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    Cities Vie For Obama Museum, Terry Richardson's Sext Scandal, and More

    — Cities Vie For Presidential Museum: Chicago, Honolulu, and New York City are already competing to house President Barack Obama’s presidential library and museum, even though he still has two years left in office. Officials from Chicago held a public hearing on Tuesday about Illinois’s potential contributions to the museum, approving a plan for $100 million in state funds for the museum’s construction. “The state of Illinois will spend over $1 billion in construction this year alone, so $100 million is not out of line,” Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan said at the hearing. “It’s clearly a good investment for the future.” [WP]

    — Terry Richardson’s Sext Scandal: Photographer Terry Richardson is once again under scrutiny for questionable behavior with his subjects after model Emma Appleton tweeted a screenshot of a text she allegedly received from the photographer. The message sent from a “Terry Richardson” offers to include Appleton in an upcoming Vogue shoot in exchange for sex. Richardson says the text is a fake. [WP]

    — Warhol Museum to Rehang Collection: To celebrate its 20th anniversary, Pittsburgh museum The Warhol will rehang its collection of Andy Warhol’s work and ephemera for the first time since it opened in 1994. The new installation will be chronologically organized across five floors, featuring masterpieces, archival material, and installations such as “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable” (an interpretation of his seminal media performance) and “The Office” (an examination of his studio). “It is, of course, impossible to reduce Warhol to a single overarching narrative and the rehang reflects this by emphasizing the artist’s multiplicity and the extraordinary diversity of his output,” said Nicholas Chambers, the museum’s Milton Fine Curator of Art. [Press Release]

    — Storm Troopers Rally for Lucas Museum: A Chicago-based Star Wars club will attend the city’s hearing about bringing George Lucas’s museum to the city — in full storm trooper costumes. [Chicago Tribune]

    — Meet Cornelia Gurlitt: Turns out art hoarder Cornelius Gurlitt’s aunt, Cornelia Gurlitt, was a Dresden-based artist who killed herself in her 20s. [NYT]

    — Liverpool Center Staffs Museum with Volunteers: The Foundation for Art and Creative Technology in Liverpool has laid off paid staff and replaced them with volunteers. [TAN]

    — Carl Glassman reports that the iconic New York art supply store Pearl Paint has closed. [Tribeca Trib]

    — The Toronto edition of the Affordable Art Fair just opened with a new name, Love Art. [NYT]

    — Artist Robert Olsen has died at age 44 in his parents’ house in Citrus Heights, California. [Artforum]

    ALSO ON ARTINFO

    “She Takes No Prisoners”: At 75, Judy Chicago is Still Making Waves

    Take a Seat in Chelsea: Artists Dabble in Furniture Design

    YBCA Awards Residency to Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman

    VIDEO: American Video Artist Takes Over Grand Palais in Paris

    Check our blog IN THE AIR for breaking news throughout the day.

    President Barack Obama speaking at the Community College of Allegheny County

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  • 04/25/14--09:16: Seoul
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    Watch ARTINFO video 60 Works in 60 Second, Paris Photo Los Angeles, HERE. 

    LOS ANGELES — Thursday’s VIP opening of Paris Photo drew the kind of star power one expects at an LA art fair, with cameo appearances by Jodie Foster, Brad Pitt, Jamie Lee Curtis, Joni Mitchell, and Cherry Vanilla. More important to exhibitors, however, the extended six-hour “preview” viewing drew solid, though not blockbuster, sales from the less-recognizable crowd that remained steady through most of the afternoon until a surge came at 7 p.m. that kept the Paramount Studios venue humming even after the fair’s scheduled 9 p.m. closing.

    In fact, the mood among dealers was consistently upbeat, with most reporting “decent” to “strong” sales by end of day as well as confidence that holds would convert to transactions over the course of the fair. A half-dozen dealers mentioned a notably deliberate approach among attendees, but opinion was split as to whether that was a characteristic of Angelenos or photography collectors generally. Director David Peckman of London’s Hamiltons Gallery (which competed for best decorated booth with its homey, wood-paneled display space) took a long view, shared by several other exhibitors, remarking that “dealers have to invest in fairs, just as fairs invest in expanding to new cities.”

    Because of the dispersal of the 70-some exhibitors across storefronts in the New York City-themed backlot, as well as three soundstages, determining who could claim to have staked out the prime position was difficult, but Gagosian had a predictably imposing booth. By midafternoon the gallery had sold a mural-size Thomas Ruff photogram in the high five figures and several Ed Ruscha prints from his “Standard Stations” and “Apartment Buildings” series, priced at under $10,000 in an edition of eight. Other artists on show included Taryn Simon, Robert Rauschenberg, and Dennis Hopper. “We wanted works that are approachable to younger collectors,” said Dean Anes.

    There was no consensus on the right approach among the exhibitors, however. Thirty-one opted for solo presentations. Among them, Thomas Zander of Cologne featured Candida Höfer — including a series of not-for-sale pictures of On Kawara’s “Today” series in collector’s homes that have only previously been shown in museums — because he wanted to display work less familiar to an American audience and present a German. Around the corner, Robert Morat of Hamburg chose to highlight war-zone photographer Christopher Anderson’s pictures of his family, in part because he is American. Both conceptual and straight photography as well as abstract and documentary work are well represented. Only vintage silver gelatin prints seem in short supply.

    The fair provided a rebranding opportunity for Thomas Von Lintel, the veteran New York dealer who relocated to Los Angeles just this season. “I can get three times the space for 20 percent less rent,” he explained of the decision, “but more importantly, in New York it is getting more difficult to take chances. I saw a vibrant art community here.” That community favored its own on opening day with purchases of three photograms by Farrah Karapetian ($5,500-$18,000), a young local who curated Von Lintel’s debut West Coast show.

    Broadly speaking, Los Angeles galleries did well presenting the work of young, even highly experimental artists. M+B reported some of the first sales of the day, with Mariah Robertson’s seductive, vibrant abstractions finding takers in both a large size ($12,000) and a jumbo, nearly eight-foot-square mural size ($25,000). By the end of the day, Cherry and Martin reported multiple sales from their solo booth presenting Brian Bress, which featured both photos ($2,500) and videos ($14,000) that mix elements of collage and performance to explore two-dimensional pictorial space. “He treats photos as very material things to be manipulated,” said Philip Martin. “And they are very accessible for people who are intimidated by video.”

    At Luis de Jesus, based in Culver City, 10 or so images by Zachary Drucker and Rhys Ernst of Whitney Biennial fame were drawing inquires, but by early evening the gallery had already sold two large prints (priced in the high four figures) by Chris Engman, whose show of conceptual works exploring the nature of photography runs at the gallery’s Culver City space through May 10. And by the end of the day, a Los Angeles collector had bought two haunting works ($18,500) from the “Erased Lynching” series by local Ken Gonzales-Day. Santa Monica’s Gallery Luisotti found success with the pictures of vandalized homes ($10,000 in 24-by-28-inch prints in an edition of five) by longtime Los Angeles artist John Divola, who was on hand Thursday for a book signing with Distributed Art Publishers.

    But familiar names found takers as well. Darius Himes reported “a group of strong sales spread out over the course of the day” from Fraenkel’s booth, which was dominated by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Richard Learoyd, and Lee Friedlander. To celebrate David Bailey’s show at London’s National Portrait Gallery, Daniel Blau of London and Munich put together a display here of never before seen darkroom experiments by the master of London cool. These test prints showing excerpted sections from often well-known images — including shots of the Rolling Stones as well as mostly anonymous subjects from India, Burma, and London’s East End — are torn along one or more edges and have a sculptural quality. While a few of his best known images were available in large-format platinum prints priced at between $40,000 and $150,000, these unique works seemed a steal at just $2,800 each. They were already “going quickly,” and the director predicted the remainder of the small format works would “definitely sell out” during the fair. Most obviously pandering to the business of Hollywood, Taschen used the occasion of the fair for the stateside debut of the print that accompanies its special “art edition” of Annie Leibovitz’s Sumo book. Priced at $5,000, or just $2,500 without the print, the publisher said he sold “more than dozens” of copies.

    Team Gallery’s José Freire complimented the fair’s organization and operation — which only drew complaints from others about its high costs — and went so far as to say, “I have enjoyed giving these people my money.” The burden was undoubtedly lightened by the knowledge that by midafternoon he had he had sold a Cory Arcangel “Gradiant” and a Ryan McGinley portrait of one of his young friends, both in the middle five figure range. Moreover, he felt he had two strong contenders for a unique grid of 48 McGinley headshots, priced at $115,000.

    Another New York space, Danziger Gallery, presented an eclectic booth and sales ranged from Chritopher Bucklow silhouettes ($20,000-30,000) to Corinne Vionnet’s digital composites of hundreds of images of famous tourist locales (bought to be shown in grids in the small size for $6,500 and in the large size $12,500) to Karen Knorr’s surrealistic images of animals in Indian interiors (sold in both small format for $15,000 and large format for $28,000).

    Because of the show’s emphasis on contemporary artists rather than modern masters of the medium, there was less repetition across booths than is seen at some photography fairs. But Knorr’s images were on view at Tasveer Gallery of Bengelore and New Delhi, where a new portfolio, titled “India Song III,” of 10 16-by-20-inch prints in an edition of five, drew four serious inquiries by end of day. The first two “India Song” portfolios sold out, and this one debuts here for $18,000. Tasveer’s only sales the first day were of several romanticized works in Indian landscapes by Norman Parkinson, estate prints of images made in the 1950s in edition of 12, priced from $3,500 to $5,200.

    Parkinson notwithstanding, even among the more recheché international offerings, contemporary artists had broad appeal. Magnin A gallery of Paris, which specializes in work by African photographers, reported strong sales not only for the master Malick Sidibe, but also for several younger artists, including Dakar-based Omar Victor Diop (whose portraits are priced depending on size from €750 to €3,000) and Filipe Branquinho of Mozambique, making his US debut with prints priced at $3,450.

    Even those dealers who had not yet closed a deal claimed to be satisfied with the depth of the interest from both institutions and collectors. Bryce Wolkowitz and Howard Greenberg, who teamed up to present a dozen mural-size prints from Edward Burtynski’s new “Water” series ($22,000-$50,000), reported a handful of strong holds at the end of the first day as well as meetings with several new collectors. Tyler Rollins of New York, who brought a solo presentation of work by Tracey Moffatt in three series priced form $8,000 to $10,000, noted visits from several museum groups, and said that given he already had a base of LA collectors, he came to “demonstrate a commitment to the city.”

    Solid Early Sales at Paris Photo Los Angeles
    Christopher Anderson's "Untitled" from the series "Son," $2,500.

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    After the rousing success of last year’s inaugural Los Angeles edition of Paris Photo, the programming for its second year, opening April 25, is more ambitious, expansive, and exciting than ever — especially its solo section. Held once again at Paramount Pictures Studios and backlot, the fair boasts some 70 exhibiting galleries from 18 countries, and 31 solo shows featuring both emerging and established artists.

    The fair’s selection committee organized the solo section’s refined grouping of booths, which includes work from newcomers like Abigail Reynolds, Brian Bress, and Christina De Middel, along with recognizable figures like Stephen Shore, Edward Burtynsky, and William Eggleston.

    Julien Frydman, the fair’s director, explained how the unique Hollywood setting for Paris Photo was complimentary to some artists’ work, and a source of inspiration for others. “Some artists certainly do visit the space in advance and have a vision of how the work should be presented,” he said. “Some exhibitors are presenting very unique installations where the space is an integral part of the presentation, such as Cherry and Martin’s stand in the New York Street backlot, or M+B and François Ghebaly. One of the interesting qualities of the backlot is actually seeing how exhibitors and artists work not only within, but with each of these unique spaces.”

    With some artists looking to incorporate the filmic location into their presentations, and others premiering imagery from worlds away, here are five artists to look out for while exploring the fair’s single artist exhibitions.

    Uta Barth

    The formally impressive and aesthetically delicate work of Uta Barth, a Los Angeles-based German artist, will be presented by 1301PE Gallery. Her highly technical process captures the after images of objects, limbs, and movement, creating alluring textures and volume within the frame.

    Brian Bress

    The show runner for Cherry and Martin’s booth, Bress created one of the more site appropriate exhibitions. His photography and film work continually bleed between mediums, defying categorization and testing the limits for an otherwise straight and traditionally clean art form. The gallery released a statement noting, “Brian Bress engages the idea of artifice within the context of the ultimate artifice: Paramount Studios’s New York backlot.” It added, “Illusionistic, collaged scenic backdrops set the stage for Bress’s new time-based monitor works and photographs.”

    Abigail Reynolds

    The works on Reynolds’s website, and presented by Ambach and Rice at the fair, are divided between collage, sculpture, and performance — so why is she front and center at a photo fair? The Londoner’s use of appropriated photographic imagery from old books cut and overlaid atop each other produce architectural re-imaginings of iconic buildings and cityscapes. Reynolds connects images through time and space, repositioning them with prominent seams in composite works.

    Mariah Robertson

    Robertson’s work was recently included in the International Center of Photography’s much talked about “What is a Photograph?” exhibition, and appropriately so; her arresting numbered works are explosions of color and light, and they scientifically delve into the art form. Her work, an “investigation into the indexical parameters of photography,” according to Frydman, will be shown by M+B Gallery — it’s not to be missed. 

    Stephen Shore

    Last but not least, the venerable master photographer will be showcasing his most recent body of work, “Winslow, Arizona,” with 303 Gallery. The big skies, desert dust, and relics of a past era were completed as part of Doug Aitken’s “Station to Station” project. In the series, Shore marries the contemporary with vintage and the inhabited with the desolate, capturing a part of America still very much alive. 

    5 Artists to Watch at Paris Photo LA’s Solo Booths
    Uta Barth's "Deep Blue Day" (2012) at Paris Photo LA

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    Paris Photo Los Angeles 2014 kicks off with more than 80 leading galleries and art dealers from 18 countries at the famed Paramount Pictures Studios. Among the highlights this year are young artists such as Abigail Reynolds, whose collages of old books are exhibited by Ambach & Rice, and Brian Bress' wall-mounted HD monitors featuring digital loops of the artist and actors at Cherry & Martin. Discover more groundbreaking works from the second LA edition of the photography fair in our popular series, 60 Works In 60 Seconds.

    Read ARTINFO sales report from Paris Photo LA 2014, HERE. 

    Paris Photo Los Angeles 2014 is open to the public through April 27 at Paramount Pictures Studios, 5555 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles.

    Watch previous videos from 60 Works in 60 Seconds, HERE.

    VIDEO: 60 Works In 60 Seconds, Paris Photo LA 2014
    Paris Photo LA 2014

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    Blouin Lifestyle Pick: 5 New Champagne Boxes
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    Maison Piper-Heidsieck's new "real' box.
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    Maison Piper-Heidsieck

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  • 04/27/14--18:36: BMW Art Car Collection Book
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  • 04/27/14--23:35: New York
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    At 86, Wolf Kahn is still a firecracker. The painter — who has spent the majority of his life in New York, and who is known for vibrantly colored landscapes and nature scenes — is the subject of a six-decade retrospective on view at Ameringer McEnery Yohe through May 31. “The earlier the painting is, the better it seems to me to be,” Kahn deadpanned, thinking back to some of the canvases he produced in the early ’60s. “I think I’ve gone downhill ever since.” On a more serious note, he’s proud of himself for not resting on his laurels: “Here I am, still trying to do things that I don’t know how to do, strike out in new directions. I think that’s very healthy, and I consider myself fortunate.”

    Kahn’s studio for the past two decades or so has been in Chelsea; before that he had a space for nearly 40 years on Broadway, across the street from the Strand bookstore. As an artist starting out and polishing his chops, he moved within a varied circle — Allan Kaprow was a high school friend, and he knew de Kooning and other Ab-Ex heavy-hitters. “As a young man and a student you try to take up the whole atmosphere that’s around you,” he said. Kahn studied at the New School with various people, including the painter Stuart Davis, who he called “one of the world’s worst teachers.” (“He was already a famous artist who taught one night a week; he had his followers who came regularly, and they were interested not in art so much as in jazz and baseball.”) Kahn had better luck as an acolyte of abstract painter Hans Hofmann, who later employed him as a studio assistant. “I looked at Hofmann and through him I looked at the German Expressionists and the American Abstract Expressionists, many of whom were personal friends,” Kahn said. “I was still a young painter getting some attention, while these guys were already enthroned.”

    Hofmann is an artist of color alliances, so it’s not surprising that Kahn became entranced with similar possibilities. “He said, ‘Every young artist paints whatever he thinks is most important in art.’ For me it was always color. It seemed to me to be the one thing which you didn’t have to look at anywhere else — except in your paint tubes — in order to deal with it.” Before setting his eye squarely on the natural world, Kahn experimented with portraiture — capturing his wife in a 1956 painting, “Late Afternoon” (which he categories as employing a few “Bonnard-y” effects), and a rich, dense self-portrait from 1954. “At a certain point, I found out I didn’t know what the figure should be doing and where it should be placed,” Kahn said. “So I painted it out. That gave me a lot more freedom.”

    Even though Kahn has been working within a fairly narrow choice of subject matter — forests, trees, barns, lakes, fields, skies — he seems to think that this is the least important part of the picture, or at least secondary to color. And there’s variation within these confines: some paintings are alive with a sort of internal fire, all rich pinks and oranges; others are murkier, abstract planes. Occasionally Kahn breaks up land, trees, and sky into Rothko-esque blocks of color. The artist veers between fairly naturalistic paintings and ones that take extravagant liberties with landscape. “I like to paint artificial colors that look like they’re out of nature,” he said. “I don’t care whether they could be or not, I like the feeling that you have a sense that you’ve been there.” There’s a wide range of work in the exhibition at Ameringer McEnery Yohe, from the almost veiled, gnarly surface of “Trees Absorbing Light,” 1961, to the playful vibrancy of “Hot Summer,” 1990, with its clementine sky and purplish lake water. The large painting “Deer Isle-Fog Closing In,” 1968, gives the viewer a palpable sense of light, dislocation, and drift. “Quarter Mile View,” 2014, is almost hallucinatory — the trees appearing to lash out at each other — and the combination of loose marks and slivers of bare canvas show Kahn applying some of the logic of his pastel works to canvas.

    Kahn often paints from memory; occasionally he invents a nature scene out of whole cloth. He’s done pictures of actual locales in Vermont, where he spends his summers, and New York City, and Africa, though his most recent paintings are striving for a kind of geographical indeterminacy. “What I’m trying to do is to make a place that still looks like a landscape and at the same time doesn’t make you think of a particular place,” he said. “It makes you think of a texture, or relation of colors. But I’m not willing to give up the idea that underneath all of that, there’s objects.” Two in-progress works in his studio feature a tangle of trees, with a mere fragment of sky visible above; everything is rendered with a rich gestural immediacy (Kahn paints with both traditional brushes and oil pastel sticks). Another finished work depicts the aftermath of a Vermont storm that left arboreal carnage in its wake, which appealed to the artist. “I have a certain taste for chaos,” he admitted. Later, observing a pink-heavy painting of a forest that he’s recently begun, Kahn offered a self-criticism: “This one is totally unambiguous. I have to really mess that painting up.”

    Kahn’s Chelsea studio is both a time capsule and a sneak peek into some of his personal tastes. Unframed pastels — a significant portion of the over 15,000 artworks he’s made during his lifetime — are stored alongside early drawings of animals, or sketches completed while serving jury duty. Two framed gouache-on-paper works made when he was a teenager attest to a long-ago desire to become a children’s book illustrator; one of them portrays a troop of dwarves climbing the neck of a gigantic giraffe. There are prints by Giorgio Morandi, a drawing by Hofmann, 18th-century illustrations of mushrooms he bought in bulk in France, and a piece by Wayne Thiebaud, who Kahn is a fan of. I asked him if he actively collects the work of his peers. “You constantly have a terrible tendency to wish to generalize things that just happen,” Kahn said, with a bit of sass. “No. I’ve lived for 86 years — stuff happens along the way.”

    Both as a personality and an artist, Kahn is refreshingly forthright, confident in his ambitions and his stalwart corner of the art world. It would be a mistake to dismiss Kahn’s work as ornamental, soft, or decorative — a reading that Kahn himself seems poised to address. “I don’t want to be a pleaser,” he said. “I like to paint pleasant color, easygoing compositions, but not in such a way that people say, ‘Oh, I’ve seen that before, that’s meant to stroke me.’ You have to have an edge.” He admires other painters — like Agnes Martin and Susan Rothenberg — but he doesn’t have much use for the contemporary gallery scene outside his doorstep (“I’m like all old guys — you deplore what goes after. You think it’s a terrible mistake, the fact that history goes on.”). And he offers some advice that, perhaps, might be of value to a younger generation of painters. “In order to make a living as an artist, you’ve got to be one of two things: A very nice guy, or a bad egg.” Personally, Kahn qualifies himself with a rather appropriate metaphor: “I like to think of myself as being a wide spectrum.”

    Wolf Kahn and Six Decades of Color
    Wolf Kahn (with two works-in-progress behind him) photographed in April in his C

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    Johnny Depp to Play Art Dealer, Colosseum Gets $35M Makeover, and More

    — Depp to Play Art Dealer Mortdecai: Johnny Depp is set to play a “roguish art dealer” in the much-anticipated film adaptation of the “Mortdecai” trilogy, which sounds a bit like “Monuments Men” meets “The DaVinci Code.” Alongside Gwyneth Paltrow and Ewan McGregor, Depp will fight to uncover a stolen painting that contains “the code to a lost bank account filled with Nazi gold.” Lionsgate chief executive Jon Feltheimer said that the studio sees Mortdecai as “a franchise-able character in the vein of ‘The Pink Panther.’” [LAT]

    — Colosseum Gets a $35M Makeover: The Colosseum in Rome is six months in to the first full cleaning in its history, a project that costs $35 million. Along with returning the structure’s limestone to its original dark ivory color, restorers are finding other surprises along the way. “When you have the chance to put up scaffolding on an ancient monument and look closely while you’re cleaning, you discover things you would never otherwise see such as frescoes, stucco work, inscriptions, and graffiti,” said Clementina Panella, a professor of Roman archaeology at Rome's La Sapienza university. [WSJ]

    — Online Art Sales Reach $1 Billion: A report published today by the insurance group Hiscoux estimated that the online art market accounted for $1.6 billion of transactions in 2013, and predicts it will reach $3.8 billion by 2018. Online sales still make up for 2.4 percent of the total market, but the figures in Hiscoux reports its figures are likely “conservative” due to unreliable public data. Other findings include 82 percent of buyers noting that physically being able to see the art object is the biggest challenge, and that more than 25 percent of online collectors are under 30. [TAN]

    — Yonkers to Host Arts Weekend: The City of Yonkers is organizing its first Yonkers Art Weekend. A shuttle will take visitors to see the 11th annual YoHo Artists Open Studio, “The Art of Video Games” exhibit at the Hudson River Museum, and paintings from Satish Joshi and Blue Door Gallery at the Riverfront Library. [NYT]

    — Basquiat’s Earliest Collectors Profiled: Early devout collectors and self-described “surrogate parents” to Jean-Michel BasquiatLenore and Herbert Schorr, will be showing some of the drawings they purchased from the artist at Acquavella Galleries in New York. In a profile for Vanity Fair they recalled Basquiat, saying, “Having us drive him was clearly easier for him than his trying to get a taxi, because of the fact that he was black. He used to joke that he needed to get Herb a driver’s cap, and that he’d buy us a hot dog afterwards.” [Vanity Fair]

    — LACMA Acquires 10 New Artworks: LACMA has acquired 10 new pieces for its collection at Saturday night’s gala, the final event for its 29th annual Collectors Committee weekend. New works include an interactive video game installation by Feng Mengbo, a glass work by Roni Horn, and the installation “Helen Pashgian: Light Invisible,” which is currently on view and was bought by trustee Carole Bayer Sager. [LAT]

    — The Louvre is making plans to solve the “bottleneck” problem at its pyramid entrance. [TAN]

    — Charles Lim is set to represent Singapore at next year’s Venice Biennale. [Gallerist]

    — Frederick Janka is leaving the Sculpture Center to become director of development at the MCA Santa Barbara. [Artforum]

    ALSO ON ARTINFO

    Wolf Kahn and Six Decades of Color

    Solid Early Sales at Paris Photo Los Angeles

    5 Artists to Watch at Paris Photo LA’s Solo Booths

    Q&A With The Police’s Andy Summers, Photo Independent’s Honorary Guest

    Review: Eva Hesse and Sol LeWitt at the Blanton Museum of Art

    VIDEO: Masterpieces Abound at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Sale

    Check our blog IN THE AIR for breaking news throughout the day.

    Johnny Depp

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    LOS ANGELES — The opening night festivities of the Los Angeles Modernism Show and Sale were not unusual for a Friday night in LA: Hordes of dapper men and women descended upon the 3Labs event space in Culver City, turning what was meant as a preview benefit into a chiefly social occasion. Though the night’s ticket sales were meant to benefit the local non-profit organization P.S. Arts, guests seemed most interested in each other. “That’s a beautiful dress,” one woman was overheard saying to another. And what about the furniture for sale?

    Some of it was beautiful too, though it felt like a footnote here. Attendees focused instead on an arts-and-crafts table near the entrance set up by P.S. Arts, stocked with collage supplies and California-themed imagery. Guests in gowns later wandered the show’s aisles with art projects in hand.

    Popular, too, was the photo booth and a table overflowing with sweets provided by confectioner Sugared LA. In the midst of all the socializing, the only figures left out were the dealers themselves. Some talked to the occasional booth visitor, fewer still made sales. The pieces of mid-century furniture dotting the sales floor, typically lauded for their functionality, were purely decorative set pieces on opening night.

    LA Modernism Show and Sale Opening Night
    Actors Ava Deluca-Verley (R) and Jenna Elfman attend P.S. ARTS Presents LA Moder

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    Remembering Index Magazine With Peter Halley

    Peter Halley and Bob Nickas published the debut issue of Index in 1996, and continued putting out the magazine until 2006. Index featured a cast of indie culture’s Who’s Who — Harmony Korine, Hedi Slimane, Jena Malone, Scarlett Johansson, Stephen Malkmus — with its covers shot by the likes of Wolfgang Tillmans and Juergen Teller. Its particular slice of history is inventively retold in a new book, “Index A to Z,” which eschews simple chronology in favor of eclectic categories, from Advertising to Zeitgeist (the latter including some classic party shots of Ryan McGinley and infamous literary hoax artist “JT Leroy”). In advance of tonight’s book release party at Karma in New York, we asked Peter Halley his thoughts on print’s future, indie culture, and HBO’s “Girls.” 

    What’s more difficult: making art or making a magazine?

    I never thought of making art as difficult. To me, it’s more like play. It’s about being — as they say — in the zone. It’s called artwork, but it would be better if it were called art play. Making a magazine is definitely more complex. When Andy Warhol said, “Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art,” I didn’t think he was talking about money. I thought he was really talking about how challenging it is to work with other people. People, unlike cadmium red, are different every day. With Index, I was the publisher and the de facto creative director. The challenge was to chart a course among all the great ideas the contributors were bringing to the magazine without imposing my own vision too much.

    If you had to organize an intimate dinner party in 2014 for four or five previous Index cover stars, who might you choose?

    I’ll let you choose between Parker Posey, Juergen Teller, Isabella Rossellini, Amy and David Sedaris, Kathleen Hanna, Scarlett Johansson, Helmut Newton, Udo Kier, Daniel Day-Lewis, Morrissey… and John Waters. That’s what it’s like to run a magazine.

    Do you feel as if Index captured a particular moment in the culture that is now lost, especially in New York? Or is that same independent spirit still alive (and perhaps just hiding behind a luxury condo)?

    In 1996, our model for the magazine was definitely pre-web — even though the website eventually became an integral part of Index. Even then, we were dealing with the transmogrification of capitalism that defines New York today. But Index aspired to cover not just New York, but everything that was going on everywhere. I define “indie” as any project that uses commercial means of distribution, not to make money, but to say something meaningful. I believe that’s still going on all over the world.

    What advice would you offer someone with the crazy idea of starting up a print publication in the 21st century?

    Print is still important. Especially for publications in which photography is crucial, such as art books. I believe that beautifully produced books and magazines will continue to prosper because of their tactile appeal. Successful print publications will tend to be more high-end. At the same time, anyone printing books and magazines needs to use a multi-platform strategy that incorporates the right mix of the web, events, special projects, social media, etc. It’s essential that the strategy be just right for the content.

    What magazines do you personally subscribe to or read regularly?

    Well, I am going to namecheck Modern Painters because its associate editor, Wendy Vogel, did such an amazing job editing this book, “Index A to Z.” If Wendy were around in 2006, Index might still be in print. I also subscribe to all the usual stuff: Vanity Fair, Vogue, W, Flashart, i-D, the Bangor Daily News, and lots of design magazines.

    What’s the last exhibition you saw that really left its mark on you?

    Fortunately, exhibitions don’t usually leave any visible marks on me. But I thought Ann Craven’s exhibition at Maccarone in November was fantastic.

    Index hosted (and still hosts the archive of) “Delusional Downtown Divas,” starring Lena Dunham, along with Joana Avillez and your daughter Isabel. Do you watch “Girls”? If so, which of the four principles — Hannah, Marnie, Shoshanna, or Jessa — is Peter Halley most like?

    I’m 60 years old. It’s really hard to identify with the issues that four 20-somethings are dealing with! But I am definitely a big fan of Lena’s. I first met Lena when she was 3 weeks old. She was on a play date with Isabel.

    Peter Halley with Juergen Teller, photographed in 2000.

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