the configuration of the global landscape, and the collective imagination,” said iSaloni president Claudio Luti in a press release.
In order to survey and document the personal spaces of the exhibition’s subjects, curator Francesca Molteni and scenographer Davide Pizzigoni visited Zaha Hadid at her apartment in London, Daniel Libeskind in New York, Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas in Paris, David Chipperfield in Berlin, Marcio Kogan of Studio MK27 in Rio de Janeiro, Mario Bellini in Milan, Bijoy Jain of Studio Mumbai in the countryside outside his firm’s namesake city, and this year’s Pritzker winner, Shigeru Ban, in Tokyo. For the show, which runs through April 13, Molteni and Pizzigoni will display photographs of the interiors, video and audio footage of interviews with the architects, and reproductions of furniture in the designers’ homes, in order to recreate specific rooms.
Visitors hoping to understand sources of inspiration for Hadid and her peers will be richly rewarded. A photograph of the Dame’s living room shows a Donald Judd stack sculpture among her own early neo-Suprematist paintings, references that are digested as undulating, geometric forms in Hadid’s current work. Likewise, the Fuksases decorate their apartment on the Place des Vosges in Paris with original Jean Prouve chairs — their professional predilection for clean lines translates into personal preference. Libeskind, meanwhile, decorates with Le Corbusier chairs. Some of the architects designed their own homes from scratch, creating environments that epitomize their aesthetic and programmatic hallmarks. Ban, for example, built his 2007 house in Tokyo’s Hangei Forest district without felling a single tree, and it’s numerous ovoid cutouts serve both to accommodate surrounding foliage and affirm his commitment to sustainable and conscientious architecture. Taken in concert, the homes show the formal differences among the profiled designers, but underscore their shared devotion to the design practice. All the personal rooms are meticulously neat — not a single cushion or throw is out of place — suggesting that these architects spend more time in the office than they do at home.
The architectural profession infamously offers little by way of work/life balance — many designers spend such long days in the studio that the aesthetic organization of space becomes a task unto itself, a compulsion that affects every facet of the architect’s daily life. In other creative professions the old adage that life imitates art might hold true, but existence and practice often become one and the same in architecture. As the interiors of “Where Architects Live” suggest, for the world’s most famous designers, life is architecture.
Name: Lisa Sette
Hails From: Hamden, Connecticut
Presides Over: Lisa Sette Gallery, 4142 North Marshall Way, Scottsdale, Arizona
Gallery’s Specialty: Contemporary art
Artists Shown: Enrique Chagoya, Binh Danh, Angela Ellsworth, Luis González Palma, Siri Devi Khandavilli, Fiona Pardington, Doug and Mike Starn, Julianne Swartz, Jennifer Trask, James Turrell, and others
First Gallery Show: Holly Roberts in 1985
Tell us about your first experiences with art.
It was black-and-white photography that first drew me to visual art. Several images that were seared into my mind early on were James Van Der Zee’s Couple Wearing Raccoon Coats with a Cadillac, 1932; Diane Arbus’s Identical Twins, Roselle, New Jersey, 1967; and a self-portrait by Paul Outerbridge. I remember them from a junior high school photography class. Photography taught me how to see and that art could be simultaneously beautiful, threatening, and precarious.
What prompted you to enter the trade?
I was one of seven roommates in a large house while at Arizona State University, where I was a photography major. None of us had any furniture, and the spacious and funky living room was empty. I thought it would be nice to showcase the work of my fellow art students there. That’s how it started.
How did you decide to open a gallery?
I knew I was a terrible artist and that opening a gallery was a way to remain close to art. In 1985 I opened my first gallery in Tempe, which is a college town with very little interest in art. A year later we moved to Scottsdale, where we have been for nearly 30 years. This summer we are moving to an Al Beadle-designed modernist building in midtown Phoenix.
Describe your local market and what you find interesting about it.
Arizona has a small but serious contemporary collector base, and there are more who have winter homes here. We also enjoy a very supportive local clientele. But I don’t really follow trends. I gravitate toward art that reflects a considered reaction to its context, no matter the medium. For example, Angela Ellsworth, who comes from a prominent Mormon family, creates these seductive “Seer Bonnets” out of pearl-tipped corsage pins. The exterior is pristine and shiny and alluring but the sharp pins stick through the hat form, which make for quite an uncomfortable wear. Her great-great-grandfather had nine plural wives, and the series deals with family history in a culture that is still active in the present day.
What have you found to be the greatest rewards and greatest challenges in running a gallery?
The greatest challenge for most art galleries is money. I’ve intuitively balanced finances and the excitement of exhibiting works that I love. Relationships with artists and clients are my most meaningful reward.
Which fairs do you find the most enjoyable?
Those in which I am not asked, “Did you make all of this?” At AIPAD Photography Show in New York, no one asks that.
What has been your strangest or funniest experience in the art world?
In the late 1980s, I visited James Turrell to collaborate on a project. I had brought my young family, and we planned to camp in the bowl of the Roden Crater—the site of his naked-eye observatory. It was summer and it was rainy. As we began setting up our tents in the afternoon, we noticed bolts of lightning not far from us in the Painted Desert. Turrell gently explained the lightning-attracting nature of the iron-rich crater and suggested we move camp to another location. It was a surreal experience.
If you could own any artwork, price no object, what would it be?
I admit to having a Franz Xaver Messerschmidt obsession, as well as a Countess de Castiglione fascination. Both are so uncannily contemporary. So a lead bust by Messerschmidt or a collection of photographs of the countess.
If you were not an art dealer, what would you be doing?
I can’t not be an art dealer! It is how I interact with and understand the world. There’s still so much to learn and share through the gallery; my work is not done yet.
A version of this article appears in the April 2014 issue of Art+Auction magazine.
One of North Africa’s least travelled regions, Libya’s Western Mountains is an area crying out to be discovered
The Amazigh people are famed throughout Libya and the wider region for their hospitality and culinary specialities. Ftat, a traditional flat bread cooked underground in a wood-fired oven, remains a staple food in the villages, with most modern homes still boasting an outside ftat oven.
Despite some obstacles Amazigh culture is enjoying a resurgence in post-revolution Libya . There is a strong and renewed sense of Amazigh cultural identity after having been harshly surpressed under the previous regime. For the first time in decades the written language is being taught in local schools and Amazigh language radio stations have been set up.
In the centrally located mountain town of Yefren a small traditionally designed boutique-cum-homestay guesthouse is ready for foreign tourists with open arms.
Elsyien House is a quaint family run business, indeed it is the family’s former home. It is located on the outskirts of Yefren, with wide spanning views across the countryside. The attention to detail is immaculate, with traditional crafts and arts in each room. The kitchen, which is brimming with traditional cooking and serving implements, is open for guests to use. Traditional meals are also available as requested.
There are four bedrooms in the main building and a delightful private courtyard. Each bedroom is bespokely designed, complete with traditional clothes hanging on the wall for those who wish to dress up for a unique photo opportunity. Certain rooms have raised sleeping platforms as per the historical traditions of the region.
Each room also has a floor-level cushioned seating area, and adorning the walls are old photos, handmade crafts and pottery. The balance between modern comforts and tradition has been struck perfectly.
There is also a reference to more recent history, one of the rooms has a photo gallery showing the men of the Jebel Nafusa transporting the wounded to the nearest hospital by donkey due to the chronic fuel shortages that became a fact of life during the 2011 revolution.
The pièce de résistance is the additional en suite subterranean cave room with a large function area also available for dinners. The room is immaculately decorated in the same style as the rest of guest house and the strategically placed lighting adds to the ambience. Such troglodyte dwellings were typical of the Jebel Nafusah region and beyond, so the chance to stay in such a wonderfully designed one in Libya is quite exceptional.
One can also dine al fresco in the guesthouse’s garden terrace which looks out onto the countryside surrounding Yefren. In the Spring months the fields blossom with wildflowers and the air of tranquility is heavenly.
Elsyien House, Yefren, Jebel Nafusah, Libya: Standard room 30 LYD per night / Troglodyte room 80 LYD per night
— Hirst Plots Autobiography: Penguin Books has announced that Damien Hirst’s much-anticipated autobiography will be released next fall. Co-written with James Fox, the book will cover the artist’s childhood in Leeds, the period at Goldsmiths College in London, and early major YBA shows. “As well as the well-known arc of the boy from Leeds who took on the art establishment, it will include a barely known first act — a black and hilarious account of Hirst’s youth, growing up in a semi-criminal, often violent milieu, while sharing with his friends an unlikely, but binding passion for art,” said Fox, who also co-wrote Keith Richards’s 2010 memoir. [The Guardian]
— Broads Nab Kusama Infinity Room: The Broad Art Museum has acquired the Yayoi Kusama “Infinity Mirrored Room,” which compelled selfie-takers to line up for eight hours at David Zwirner last fall. The Broads did not disclose how much they paid for the work. “With a piece like this, you also have to consider: Where do people line up to get in? Do we need to do timed tickets, even if they are free? These are things that we are thinking about,” said Joanne Heyler, director of the Broad museum. [NYT]
— Kiev Sculpture Biennial Postponed: The second edition of the Kyiv Sculpture Project, meant to open in May, has been postponed until 2015 due to the continued political tensions in Ukraine. The biennial exhibition, which was slated to be held in Kiev’s botanical garden and whose finalists for the main prize have already been chosen, will be replaced in the interim with “an education project dedicated to public art and the development of urban spaces,” according to organizers. Speaking to the Art Newspaper, Volodymyr Kadygrob, the project’s director, said, “It’s not the right time; the agenda changed dramatically in Kiev,” adding that it “makes it quite difficult to organize an international project on the same level that it was planned.” [TAN]
— Pastor Peddles Fake Hirsts: Miami pastor Kevin Sutherland is being charged with attempted grand larceny for trying to sell five counterfeit works he believed to be created by Damien Hirst through Sotheby’s in New York. [ABC]
— Portugal’s Disputed Mirós Get an Offer: The Portuguese government has received an offer to buy its disputed Miró collection by Rui Costa Reis, an Angolan-born movie financier. [Art Market Monitor]
— Pakistani Artists Target Drone Attacks: A group of art activists inspired by French photographer JR have installed the giant poster of a child orphaned by US drone attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The project, called “#NotABugSplat,” is meant to be seen by future drones flying over the area. [The Guardian]
— Beatrix Ruf has been named the new director of the Stedelijk in Amsterdam. [Art Review]
— Sotheby’s is set to auction off the late Murray Frum’s significant Oceanic art collection in Paris in September. [Art Daily]
— The Getty Museum is returning an illegally removed 12th-century illuminated manuscript to a Greek monastery. [LAT]
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