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    Documentary Attempts to Demystify Sol LeWitt

    In a piece for the New Yorker in 2000, the art critic Peter Schjeldahl asked: “Why does everybody love Sol LeWitt?” It’s a question that’s also at the heart of a new documentary about the artist that’s opening at Film Forum on May 7. LeWitt may be the chilliest member of a group of ice-cold artists associated with the male dominated first wave of minimalism, who rejected strict interpretation of their work and whose contradictions were expertly critiqued in Rachel Kushner’s latest novel, “The Flamethrowers”:

    “Minimalism is a language, and even having gone to art school, I barely spoke it myself,” the main character says of her boyfriend’s work. “I knew the basic idea, that the objects were not meant to refer to anything but what they were, there in the room. Except that this was not really true, because they referred to a discourse […] and if you didn’t know the discourse, you couldn’t take them for what they were, or were meant to be. You were simply confused.”

    In the film, LeWitt himself has much the same feeling: “They’ve referred to me as a minimal artist but no one has ever defined what it means or put any limits to where it began or ended, or what it is and what it isn’t.”

    This impenetrability or confusion makes the prospect of sitting through a documentary about LeWitt’s life a daunting one, especially since even among his peers he was the most protective of his identity. But filmmaker Chris Teerink manages — through a host of intimate conversations with loved ones, collaborators, and the most ardent supporters of his art, interspersed with sequences featuring teams putting together LeWitt’s intricate wall drawings — to bring out the populist elements in his work.

    This dedication of making art for people outside the traditional art world audience, combined with his unsociable personality — he rarely went to openings, for example — is the contradiction that drives through the film and ultimately might be the most interesting thing about LeWitt, or at least what sets him apart from his contemporaries. “You can’t call him a social animal or say he thought in terms of networking,” says Alexander van Grevenstein, former curator at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and current director of the Bonnefanten Museum, at one point in the film. “I think that’s wonderful.”

    The film’s intention to demystify the persona LeWitt has carried with him beyond death results in a largely uncritical portrait. All we see is how generous LeWitt was to his friends, to strangers, to loved ones; how his art was for people, not collectors; and how his perceived attitude was a rejection of the phoniness of the world that surrounded him. And I have no reason to believe this isn’t completely true. But the problem is it smoothens out a crinkly, and more complicated, picture of an artist who was battling with these contradictions in his life and work. We only have one side, one view. It’s the type of piece that LeWitt, who famously published a negative review in the catalogue for his first major show, might have disapproved. 

    A scene from Chris Teerink’s documentary "Sol Lewitt."

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    What's Your Type? A Personality Guide to Frieze Week

    Frieze Week is upon us — exciting, to be sure, but almost monstrous in its complexity, with new satellite fairs joining the crowd every passing year. Even the most refined art lover will admit that the people-watching is as much fun as taking in what’s hanging on the walls of all those booths, and in that spirit, we’ve put together a vastly unscientific guide to the types you might expect to rub elbows with in the crowds.

    Frieze New York: The Cosmopolitan Collector With a Taste For Roberta’s

    Despite the off-the-beaten path location — you have to take a boat to get there! — the now iconic S-shaped tent on Randall’s Island has become a can’t-miss destination (even for those who grumble about how awful fairs are). This year, 190 top international galleries take part in the third New York edition, from Air de Paris to Zwirner. Add special commissions and a panel of talks deftly curated by Cecilia Alemani and Tom Eccles, respectively, and you’ve got an event that aims beyond the oft-derided “shopping mall for art” model.

    NADA New York: The Alternative to the Alternative

    If Frieze itself crashed onto the scene as a hip cousin to the now-fusty Armory Fair, think of NADA as Frieze’s plucky, less market-focused sister. Housed in a converted basketball facility, NADA draws a chicly independent roster, including San Juan’s Roberto Paradise, The Sunday Painter from London, and Knowmoregames (a Brooklyn gallery sited in a far-flung hotspot dubbed the Donut District, due to its proximity to... a Dunkin Donuts). Meanwhile, outside the venue, Shoot The Lobster will further explode the boundaries of the humdrum white-booth exhibition format by presenting works by Ryan Foerster, Denise Kupferschmidt, Eddie Martinez, and others inside of a 1964 Ford Galaxie 500.

    Collective 2 Design Fair: Trust Fund Kid With Impeccable Taste

    Ah, the good life, when you can not only afford the rent on your enormous New York apartment, but you still have cash left over to populate it with sinuous chairs, salacious lamps, and all manner of refined baubles. At Collective 2, even the plebes can wax aspirational, imagining an existence of Sebastian Errazuriz shelves, India Mahdavi tables, and $21,000 gold necklaces by Annelies Planteydt. Browse; gawk; dream a little dream.

    PULSE NY: The Art Student Taking Notes

    This mid-sized fair is undergoing a big overhaul this year under the leadership of its new director, Helen Toomer. New to this year is the POINTS section, devoted to alternative spaces and non-profits, as well as PULSE Play, showcasing video and new media curated by Art21. Trimming the fat and beefing up the accompanying programming, Pulse is aiming to step back into the spotlight after years of sharing the scene during Armory Week.

    Cutlog NY: The Europhile With An E-Cig

    In its second year in the city, the French fair’s exhibitors list leans heavily toward New York locals, but also invites visiting participants from Paris, Amsterdam, Basel, and Kuala Lampur. Located once again in the Neo-Gothic Clemente building on the Lower East Side, Cutlog will capitalize heavily on its European roots while embracing and showing off some up-and-coming New York galleries, like Bleecker Street Arts Club, Judith Charles, and SIGNAL.

    SELECT: The Under-the-Radar Out-of-Towner

    Let’s say the glass is half full: the good thing about a fair in which you’ve never heard of any of the participating exhibitors is that you get to make new discoveries. Pulling in a far-flung assortment of galleries — from Osaka, Japan; Melbourne, Florida; and Steamboat Springs, Colorado, among other locales — SELECT encourages everyone to “alter the existing white booth to appeal to the sensibility of the work being shown,” which might help to alleviate the week’s omnipresent fair fatigue. One likely highlight: A performative, one-day installation-building project by Santa Fe-based collective Meow Wolf.

    VERGE NYC: The Anti-Market Traditionalist

    Verge says that it wants to “recover a space for artistic practice that is artist-centric [and] D.I.Y.,” helping to “return art-making front and center where it belongs.” You’d think a mission statement like that would site the fair in the industrial playground of Bushwick, but instead Verge has set up shop in the flashy bustle of SoHo. A slightly eccentric list of exhibitors features two from New Jersey — including the renowned International Sculpture Center from Hamilton — and a high percentage from New York and Chicago.  

    Outsider Art Fair: That Middle-Aged Man With a Treasure Trove of Drawings Hidden Beneath His Bed

    The way one becomes an artist is pretty pre-determined these days — you spend $150,000 in an M.F.A. program, naturally, and hope for the best. Yet perhaps the art world is finally growing jaded of business-as-usual, because so-called “outsider” art continues to thrive. Big dealers like Marlborough Chelsea, showing Tony Cox, and Hirschl & Adler are setting up shop in Chelsea at Center 548 Modern, and talks spotlighting famous self-taught artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and Henry Darger will be taking place Saturday. Mainstays of the scene (like New York’s Andrew Edlin) are joined by lesser-knowns (Gilley’s Gallery of Baton Rouge).

    Parallax: The Exuberantly Inebriated Philosophy Grad Student

    If Zizek got high and launched an art fair, it might look a lot like this one. Billing itself as “the first non-art fair,” Parallax claims to make a “uniquely refreshing conceptual statement about subjectivity and the commoditization of taste.” (This all begs the question: Is Parallax a non-fair, featuring art? Or a fair, hawking non-art? Or merely an ephemeral quasi-event, blowing in the breeze of postmodernism?) Perhaps a closer look at the press materials-cum-manifesto will help: “Parallax Art Fair recognises no ‘superiority’ or extra-relevance of any form of object making of any kind and questions the ability to determine content in this way — a process that leads to undemocratic structures in the arts. At the edge of the fair’s core is a contradiction: a problem of relativism is absolutism.” Now it all makes sense: Parallax is a showcase of objects which might have no value whatsoever — who can really know, because, like, what is truth, or “value”?!! — though you should definitely buy them with non-theoretical money.  

    Downtown Fair: The Aspirational High-Roller

    Stepping out onto the scene for the first time, the Downtown fair presents a quandary, since it seems to want to be all things to all people: collectors (rich! But also the modest ones!) and artists (new, on-the-cusp talents! But perhaps also some expensive dead ones!). The brainchild of the people behind Art Miami, Aqua, Art Southampton, and others, it has attached itself to Frieze’s flank — Frieze VIPs get in gratis, and there’s a shuttle from the Frieze shuttle dock — though that cross-over appeal seems a bit optimistic.

    Contemporary Art Fair NYC: The No-Nonsense Bargain Hunter

    Rather than branding themselves with some clunky, quirky name (SEE ALSO: Fridge, Pool, Lump, Blargh, Fountain, Squish, et al), these guys cut right to the chase. And not only is the art contemporary, it’s relatively cheap ($100 to $6,000!). There’s also furniture, jewelry, and glass work.

    Fridge Art Fair NYC: The Outer Borough Proselytizer

    The only fair to spotlight Long Island City’s burgeoning art scene, the small, scrappy outer borough defector from Armory Week is only showcasing a curated group of galleries under the banner “Ice Cream Sundae Project.” But what the roster lacks in quantity it makes up for in diversity, sporting talent and representation from Latvia, Austria, Sweden, Cleveland, Honolulu, and Atlanta. While the fair is in Queens, at least you don’t need a boat to get there. And cat-adoption non-profit City Critters, Inc. is a fair sponsor, which is frankly adorable. 

    PooL: Artists Off-the-Grid

    This scrappy hotel fair began in 2000 as the New York Independent Art Fair, and has continued to toot its horn as the go-to fair for unrepresented artists. Frieze may be advertising a hotel experience this year through the restaging of Allen Rupersberg’s 1971 “Al’s Grand Hotel,” but PooL will let anyone explore its rooms without reservation.

    Seven: The Post-Internet New Media Pioneer

    This year’s iteration of the concisely curated “collaborative exhibition,” as organizers bill it, has seven galleries presenting video-based works at The Boiler in Greenpoint. We’re most excited for Melanie Bonajo’s “Pee on Presidents,” an irreverent take on public urination and feminism; Kate Gilmore’s “Love ‘em, Leave ‘em,” 2013, a typically athletic performance-based film that finds the artist surmounting a “a 10-foot tall structure...carrying hundreds of vases and pots filled with paint”; and Rafaël Rozendaal, showing with Postmasters Gallery, whose website-works pleasantly fuzz the boundaries of contemporary art. The whole event doubles as a bittersweet tribute to the late Feature Inc. dealer Hudson, who passed away earlier this year.

    Share your insider pics of #FriezeWeekNYC with us on Twitter

    Frieze Week 2014

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    Mark Ryden Taps Katy Perry, Steve Cohen Gets Art-Backed Loan, and More

    — Ryden Taps Katy Perry: Artist Mark Ryden has asked Katy PerryWeird Al YankovicTyler the Creator, and other musicians to perform a cover of the 1892 song “Daisy Bell (Bicycle Built for Two).” The covers will be released on a 999-run vinyl album that will sell for $99.99. The release of the album is part of Ryden’s current show, “The Gay ’90s,” at LA’s Kohn Gallery. [NYT]

    ​— Steve Cohen Gets Art-Backed Loan: For the first time, Goldman Sachs has given a personal loan to hedge funder and art collector Steve Cohen that is backed by his massive collection. In the past, Cohen has received similar private bank loans from Citigroup Inc.JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Bank of America Corp. The filing does not specify the amount of the loan, but indicates that Cohen has promised “certain items of fine art” as collateral. [Bloomberg]

    — Mike Kelley Homestead Heads to LA: In its first presentation outside Detroit, the late Mike Kelley’s final work, “Mobile Homestead,” will go on view at LA MOCA, coinciding with the artist’s current retrospective at LACMA. The mobile section of the piece, which comes in two parts (a community gallery and the mobile clapboard façade that hosts community programming), will arrive in LA on May 24 and will be featured in the Skid Row parade. Philippe Vergne, MOCA’s newly appointed director, said in statement, “Knowing how aware Mike Kelley was of the political, historical, and social issues that articulate and define our time, we felt that it was only true to his vision to bring ‘Mobile Homestead’ to the city he cared for, to Los Angeles.” [GalleristNY]

    — Obrist Plans Lyotard Sequel: Curator Hans Ulrich Obrist plans to organize a sequel exhibition to Jean-François Lyotard’s 1985 Paris show “Les Immatériaux” at the Luma Arles campus in southern France. [TAN]

    — Italian Museum Officials Downplay David Danger: “Even if there is an earthquake of 5.0 or 5.5 on the Richter scale, Florence will stay in one piece. And David would be the last to fall,” said Marco Ferri, a spokesman for Florence’s museum authority, in an attempt to squash rumors that Michelangelo’s masterpiece is structurally comprised. [Guardian]

    — Getty Gift Kick Starts PST Research: The J. Paul Getty Trust has gifted $5 million in grant money for state institutions to research and plan exhibitions on Latin American art for the forthcoming 2017 Pacific Standard Time initiative. [NYT]

    — Santa Monica alternative space Highways is throwing a 25th anniversary party that includes performances by Llyn Foulkes and others. [LAT]

    — Sculptors Brent Crothers and Chris Bathgate have been awarded 2014 Baker Artist Awards. [Artforum]

    — A man was busted for selling forged Picassos and Dalis to undercover postal inspectors. [Texomas]

    ALSO ON ARTINFO

    What’s Your Type? A Personality Guide to Frieze Week

    Mika Rottenberg Games the System

    Documentary Attempts to Demystify Sol LeWitt

    Preview: Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

    VIDEO: The NY Times Reinterpreted by Fred Tomaselli at James Cohan

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

    Mark Ryden attends Kohn Gallery Grand Opening

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    Beyond the Booths: A Definitive List of Frieze Week Events

    With all the commotion surrounding Frieze New York, it may seem hard to believe that the fair, which runs May 9-12, isn’t the only event happening this week. There’s also the Collective Design Fair and a plethora of satellite fairs, openings, parties, and talks worth checking out. What’s more, Frieze has organized a lecture program that brings the likes of 2015 Venice Biennale director Okwui Enwezor and members of Pussy Riot to Randall’s Island. Below, ARTINFO has compiled a list of Frieze Week events to keep you engaged beyond the booths and tents. But we can only tell you about what’s going on — getting into everything on our list is up to you.

    Wednesday, May 7

    Opening: Ragnar Kjartansson, Roberto Cuoghi, Camille Henrot at the New Museum, 235 Bowery, 6-8 p.m.
    The New Museum celebrates three new exhibitions by extending its usual hours into the evening. Kjartansson presents his first New York museum show, an exploration of his relationship with his mother and father through video, performance, and drawings; Cuoghi recreates an Assyrian lament from 612 BC; and Henrot shows four new videos as part of a survey of her recent work.

    Awards:The Whitney American Art Award at the Highline Stages, 440 West 15th Street, New York, 7 p.m.
    The Whitney’s 23rd annual American Art Award honors Dorothy Lichtenstein, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and the Maramotti Family. The award, an original work of art, is commissioned from an American artist and presented to the honorees at a gala dinner. Josephine Meckseper, whose work was shown in the 2010 Whitney Biennial and is represented in the museum’s permanent collection, designed this year’s award.

    Book Launch: Keren Cytter Celebrates “Peacocks and Hiccups” at the Russian Samovar, 256 West 52nd Street, 9 p.m.
    Prolific multimedia artist Keren Cytter celebrates the launch of a new volume of poetry and prose, “Peacocks and Hiccups,” released by her publishing imprint Art Projects Era. There’s a reading at 9 p.m. from the trio of writers featured in the book (Karl Holmqvist, Luna Miguel, and Catherine Wagner), followed by a “political party” with DJs and booze.

    Thursday, May 8

    Opening:“Hot House,” 418 East 115th Street, May 8-11, Thursday, 1- 10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
    L.A.-based Night Gallery and Brooklyn’s Knowmoregames curate an exhibition of “performance, music, and other experiences of art as ritual” inside a formerly abandoned townhouse in Spanish Harlem. Presented by the new “curatorial concept” Blackrock/Whiterock, the show is spread across four levels: a sculpture-garden basement, a ground floor performance space, a second floor gallery for tchotchkes, and a third floor living space for participating artists, where they will share meals with guests.

    Opening: Yves Klein and Andy Warhol at Skarstedt Chelsea, 550 West 21st Street, 6-8 p.m.
    Skarstedt Gallery opens its new Chelsea space, designed by architect Annabelle Selldorf (renowned for last year’s David Zwirner expansion), following the success of its Upper East Side and London branches. The downtown space, devoted to historical exhibitions, will present an inaugural show of Klein’s “Fire Paintings” and Warhol’s “Oxidation Paintings.”

    Talk: Andrew Kuo and Ari Marcopolous at NeueHouse, 110 East 25th Street, 6:30-8 p.m.
    Marlborough Gallery artists Kuo and Marcopolous will talk about the intersection of art and sports with moderator Kalefa Sanneh. Reserve at spot by writing to rsvp@neuehouse.com.

    Party: Whitney Art Party at the Highline Stages, 440 West 15th Street, 8 p.m.-1 a.m.
    The annual fête and silent auction, staged to raise money for the Whitney’s Independent Study Program, will be hosted by actress Zoe Saldana, MaxMara heiress Maria Giulia Maramotti, and Whitney director Adam Weinberg. VIPs will have the chance to preview a silent auction hosted by Art.sy that closes on May 8. The night’s highlight, however, promises to be a .gif photo booth directed by the artist group assume vivid astro focus.

    Friday, May 9

    Talk: Okwui Enwezor with Jason Moran at Frieze New York, Randall’s Island, 12 p.m.
    Enwezor, artistic director of the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015, will talk with jazz musician and performance artist Moran about their shared interests — the interplay of art and music. The two appear to be friends: Enwezor and Moran had a similar public conversation in October, after the latter held a performance in Munich.

    Talk: Pussy Riot with David Remnick at Frieze New York, Randall’s Island, 4 p.m.
    Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina, the two most infamous members of Pussy Riot, will speak with Remnick, editor-in-chief of the New Yorker and Russian culture expert, about their work in activism. The Russian duo will discuss their new NGO, Zona Prava, devoted to advocating for prison reform.

    Opening: Jens Praet at Sebastian + Barquet Gallery, 601 West 26th Street, Suite 300, 6-8 p.m.
    Praet’s first solo show in New York City will debut his “Shredded” series of furniture, made from copies of Art+Auction magazine (published by Louise Blouin Media, which also publishes this website) that have been cut into strips, mixed with resin and confetti, poured into a furniture-shaped molds, and polished. The designer’s “Dressed” series, made from scrap fabric covered in wax and cast in bronze, will also be on display, including a low table specially commissioned for Sebastian + Barquet.

    Performance: Antifreeze at Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street, 8 p.m.
    Hosted by Whitney Biennial alumna Zackary Drucker, the evening of short, off-the-cuff performances by Colin Self, Joseph Keckler, and Dynasty Handbag skewers gender conventions, consumerism, and, of course, art fairs. Reserve a seat at info@nypac.org.

    Saturday, May 10

    Talk:“Nordic Influence: Designers Discuss the Scandinavian Legacy at Collective Design Fair,” Moynihan Station, 330 West 33rd Street, 1 p.m.
    Museum of Arts and Design director Glenn Adamson talks with designers Wendell Castle, Joseph Walsh, and Cathrine Raben Davidsen about the enduring influence of Scandinavian design on their own work. Adamson has also guest-curated “Collective Focus: Scandinavia,” with Nordic pieces borrowed from Collective design fair exhibitors, to highlight the region’s presence at the fair.

    Opening: Mana Exposition at Mana Contemporary, 888 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey, 1-7 p.m.
    The art storage facility and gallery complex in Jersey City hosts its inaugural commercial exhibition, showing works with a market value over $10 million inside its Richard Meier-designed Glass Gallery. Curated by artist Ray Smith, “The Best Artists Are My Friends, Part 1” includes pieces by Alex Katz, the Bruce High Quality Foundation, and Swoon. The selling show runs through August 1, but on May 10, shuttle buses from Manhattan will run every half hour from Milk Gallery at 450 West 15th Street, beginning at 12:30 p.m.

    Gallery Night: Frieze Chelsea Night, Between West 14th and West 28th Streets, 6-8 p.m.
    A number of New York-based Frieze exhibitors are staying open late to welcome new and VIP clients to their principal gallery spaces. Participants include Sean Kelly Gallery, showing Rebecca Horn, and Anton Kern Gallery, showing Matthew Monahan.

    Sunday, May 11

    Art Walk: Lower East Side Art Walk, Between Houston and Canal Streets, 12-6 p.m.
    In conjunction with Frieze, East Village and SoHo galleries will stay open on Sunday afternoon to welcome clients and the public. Participants include Lesley Heller Workspace, R. Jampol Projects, Christopher Henry, and Molly Krom.

    Talk: Kenneth Goldsmith at Frieze New York, Randall’s Island, 4 p.m.
    The poet and founder of online avant-garde art archive UbuWeb will deliver the fair’s keynote lecture. Named MoMA’s inaugural poet laureate in 2013, Goldsmith has authored 11 books of poetry and is currently working to print out the entire contents of the Internet.

    This piece was written by Anna Kats with additional reporting by Ashton Cooper and Scott Indrisek.

    Share your insider pics of #FriezeWeekNYC with us on Twitter

    People walk through last year's Frieze New York.

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    Click HERE to see a video preview of Sotheby's upcoming sale. 

    Claude Monet’s Nymphéas, 1907, is among highlights on offer tonight at Christie’s, but a different-flavor Monet is among the best lots at Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on May 7. Sur la falaise à Pourville, 1882, a pristine, unlined canvas offering a stunning seaside view, comes from the series of cliffwalk paintings the artist made in Normandy. It is being deaccessioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it has resided since 1956. It was bequeathed from the collection of Julia Emmons, whose father, Arthur Emmons, acquired the painting in 1907 from Durand-Ruel, Monet’s primary-market dealer. The provenance trail for the work, which carries an estimate of $5 million to $7 million, is impeccable. Also historically significant, the painting was part of a select group of French Impressionist pictures exhibited in New York at the National Academy of Design in 1886, believed to be the first time such foreign fare was shown in the United States.

    Moving into the modern realm, Henri Matisse’s La séance du matin, 1924, depicts the artist’s key model and studio assistant, Henriette Darricarrère, seated in a striped yellow dress and painting in Matisse’s light-filled studio in Nice. “It’s the best Nice picture that’s been on the market in a long time,” says Simon Shaw, worldwide co-head of the Impressionist and modern department at Sotheby’s. It is estimated at $20 million to $30 million. Matisse, who taught Darricarrère to paint, executed another version, known as The Three O’Clock Sitting, 1924, which is held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    From a bit later in the 20th century, Picasso’s large-scale narrative from a celebrated series, Le sauvetage, 1932, features characters engaged in a carefree game of beach-ball as a drowning girl is being rescued. It was inspired by a witnessing of similar events by Marie-Thérèse Walter, Picasso’s young lover and muse. The picture is estimated at $14 million to $18 million—an attractive range, considering it last sold in May 2004 at Sotheby’s New York for $14,792,000.

    Topping the sculpture entries is Giacometti’s masterful lifetime bronze, La place, 1948, estimated at $12 million to $18 million, which features five of his gaunt figures hurriedly crossing a square. The work hails from the esteemed Chicago collection of Morton G. Neumann, and last sold in May 2000 at Sotheby’s New York for $4,515,750.

    A version of this article appears in the May 2014 issue of Art+Auction magazine.

    Preview: Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale
    Alberto Giacometti's "La Place," 1948, estimated at $12,000,000-$18,000,000.

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    The head of Christie's Asia takes us on a jaunt of his favorite hotspots in Hong Kong. 

     

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    Hong Kong, a rich confluence of East and West, is a rare mix of historic and modern, capitalism and exoticism, cultural island, and frenetic city all at once. For Francois Curiel, President of Christie’s Asia, it’s nothing short of a stimulating playground.

    Curiel, who first joined the auction house in 1969 as a jewelry specialist in London and later became head of Christie’s in France, has lived for four years in the city that is as renowned for its traditional Cantonese cooking as its international flavors, and where dining, after all, is also an important form of business etiquette and social bonding.

    While he often skips lunch or just has a sandwich at his desk, he loves the authentic yum-cha experience at Maxim’s Palace Chinese Restaurant at City Hall in Central when he goes out. “Dim-sum is served on carts the old-fashioned way, with an iPad in front of the cart so that [the foreigners] can tell what’s on the cart. The spectacular view of the Victoria Harbour doesn’t hurt either.  But go early,” he advised, “as queues can be long.”

    Maxim’s Palace Chinese Restaurant
    2/F, Low Block, City Hall, Central, +852 2521 1303

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    Clipper Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental is another favorite, as “service is wonderful and the setting incredibly warm,” noted Curiel. “[Not only do they serve a] great buffet, but also wonton soup and Hainanese chicken rice. It just never disappoints.”

    Clipper Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental
    5 Connaught Road, Central, +852 2825 4007

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    An oyster buffet at the Clipper Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental. Courtesy Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.
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    As a hotel, “nothing beats the Mandarin Oriental, with its perfect location,” Curiel added. “The French would call this ‘la place de village,’ the centre of a small town that one must cross many times a day, where you get to see everyone.”

    And, if the Parisian ever gets homesick, “’Atelier de Robuchon at The Landmark is where he goes for “a bit of Paris” in Hong Kong, “I love the ambience of a casual lunch at the bar.”

     

    Mandarin Oriental
    5 Connaught Road, Central, +852 2825 4007

    L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
    15 Queen's Road West, Central, +852 2166 9000

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    Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Courtesy Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
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    Although Curiel, 63, professes not to be a night owl, he has firm recommendations for the best nightlife in the city where people work hard and perhaps play harder.

    “I am not much into bars, but I tell my friends to go to Sevva at Prince’s Building, which is a fabulous place for cocktails, with stunning views of the city,” he said. “The 4th floor terrace of Duddell’s is a great place to hang out, as there are always plenty of folks from the art world there—just in case I haven’t seen enough art people during the day.”

    Sevva
    10 Chater Rd, Central, +852 2537 1388

    Duddell's
    1 Duddell Street, Central, +852 2525 9191

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    The salon at Duddell's. Courtesy Duddell's
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    If you do want to find art people during the day, though, Curiel recommends the new Liang Yi Museum on Hollywood Road. “It’s where Hong Kong connoisseur Peter Fung houses his impressive collection of antique Chinese furniture and French vanity boxes. He’s one collector with two collections of distinctly different fields that are equally exquisite. I find this highly fascinating,” he mused.

    Liang Yi Museum
    181-199 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, +852 2806 8280

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    The third floor of the Liang Yi Museum. Photo by Jonathan Maloney
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    There are also three buildings, all within walking distance from each other in Central, that house many great galleries, including Gagosian Gallery, Ben Brown, Pearl Lam, Simon Lee, and Lehmann Maupin at 12 Pedder Street; Galerie Perrotin, Ravenel, and White Cube at 50 Connaught Road; and Edouard Malingue Gallery at 8 Queen’s Road Central. Plus, from there, it’s just a stone’s throw away from the James Christie Room, Christie’s newly-opened gallery space at Alexandra House. “It’s beautiful, spacious, state-of-the-art, and has stunning views of the Victoria Harbour… I can go on forever,” said Curiel.

     

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    An installation view of Gilbert & George's "London Pictures" at White Cube Hong Kong. © Gilbert & George/ Courtesy White Cube
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    Of course, Hong Kong, with its undulating terrain, boasts many other architectural marvels. Some of Curiel’s favorites include The Bank of China tower, the most recognizable skyscraper on the Hong Kong skyline designed by I.M. Pei, and the HSBC Building by Norman Foster, with its dramatic skeleton exterior, open atrium and interior. The Asia Society Hong Kong Center is another—created by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the building demonstrates the duo’s prowess at blending new construction and renovated historic structures into a landscape.

     

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    The HSBC Building. Photo by Ian Lambot
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    The other thing Hong Kong is known for is being a tax-free retail paradise. Curiel professes not to have much time to shop—and why would he, when he can regularly ogle and partake of fine art, jewelry and fashion auctions from the collections of, say, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, while at work—but he regularly dispatches friends to shop at Pacific Place and IFC, two of the swankiest malls housing equally upscale local and international retailers such as Bulgari, Chanel, Harvey Nichols, I.T. and Lane Crawford.

    Pacific Place
    88 Queensway, Admiralty, +852 2844 8900

    IFC Mall
    8 Finance Street, Central, +852 2295 3308

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    The oval atrium at the IFC mall. Courtesy IFC Mall
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    As for must-do experiences, Curiel suggests scaling The Peak, which is the highest point of the city, via the historic funicular, the Peak Tram, which has been running up and down the hill since 1888. Go for the view, stay for some lunch: The Peak Lookout (built on the site that was originally used as a rest place and workshop for British engineers that constructed the Peak Tram line and formerly known as the Old Peak Cafe) offers everything from Asian favorites to classic Western dishes with a nostalgic interior design, a wonderful collection of historic photographs, and a terrace with a panoramic view of the Aberdeen as a complimentary side dish.

    For an interesting slice of “old” Hong Kong, be sure to walk along Hollywood Road to see the art galleries, folk art and antique stalls and specialty shops lining it.

    The Peak
    33 Garden Road, Central

     
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    The Peak tram taking tourists up to panoramic views of of Hong Kong's skyline. Photo by Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images
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    Hong Kong Airport
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    Curiel also has tips for first-time visitors who may find themselves overwhelmed by the bustle of Hong Kong International Airport, which has the reputation of being the world’s 11th busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic. “The Airport Express is a godsend. It is reasonably priced, impeccably clean, and the fastest way to get from the airport to town,” Curiel advised. Once you’re in town, getting around is easy with the Octopus card, “which allows you to ride pretty much all public transport and also to pay at many retail outlets and even for medical services at public hospitals!”

     
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    Hong Kong Airport. Courtesy Wikicommons
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    While Curiel spends a majority of his time in the Central district—where his office, favorite restaurants and friends are—he prefers to escape the madding crowd by simply getting away from it.

    “The city is one of the most densely built places in the world, but paradoxically, lush greenery can be just a short ride away.  Fantastic hiking trails are within easy reach of the city.  For a quick walk, I go to the Peak along Old Peak Road. If one wants a real workout, one can start from Parkview, over Violet Hill, and finish at Stanley,” he said. “If you have access to a boat, the quiet beaches and beautiful coastlines of Hong Kong can calm any troubled soul. To me, it is the best Hong Kong experience.”

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    A beach in Hong Kong. Photo courtesy Kyle Taylor via Flickr.
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    Report: Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

    The spring auction season opened with a strong and rather unexciting bang at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern evening sale, which fetched $285,879,000 for the 47 artworks that sold.

    Only six of the 53 lots offered failed to sell for a crisp buy-in rate of 11 percent by lot and even better four percent by value. The tally landed midway between pre-sale expectations of $243.7-359.1 million. That result easily vaulted past last May’s $158,505,000 total, with 44 lots sold. Of the 47 works sold, 43 sold for over $1 million and of those, nine exceeded $10 million and 18 went over $5 million.

    No artist records were set.

    Only five of the offerings carried financial guarantees, four financed entirely by Christie’s and one from an anonymous third party sources.

    The big story of tonight’s success, so it seems, revolved around three groups of choice estate property, including a tranche of eight Modernist paintings from Viktor and Marianne Langen that brought the biggest haul at $79.8 million (est. $73.5-105 million); seven paintings, sculpture, and silver from storied magnate and philanthropist Edgar M. Bronfman that made $21 million (est. $22.2-34 million); and four paintings from the Clark Family collection, left from the estate of heiress and recluse Huegette Clark, that realized $40.9 million (est. $41.5-60.5 million).

    The evening got off to a spirited start with one of the Langen consigned works as Pablo Picasso’s (lot 1) seaside idyll at Cannes, “Composition: Nu sur la plage,” a watercolor, brush, and pen and India ink on paper composition from 1933 sold for $2,517,000 (est. $1-1.5 million).

    A strong supply of decidedly Modern works helped drive the evening as another Langen entry, Wassily Kandinsky’s (lot 4) well-ordered and microscope like view abstraction from his late Paris period, “Pointes noires,” from 1937, brought $5,765,000 (est. $4-6 million).

    Another Langen Kandinsky (lot 17), the early and color-charged composition “Strandszene,” from 1909 — the period just prior to his leap to abstraction — made $17,189,000 (est. $16-22 million). Like the lion’s share of bidding, it went to an anonymous telephone bidder.

    While Christie’s wouldn’t identify buyers by their country of origin, the house said actual bidders or those registered to bid represented 36 countries.

    As department head Brooke Lampley described that melting pot of bidders in post-sale remarks, “It was clearly a testament to the incredible breadth of the market place.” 

    The modern art carousel continued to score well as George Braque’s  (lot 6) late and darkly moving “Atelier I,” from 1949, sold to benefit the American Hospital of Paris, made $4,645,000, selling to an otherwise unidentified woman seated in the front row of the salesroom (est. $4-6 million). The painting, part of a series of eight late works, was recently featured in a Braque survey that closed in January at the Grand Palais in Paris.

    Another Braque (lot 14), and unusual for two to appear during a single evening auction, “Le Modele,” from 1939, presented a more richly colored and animated artist studio scene, realized $9,125,000 (est. $8-12 million). It is difficult to imagine the meditative painting was created just a year before the Nazi occupation of Paris and thick in the midst of World War II.

    A striking Amedeo Modigliani portrait (lot 5), “Jeune homme roux assis,” from 1919 and featuring an anonymous and elegantly attired young man with arms and leg crossed, was one of the few exceeding pre-sale expectations, selling to a telephone bidder for $17,637,000New York dealer Maxwell Davidson IV was part of the under-bidders. Fresh to market, it first sold at auction at the antique sounding price of £21,000 in 1961 and last appeared at Sotheby’s New York in  November 2002, when it made $8,479,500, effectively doubling its value. Speculation as to the contemplative sitter’s identity has always been elusive, taking away some of its potential market appeal.

    Impressionist works were also well represented as Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s (lot 7) charming composition, “Les deux soeurs,” from circa 1890-95, redolent with sunshine and the girls’ focused attention, sold for $8,005,000 (est. $4-6 million).

    An earlier and more ambitious composition (lot 10), “Jeunes filles jourant au Volant,” from circa 1887 and featuring a summer scene of four well-costumed beauties posed during a badminton game alongside a lush landscape, sold for $11,365,000 (est. $10-15 million). That Renoir was one highlight from the Clark Family collection, aggressively marketed rather pompously by Christie’s as “An American Dynasty: The Clark Family Treasures.”

    The group’s star, however, was Claude Monet (lot 8), “Nympheas,” from 1907, a beautifully executed, vertical format depiction of the artist’s treasured water lily garden at Giverny. It fetched a somewhat tepid though top lot $27,045,000 (est. $25-35 million), going to a telephone bidder. It now ranks as the eight most expensive Monet to sell at auction. An unspecified portion of the Nympheas proceeds will benefit the Clark family’s favorite museum, the recently reconstituted Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

    The painting has been in the family collection since 1930, when Huegette’s father, the copper magnate and politician W.A. Clark, acquired it from the Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York.

    Another widely exhibited work, framed by a great provenance, Paul Cezanne’s (lot 12) “Marronniers et ferme du Jas de Bouffan,” from circa 1876 and presenting a grand view of his father’s cloistered estate in Aix, brought $4,645,000 and selling to yet another telephone bidder (est. $4-6 million). It last sold at auction from the Florence Gould estate in April 1985 at Sotheby’s New York for $907,500.

    It was one of four fully guaranteed lots offered by Christie’s and not part of a third party deal that has become the stock and trade of the high end part of the auction business.

    Returning to the Picasso front, of which 13 works were on offer and all but one sold, the high-spirited “Mangeuse de pasteque et homme ecrivant” (lot 21), from May 1965 and a trophy entry from the Edgar Bronfman estate, fetched $8,005,000 (est. $7-10 million). The dozen works by Picasso that sold contributed $88,941,000 to the overall evening total.

    The large-scale, 51 1/8- by 63 5/8-inch canvas depicts the nubile nude likeness of his wife and muse Jacqueline Roque, devouring a slice of watermelon while a serious young man writes in a notebook next to her, seemingly oblivious of his visitor. Bronfman acquired the painting from the then cutting edge Samuel Kootz Gallery in New York in 1965. The painting sold to Berlin dealer Aeneas Bastian of Galerie Bastian.

    “I can’t tell you who we bought it for,” said the dealer as he exited the low energy salesroom, “but it’s going to a private collection and I think it’s a good price, and makes sense.”

    Another Bronfman highlight, Edgar Degas’s bronze Le Tub (lot 22), a rather fantastic, 8 ½-inch high depiction of a Venus-like, cross-legged female bather sunk in her bath, was one of a handful of evening casualties, failing to sell at $2.8 million (est. $4-6 million).

    Picasso firepower continued throughout the evening, weaving through different periods and styles, such as the almost minimal (lot 27)  “Nature morte au filet de peche,” from 1925, that sold for $9,013,000 (est. $6-8 million) and the more ambitious and darkly haunting “Portrait de femme (Dora Maar)” (lot 29), from 1942, that made $22,565,000 (est. $25-35 million), selling to Chicago dealer Paul Gray of the Richard Gray Gallery.

    Both of the Picasso works hailed from the Langen collection and one always wonders how so many Picasso works can be absorbed by the market in a single evening.

    The least expensive of that baker’s dozen, the sprightly (lot 28) “Verre et carte a jouer,” from 1914, executed in gouache black crayon and paper collage on board and once owned by Douglas Cooper, sold to New York dealer David Nash for $665,000 (est. $600-800,000).

    “I had it marked in my catalogue,” said Nash as he left the salesroom, “but wasn’t expecting to bid, but when I saw it was going so cheaply, I went for it.” Nash characterized the sale as “over promoted and over estimated. It’s dull, isn’t it.”

    Back on the sculpture track, a stunning (lot 33) Alberto Giacometti lifetime bronze cast, “Femme de Venise IV,” named after the series of nine plaster works he created for the French Pavilion of the Venice Biennale in 1956, and subsequently cast in bronze, sold to Paul Gray for $12,709,000 (est. $10-18 million). It was chased and underbid by New York dealers Dominique Levy and Robert Mnuchin. It last sold at Sotheby’s London in June 2000 for £1,873,500/$2,820,686).

    Another offering from the same private collection (lot 34), identified and promoted by Christie’s as “The Quest for Excellence: One Private Collector’s Passions,” was Joan Miro’s large-scaled and brilliantly composed abstraction “Le serpent a coquelicots trainant sur un champ de violettes people par des lezards en deuil,” from 1947 and despite the exhaustingly long poetic title, realized $12,485,000 (est. $12-18 million.).

    Though only two works qualified as Surrealist era material, the corker was (lot 37) Salvador Dali’s fantastically imagined landscape “Moment de transition,” from 1934, that brought $9,125,000 (est. $10-15 million). The painting debuted at Dali’s solo exhibition at the Julie Levy Gallery in New York in 1936.

    The Impressionist and Modern evening action resumes Wednesday at arch-rival Sotheby’s.

    Salvador Dalí's "Moment de transition" (1934) at Christie's

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    While he’s best known for explosively colorful, often ribald paintings, Carroll Dunham has also been sketching and drawing with a passion since the late ’70s. At Frieze New York, Gladstone Gallery’s booth is dedicated to a solo presentation of some 215 drawings that span from 1979 to 2014. We spoke with the artist about his early ambitions toward abstraction, naked women, and why he’s trying to be OK with art fairs.

    These are all works that have never been exhibited before. Why did you decide to pull this selection from your archives now?

    I’ve always done a lot of drawings, and I’ve held on to many, the small ones particularly. In the last few years I’ve gotten more interested in situations where people see them. I did an exhibition in LA a couple years ago and I really enjoyed doing it. When the idea came up of doing something with Gladstone at Frieze, I immediately thought of doing another selection that would show the development of the drawings over a long period of time.

    Looking back on those pieces, do you find that things you first worked through in drawing form ended up informing the paintings?

    I made drawings before I even made paintings, and I’ve always used drawing as a way to think about my paintings — both before and after I’ve made them. There are quite a few cross-references and relationships between the two trains of thought, but none of the drawings in this project at Frieze are direct, one-to-one studies for any particular painting. I see them as things that exist on their own.

    What can you accomplish through drawing that you can’t with painting?

    I think the main thing is that it’s relatively quick and painless. Paintings can be hard to work on and they require a lot of organization and patience. The way I work with drawing, a lot of times, they happen very quickly, in a very intimate, immediate way. I encounter less resistance, and I find that once I’ve made drawings about something it’s no longer in my mental space, it’s in the physical space in front of me. I can look at it and think about it more clearly, and it helps me going forward.

    Are you sitting down generally and drawing in the studio, or are you making work at home, while traveling, and so on?

    Certainly over the years I’ve made a lot of drawings in hotel rooms. I have a tendency to do that when I’m away. But I have several places in my studio, different rooms where I’ll have a desk and paper and I’ll know that if I want I can stop and make a note to myself, as it were. The activity, the vast majority of the time, is me sitting at a little table, working on small sheets of paper.

    You were in the recent, drawing-heavy show “The Age of Small Things,” curated by Chuck Webster at Dodge Gallery. And fairly recently Knowmoregames in Brooklyn hosted “Draw Gym,” a massive group show of younger artists working in the medium. Do you think there’s been a general drawing resurgence?

    It’s possible. I’ve been aware of younger artists who seem to be doing an awful lot of drawing as part of their general approach to things. But I think artists always are interested in other artists’ drawings — it’s kind of understood that there’s something very fundamental and basic about what someone does with drawing. It’s hard for me to know in terms of the zeitgeist if there’s been some shift, because I’ve always been very interested in seeing other peoples’ involvement with it.

    Are there contemporaries of yours whose practice you learned more about once you saw their drawings?

    When I was much younger and first living in New York, in the 1970s, I was lucky to meet older artists whose involvement with drawing was very pronounced. I worked in the studio of Dorothea Rockburne, who was doing a lot of important work with drawing as almost a primary medium. That made a big impact on my thinking. And in that same generation, someone like Mel Bochner, who’s an old friend, or Barry Le Va, both artists whose drawings have been a main part of their work, one of the fundamental aspects. I saw artists using drawing in a way that seemed very committed, and that stuck with me. But I’ve drawn in one way or another, at intervals, since I was a child. It was something I always loved to do, even before I had the idea that I could be an artist in some serious way. I drew as a diversionary hobby. It’s pretty deep in me, even without the connection to contemporary at.  

    Do you have an archive that goes all the way back to those childhood drawings?

    I have a few my mother saved. Having raised two children of my own I realize how much material kids can generate when they like to draw. I don’t even have a tiny fraction of what I made, but that’s fine — I’m not even sure I’m the same person I was then. But I have a pretty complete archive going back to when I consciously decided to be an artist, which is when I was maybe 25.

    I would imagine that, among artists, trading drawings is a pretty common way to pass your work on and exchange it for someone else’s…

    It’s a lovely thing, to meet someone who is very active in drawing, and you like what each other does. Trading is great. I’ve acquired some of my favorite things that way.

    The early drawings in the booth, from ’79 and ’80, are really different from your work now. 

    They are. It would’ve been difficult for the person back then to imagine the work that the person today is doing. But subjectively, the experience of being that person and working through time is also very seamless and connected. I’ve never felt like I stopped and regrouped and said, “Oh no, you have to rethink things, your whole approach is wrong.” Everything feels like it leads from one thing to the next. Looking at this group we’ve put together for Frieze, the attempt on my part was to show a train of thought that was continuous. It’s like following a trail of breadcrumbs that was never really interrupted. But, for example, the most glaring difference is I was very clear when I started to make art that I wanted to work within abstract painting. That was what I felt like I might be able to contribute to. And through the kinds of things my work has called upon me to do, I’ve changed my attitude about that quite a bit. At various times, and recently quite a bit, there’s a lot of recognizable subject matter in my work… which I don’t see as a case of having crossed from one territory to another, but I can see how it would look that way to someone else. 

    Sexualized forms make an appearance in the early drawings, and then eventually come to the fore. How have you used drawing to work out ideas about anatomy, or sexuality?

    Originally, the first element that appeared in my work was drawings of male body parts, which seemed to very much want to be drawn and have a presence. I tried, to the extent that it’s possible, to get out of my own way and follow what seemed to be my work’s real desire. I had quite a bit of resistance to allowing images like that into my work; it went against this notion that I was doing abstraction. But I did make use of it. That was the beginning of an evolution toward more elaborated images: not normal human bodies, but at least something like a body, or a shape that could operate as a substitute for a body, in visual terms.

    In my recent work I’m less focused on the sexual element. It’s not that I’m not aware of it — I’m a straight male drawing naked women, I get it — but it’s about a lot more than that. For a long time I’ve been interested in male and female archetypes, and how our ideas of ourselves is formed by our physical self. I’m also very interested in the “everybody has a mother” aspect of the human condition. It’s an important subject — women, and women’s private parts — and the idea of the doorway that every single human being took to get here. In some chain of associations that goes to sex, but that isn’t necessarily the main emphasis. I think I’m drawing these naked women over and over for reasons other than sexual obsessiveness — even though that may be an element, and I may be the least able to see it.

    Maybe it’s just our own repression, as viewers — to see nudity and assume “sex.”

    It’s funny — it used to be that one of the few places where images of naked women were OK in Western culture was in so-called fine art. Nobody looks at paintings of cherubs from the Renaissance and finds them dirty. But there’s something about the way contemporary culture is spun that people can’t not see it through a filter of pornography. I’ve been a little taken aback by the repetitiveness of that interpretation of what I’ve been doing for the last few years. If I were called to make representations of sex, I would make representations of sex. I think I could figure out how to draw that! But that’s not what I’m drawing.

    You mentioned that what first started appearing in the work is male genitals. You walk around New York and see graffiti, for instance, and it seems like it’s an oddly universal human impulse to draw male genitalia wherever there’s the space to do so, and a pen.

    That’s an element of the subject that I always rather liked, that it spoke to an impulse. And when that was a determinative subject in my work, I was much less interested in anything resembling a coherent, realistic scene of the world. The images came together out of spare parts and geometry, and I wasn’t trying to draw real-looking men with real-looking bodies. And the image of male genitalia seemed really like an icon more than a subject for realistic rendering, or any such thing.

    Let me ask you about Frieze itself. Often, when the topic of an art fair comes up with an artist, they’ll say “I’m treated like a piece of meat.” Or that it’s like “watching how the sausage gets made.” How do you feel?

    That’s always been my attitude. I’ve resisted art fairs the entire time I’ve been exhibiting my work — I’ve never been interested in them or cooperative about them. But I’ve been thinking a lot over the last few years, trying to be realistic about what’s going on in our so-called “art world,” and one thing that seems clear is that fairs are proliferating, and that a lot of people go to them. I’m trying to think differently about them. They may be, by my standards, horrible venues to look at things, in the sense that it’s a very commercialized environment, only there for a few days, quite ephemeral. But that’s only a difference in degree from our entire system of galleries and shows. I decided that maybe I’d learn more by being less negative about it. I can always go back to being negative if I don’t have a good time.

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    Carroll Dunham On Art Fairs, Genitals, and Draftsmanship
    Carroll Dunham

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    Delaware Tags First Deacquisition, Corcoran Loses Monet Cash, and More

    — Delaware Names First Deacquisition: Despite vocal protests for its decision to sell four works from its collection to pay down a debt, the Delaware Art Museum has named the first painting it will sell next month at Christie’s in London: Pre-Raphaelite William Holman Hunt’s “Isabella and the Pot of Basil.” The museum, which has some of the most significant Pre-Raphaelite holdings outside of the UK, has declined to release the names of the other three paintings it will sell. [Delaware]

    — Corcoran Loses Monet Money: At last night’s Christie’s auction, a rare Monet water lilies painting from the estate of Huguette Clark went for $24 million, $1 million shy of the sum necessary for a portion of the proceeds to go to Washington, D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery. Due to a strange clause in the disputed estate of Clark, the Corcoran could have gained half the proceeds of the hammer price. The sale is a serious let down for the struggling Corcoran, which is in talks to merge with to George Washington University and the National Gallery of Art. [WP]

    — Artist Faces Charges for Rooster-Penis Dance: South African artist Stephen Cohen has been charged with sexual exhibitionism after performing with a rooster tied to his penis in a public square near Paris’s Eiffel Tower last September, and is being asked to pay a €1,000 fine. The performance lasted for 10 minutes before police interfered and featured Cohen wearing platform shoes, a feathered headdress made of a stuffed pheasant, and dancing with the rooster attached to his penis. “I think the victim is art,” Cohen said of the incident. “I’m not saying I’m going to, but my desire is to complete what was incorrectly halted by the authorities.” [Art Daily]

    — RIP Maria Lassnig: Artist Maria Lassnig, who currently has a survey up at MoMA PS1, has passed away at the age of 94. [Gallerist]

    — NYC Subway’s First Oil Painting on Tour: Ralph Fasanella’s painting “Subway Riders,” the first oil painting ever installed in a New York City subway station, has been removed and will take part in the traveling exhibition “Self Taught Genius: Treasures From the American Folk Art Museum” for the next three-and-a-half years. [NYT]

    — Barney and Wilson to Perform at UCLA CAP: The 2014-15 season line up for UCLA’s Center for the Art of Performance will include new and recent works by Robert WilsonMatthew Barney, and John Zorn, films by Andy Warhol, and dance productions by the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. [LAT]

    — Christie’s Preview Video Mocked: Michael H. Miller hilariously dissected Christie’s preview video for its upcoming contemporary art sale, which featured professional skateboarder Chris Martin gliding through the building to the music of Awolnation. [Gallerist]

    — A new bill makes it more attractive for international museums to loan works to the US. [Cincinnati]

    — Former El Museo del Barrio director Jack Agüeros has died at 80. [Artforum

    — Turns out Chagall’s granddaughter, Bella Meyer, has a “floral design shop” downtown. [WSJ]

    ALSO ON ARTINFO

    Report: Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

    Beyond the Booths: A Definitive List of Frieze Week Events

    Carroll Dunham On Art Fairs, Genitals, and Draftsmanship

    Preview: Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale

    Spirit of Charles James Alive at the 2014 Met Ball

    VIDEO: Inside “The Duchamp Dictionary” with Author Thomas Girst

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

    William Holman Hunt’s "Isabella and the Pot of Basil" at Delaware Art Museum

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    As Aston Martin celebrates its centennial this year, and the Ford Mustang its 50th anniversary, carmakers have been looking to the future, revving up rollouts of new supercars and iconic designs at the recent Beijing and New York auto shows.

    The Ferrari California T, for instance, made its Asian debut at Auto China at the end of April, a turbocharged  and more crisply styled version of the young classic (replete with a new “prancing horse” logo modeled on the traditional Chinese imperial seal marking the Lunar year of the horse). On the other side of the world, meanwhile, another stallion, the Mustang, was also looking sleeker in a new iteration displayed on the observation deck of the Empire State Building for the New York International Auto Show.

    With China set to potentially replace the United States as the largest premium car market as early as 2016, according to a recent McKinsey report, luxury automakers are focusing more than ever on shiny new supercars and luxury sedans aimed at new customers. In Beijing, where more than a thousand vehicles were showcased from April 21 through 29, these ranged from the (relatively) affordable California T—which received 2014’s “Most Beautiful Automobile Award China” at an event organized by Car and Driver magazine—to the new version of Bugatti’s Veyron Type 18 “Black Bess,” of which only three will be made, and sold for $3.61 million each.

    Also in Beijing, BMW unveiled its regal new 9 series Vision Future Luxury concept car, with a view to starting production in 2016 and rivaling Mercedes-Benz’s upcoming, slightly more muscular S600 Maybac. For its part, Mercedes presented the SLS AMG Coupe Black Series, with its iconic gull-wing doors, to be produced in an edition of 10.

    In New York, Aston Martin was taking an opposite tack with its Vantage GT, which at $99,900 becomes the lowest priced option in the marque’s lineup, and a potential alternative for Porsche 911 buyers. Featuring a number of cosmetic touches that differentiate it from other Aston models, the Vantage GT will be available in a variety of race track-inspired paint and graphic options, and should begin deliveries in the third quarter of 2014.

    Another high-profile debut in New York was Chevy’s supercar, the Corvette Z06 convertible, which aims to bring the experience of driving a race car to the road. Other highlights at the show, held at the Javits Center from April 18-27, included a 1971 Ford Gran Torino customized with 3D printing; a 2015 McLaren 650S Spider with a new vertical, smartphone-like dashboard; the Jaguar F-Type coupe, sporting a more gently sloping, delicate roofline than its roadster cousin; and, of course, the 2015 Mustang GT. Ford will build 1,964 special editions of the car (in honor of its 1964 birthday), and which will be available in white or blue with either manual or automatic transmission.

    To see BLOUIN Artinfo’s round-up of highlights at recent auto shows in New York and Beijing, click on the slideshow.

    New Styling on View at Auto Shows in Beijing and New York
    2015 Mustang convertible

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    BAM Surveys the "Cool Worlds" of Ralph Bakshi

    Like many people, I first became aware of the animator Ralph Bakshi through his version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” produced in 1978. It was a video my brother and I watched with my father, who had introduced us to Tolkien’s work, more than once as children. I was never a fan of the books, having once attempted to read “The Hobbit” at my father’s insistence and not making it more than 10 pages in before discarding it for one of the many old copies of Hit Parader scattered around my bedroom floor, so I only remember snippets of Bakshi’s film version, most of it creepy to a young child.

    It was only later when my head was — cough, cough— expanded that I discovered Bakshi’s other work; his more adult work, so to speak, if you think of things like sex, drugs, and various unsaid expletives as adult. It’s certainly not mature in the most traditional sense of the term, deriving its influence from a portmanteau of counterculture commix, Borscht Belt comedy, and avant-garde animation (an underappreciated group of artists ranging from John and Faith Hubley to Robert Breer, who were showcased in a great show at the Museum of Art and Design in 2012), spliced together by a working-class and urban cynicism.

    Cool Worlds: The Animation of Ralph Bakshi,” a film series running at BAM May 9-20, will showcase the artist’s most profane and personal works, ranging from his earliest X-rated features to his nostalgic, and often biting, portraits of American culture. (Bakshi’s version of “Lord of the Rings” is notably absent from the program, a conscious choice it seems and one I don’t mind one bit.)

    There are many things linking all the works in the program, but in the crudest way Bakshi’s work can be divided into two sections. The first includes the dirtier, narratively loose films (“Fritz the Cat,” “Heavy Traffic”), the second the more narratively focused and nostalgic films (“American Pop,” “Hey Good Lookin’”). Each of these films has a little of everything in them, and others (“Wizards,” “Coonskin”) fall into a space somewhere in-between and are harder to define.

    While “Fritz the Cat,” based on the characters created by Robert Crumb (the artist ultimately disapproved of the film), was Bakshi’s first big commercial success — a cause celebre due to its being granted an X-rating — “Heavy Traffic” may be Bakshi’s first creative success, a diaristic voyage into the unknown, at times satirical and downright foul. The film stars a character named Michael Corelone (one of the many references to “The Godfather” throughout Bakshi’s work), an aspiring cartoonist with overbearing parents and a clear stand-in for Bakshi himself. The film is wild and feverish, at times moving from one scene to the next with little explanation of what’s happening, and it features an intriguing combination of live-action and animation. The animation style is more expressive than in “Fritz,” which mirrors the freeform structure of the film. (Speaking of freeform, the characters seem to have directly influenced Corky McCoy’s cover art for Miles Davis’s “On the Corner,” one of most wild and expressive jazz albums of all time.)

    Of Bakshi’s later films — and beginning in the early ’80s, there began to be long, long gaps between his works — “American Pop” is the most successfully executed, using a combination of animation techniques including rotoscoping, which is essentially Bakshi and his team of artists drawing over filmed scenes. Something akin to a jukebox musical, “American Pop” hangs on a multi-generational narrative with a backbeat. But make no mistake, music is the main focus for Bakshi, and the sequences set to song — including a rollicking medley of rock songs at the end of the film — are some of the best and most eloquent of his career, with a real control of the color and chaos that is splashing across the screen.

    “Cool World,” the Brad Pitt-starring 1992 film — a flop upon its release, the studio thinking they were getting another “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” — has proven to be Bakshi’s last feature film to date (he’s currently working on “Last Days of Coney Island,” funded through Kickstarter in 2013), and the animator has produced very little work since, while his influence has spread considerably. Cartoons like “Ren & Stimpy,” “South Park,” and even “The Simpsons” wouldn’t exist without Bakshi’s insight that animation on a popular level doesn’t need to be aimed at children. It could be a medium just as adept as film — maybe even more so — at capturing the imaginative possibilities of the moving image.

    Ralph Bakshi's "American Pop" (1981) at BAM

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    If you’re walking through the Frieze tent this week, watch your step when you get to Naama Tsabar’s booth, because its floor has been removed from the fair all together. The Israeli-born, Brooklyn-based artist requested that the floor be placed outside the tent, where it will act as a stage for a rotating list of bands comprised of 70 percent female musicians, to play an outdoor music festival for fairgoers. Tsabar’s Frieze Project, titled “Without,” comments on power dynamics that exist within the art fair structure, the economic burden placed on galleries renting booths, and gender imbalance across the arts.

    “‘Without’ represents a reverse mirror to what’s going on inside the fair,” Tsabar said in a recent interview with ARTINFO. “The percentage of men, the booth without the floor, or the festival without the borders of the fair, and the fact that predominantly female musicians will play on this very expensive real estate cut out of the fair and put outside. The name translates to something that is there and not there.”

    Co-curated by Mindy Abovitz, editor-in-chief of Tom Tom magazine (the only magazine in the world dedicated to female drummers), the festival line-up is an intentional mix of experienced and novice musicians, and includes bands from multiple genres. The point of this carefully curated program is to show that female musicians, like female artists, do not come in a single shape or size with identical musical interests, and that there are plenty of them — even though visibility is often still lacking.

    To that point, Abovitz was the perfect collaborator on this project. “Part of the mission for Tom Tom magazine is to clearly state female drummers before everything we do,” she said. “It’s a very clear agenda of ours, almost with the intention to remove the emphasis by creating an emphasis.”

    While other fairs spotlight female artists through special exhibitions, like the Armory Show’s “Venus Drawn Out: 20th Century Works by Great Women Artists” last March, Tsabar’s project asks what happens when all artistic presence, male and female, is removed from the fair booth — the minimalist gesture of the missing artists and gallerists from Tsabar’s dedicated space in the tent is big enough to notice. Repurposing the floor for a free music festival is also significant, as it allows the artists to claim a space that would have cost a gallery a steep price to reserve and makes music entirely accessible to the public.

    “With the festival we’re hoping to create an environment that’s comfortable, where both women and men will be watching the music and enjoying all genres, and all skill levels,” said Abovitz. “There will be very little of that conscious discomfort that comes from going to a festival and only seeing men, or for that matter only seeing women —the same applies to going to galleries and museums. I hope this is something of an example, so that people can feel as free as possible.”

    Click on the slideshow to see musicians performing in Naama Tsabar’s Frieze Project, “Without.”

    At Frieze, Naama Tsabar Has Exited the Tent
    Naama Tsabar's Music Festival at Frieze New York

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    In just its third year, Frieze Week has cemented its place as a powerhouse event in the New York art calendar, most recently luring the Outsider Art Fair into changing its dates and giving rise to two new fairs this year, SELECT and Downtown. The inaugural edition of the latter—a project of the veteran fair-birthing team behind Art Miami, Art Southampton, and Art Silicon Valley, among others—will run May 8 to 11 at the 69th Regiment Armory.

    “We’ve been running our Art Southampton fair for the last two years in the summer,” Nick Korniloff, who founded the fair with Mike Tansey and Brian Tyler, told ARTINFO. “A lot of our collectors out in the Hamptons, they’ve always asked us, ‘When are you going to do a show in the city?’ We looked at March dates then we started to talk to some of the dealers and they really thought that May was the great period of time to have a fair that complemented the auctions but also was complementary to Frieze.”

    Located at Lexington and 25th, the Downtown Fair hopes to capitalize on its proximity to the Frieze ferry (at 35th Street and the East River), and is also offering complimentary entry to Frieze VIPs.

    Downtown will be a modest affair compared to the sprawling Art Miami complex that the company mounts in Wynwood. The new fair, with 51 exhibitors, has chosen not to include the curated or young gallery sections that have become nearly ubiquitous. Instead, Downtown aims to set itself apart by focusing largely on the secondary market.

    “All of the other fairs are really focused in on the primary market,” Korniloff said. “The Downtown Fair will have select works from the secondary market that haven’t been seen before and fresh works from artists that are living and working today that have been made specifically for the fair. Also we are the only fair that has work complementing the current auction schedule.”

    Gallerists Yossi Milo, Nancy Hoffman, and William Shearburn selected the fair’s exhibitors, who mostly hail from cities across the U.S., with a smattering of Europeans. Milo, who is planning to show photographs by Marco Breuer at his booth, expects fairgoers will be “dazzled” by the “manageable and intimate” scale of the fair.

    “Working with William Shearburn and Nancy Hoffman on the committee was a wonderful experience, and we worked together well,” Milo said. “All of us were intent on making this fair fresh, unique, and more approachable than other blue-chip fairs, while maintaining a high standard of quality. Our model was the early days of the ADAA fair.”

    Los Angeles-based gallery Coagula Curatorial, which is also showing at Pulse, will debut three emerging LA artists — Michael Maas, Eva Malhotra, Linda Saccoccio — at Downtown. Founder Mat Gleason chose to participate in the fair’s inaugural year because of the company’s personal touch. “The people I’ve worked with at Art Miami are great,” Gleason said. “When I was at the Aqua art fair, every time I had a little problem they gave me personal assistance to take care of every little thing. When you’re doing the fairs, it’s this chaotic storm of activity, and when you need something, a lot of fairs, they just shrug at you. At Aqua, they bent over backwards for me.”

    “Fresh” is a watchword for Korniloff, and downtown aims to make itself relevant by keeping it in mind. “The selection process was very focused on galleries who would be bringing fresh work to the market, which was extremely important, both on the primary and the resale side of the market. For year one, we are very proud of the list of the galleries and I think you will continue to see this fair grow in regards to the uniqueness of it and the quality as it goes into year two next year.”

    To see a slideshow preview of highlights from the Downtown Fair, click here.

    Share your insider pics of #FriezeWeekNYC with us on Twitter

    Downtown Fair Joins Frieze Week Fray
    Moby's "Masters," an archival pigment print.

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    A Hearty But Selective Appetite at Sotheby's Imp/Mod Evening Sale

    The Impressionist and Modern market continued to show a hearty though selective appetite for top class works as Sotheby’s delivered a $219,010,001 result for the 50 lots that sold in its  Imp/Mod auction on Wednesday night. Thirty-six  of the fifty lots sold made over a million dollars and of those, four hurdled the ten million dollar mark.

    Twenty-one lots failed to sell for a flabby buy-in rate of 30 percent by lot, 23 percent by value. No artist records were set.

    The 71 lots offered had pre-sale expectations of $218.1-317.95 million, figured before the add-on of the steep buyer’s premium calculated at an additional 25 percent of the hammer price up to $100,000, 20 percent up to $2 million and 12 percent for anything above that mark. The night’s tally came up short compared to last May’s $230 million result for 60 works sold. It also significantly trailed Christie’s $285.8 million result for 47 lots sold on Tuesday evening.

    Still, the auction benefitted from auctioneer Henry Wyndhams’s authoritatively breezy and humorous style, imported from London, where he presides as chairman of Sotheby’s Europe. Wyndham is an ace replacement in this arena for star auctioneer Tobias Meyer, who left the company last year. 

    On the financial guarantee front, five lots had  backing either from Sotheby’s or anonymous third parties, assuring the sale of those works no matter how they fared in the auction salesroom.

    The evening got off to a stellar start as Pablo Picasso’s “Composition avec femme aux cheveaux mi-longs,” a sparely linear white panel composition from 1930 and one of a dozen works from the Jan Krugier estate, sold to Zurich/St. Moritz dealer Krystna Gmurzynska of Galerie Gmurzynska  for $2,285,000 (est. $900,000-1.2 million). Despite the big price, Gmurzynska said, “I thought it was quite a good buy.”

    Eleven of the 12 Krugier works sold for $32.9 million, well in excess of the group's overall $28.6 million high estimate.

    As at Christie’s evening sale on Tuesday, Picasso was represented by 13 works, but on Wednesday it wasn’t his lucky number, with five of those works failing to sell, no doubt because of unrealistic estimates. Still, the maestro added $62 million to the overall tally.

    Another Krugier offering, George Braque's  “Verre et guitare” from 1912—a choice, oval shaped work in charcoal, pencil, faux bois paper, brown paper and chalk on cardboard, also from the Krugier estate—realized $629,000 (est. $400-600,000). It had last sold at Sotheby’s New York in May 2004 for $456,000.

    And Fernand Leger’s color-charged, geometric  “Les Maisons” from 1922, once owned by the novelist W. Somerset Maugham and more recently by Krugier, sold to a telephone bidder for $3,973,000 (est. $2.5-3.5 million). New York private dealer Nancy Whyte was the underbidder.

    The Picasso cavalcade returned with the page-sized, thickly impastoed oil “Portrait de Marie-Therese” from 1932, depicting his lover ensconced in a red leather armchair. It made $4,869,000, selling to another telephone bidder (est. $3-4 million). London dealer Simon Theobold was the underbidder. The work had last sold at Sotheby’s New York in November 2000 for $1.1 million.

    Another Marie-Therese inspired picture, “Le Sauvetage” from November 1932—a lively beach scene of acrobatic bathers playing while a limp, half-drowned figure is carried out of the sea—launched a marathon bidding war. Guaranteed by an anonymous third party, it sold to a determined telephone bidder for the top-lot price of $31,525,000 (est. $14-18 million). It was also the week's most expensive lot so far, beating out the Claude Monet "Nympheas" that sold for $27 million at Christie's the night before. 

    “Le Sauvetage” had last sold at Sotheby’s New York in May 2004 for $14,792,000, or less than half Wednesday's price.

    Picasso’s long-time friend and rival, Henri Matisse, didn’t capture the fancy of the salesroom. His  “La Séance du matin” from 1924, featuring Henriette Darricarrera, the artist’s model and studio assistant, taking a painting lesson in Matisse’s studio in Nice, sold to an Asian buyer in the salesroom for $19,205,000. (est. $20-30 million). It carried a third party guarantee, as evidenced by a horseshoe-shaped symbol adjacent to the artist’s name in the telephone book-thick auction catalogue. The painting had last sold at auction at Sotheby’s New York in May 1986 for $1 million.

    Asian buying, in fact, contributed a hefty $63.9 million of the evening’s proceeds, accounting for eight of the lots sold and demonstrating once again the growing depth of that hungry market.

    Though dominated by 20th century offerings, the sale also included a handful of Impressionist-era works, like Alfred Sisley’s light-and-shadow-dominated painting from 1880, “Les Carrieres a veneux au soleil-le matin,” which brought $3,749,000 (est. $2-3 million), and Claude Monet’s dramatic cliffside view from 1882, “Sur la falaise a Pourville,” deaccessioned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which sold to another telephone bidder for $8,229,000 (est. $5-7 million). London dealer Jonathan Green of Green Gallery was the underbidder.

    Green tried for two other lots, noting after the sale, “there’s a very strong market for good things, but there’s no market for s---!”

    Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s pretty though artificially posed “La Toilette” from 1885, portraying a half-dressed beauty pinning up her hair while seated in a bucolic outdoor setting, sold for $3,525,000 (est. $4-6 million).

    A 20th-century Monet, the lush and beautiful “Le Pont japonais,” depicting the  foot bridge spanning the lily pond at Giverny and dated from 1918-24, brought $15,845,000, selling to a telephone bidder speaking to Patti Wong, Sotheby’s Asia head (est. $12-18 million). It failed to sell the last time it was offered at auction, at Sotheby’s New York back in May 1997, so the long hibernation was clearly beneficial. The painting is stamped with the artist’s signature, and not personally signed, meaning it never left Monet’s studio during his lifetime. Signed Monets carry considerably more commercial weight in the market.

    Sculpture was strongly represented, with four bronzes by Alberto Giacometti, including his iconic 43½-inch high “Femme de Venise V” from a 1958 cast, which sold from the Krugier trove for $8,789,000 (est. $6-8 million). Another version, “Femme de Venise IV,” finished with a rarer and more desirable hand-painted patina, sold at Christie’s Tuesday evening for $12.7 million (est. $10-18 million).

    Back at Sotheby’s, Giacometti’s 1948  cover lot, “La Place”—a reputation-making urban scene of gaunt, alienated figures crossing a city square—brought $13,045,000 (est. $12-18 million). It had last sold at Sotheby’s New York in May 2000 from the Morton F. Neumann Family Collection for $4.5 million.

    A Giacometti painting was also part of the Swiss artist’s mix, “Atelier I” from 1950, a kind of still life portrait of one of the artist’s sculpted heads perched on a studio pedestal. It  carried a third-party guarantee and sold for $3,861,000 (est.$3-4 million).

    Together, the five Giacometti works contributed $35.1 million to the evening's total.

    In fleshy contrast to Giacometti’s spectral figures, Auguste Rodin’s carved marble “Eve” from 1900-01, modestly standing with arms akimbo, protecting her bare chest, made $4,869,000 (est. $4-6 million).

    Hans Arp’s polychromed wood relief on painted cardboard from 1923, “Tete au nez rouge,” another Krugier entry, sold for $485,000 (est. $400-600,000) to Zurich dealer Doris Ammann, who then came back to win Giacometti’s  20-inch high bronze, “Nu debout” from a lifetime cast of the 1955 plaster, for $5,989,000 (est. $3.5-4.5 million). New York dealer Maxwell Davidson was the underbidder.

    Works by other modern masters, including five paintings by Joan Miro, were led by “Sans titre” from 1947, painted during Miro's stay in New York (and literally filmed while he was making it), which sold to a young and constantly smiling Asian bidder seated in the salesroom with a cell phone glued to his ear for $8,005,000 (est. $4-6 million). Cool under pressure, he beat out at least three other bidders.

    Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Picasso offerings came near the tail end of the sale, as the contemporary scaled, 77-by-51-inch “Femme dans un rocking-chair” from 1956, also from the Krugier collection, found a new home at $6,325,000 (est. $2-3 million). The obviously low-ball estimate certainly helped this time around; the picture was offered and went unsold last November at Christie’s New York , where it carried an $8-12 million estimate.

    “I think when things are not estimated too aggressively we see very good results,” said art advisor Abigail Asher of Guggenheim Asher Associatesas she exited the salesroom, “and when things are estimated very aggressively, the market pulls back. So it’s hit or miss.”

    The evening action resumes on Monday at Christie’s one-off contemporary sale, “If I Live I'll See You Tuesday.”

    A detail of Henri Matisse's "La Séance du matin," painted in 1924.

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    The head of Christie's Asia takes us on a jaunt of his favorite hotspots in Hong Kong. 

     

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    EAT

    Hong Kong, a rich confluence of East and West, is a rare mix of historic and modern, capitalism and exoticism, cultural island, and frenetic city all at once. For Francois Curiel, President of Christie’s Asia, it’s nothing short of a stimulating playground.

    Curiel, who first joined the auction house in 1969 as a jewelry specialist in London and later became head of Christie’s in France, has lived for four years in the city that is as renowned for its traditional Cantonese cooking as its international flavors, and where dining, after all, is also an important form of business etiquette and social bonding.

    While he often skips lunch or just has a sandwich at his desk, he loves the authentic yum-cha experience at Maxim’s Palace Chinese Restaurant at City Hall in Central when he goes out. “Dim-sum is served on carts the old-fashioned way, with an iPad in front of the cart so that [the foreigners] can tell what’s on the cart. The spectacular view of the Victoria Harbour doesn’t hurt either.  But go early,” he advised, “as queues can be long.”

    Maxim’s Palace Chinese Restaurant
    2/F, Low Block, City Hall, Central, +852 2521 1303

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    Clipper Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental is another favorite, as “service is wonderful and the setting incredibly warm,” noted Curiel. “[Not only do they serve a] great buffet, but also wonton soup and Hainanese chicken rice. It just never disappoints.”

    Clipper Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental
    5 Connaught Road, Central, +852 2825 4007

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    An oyster buffet at the Clipper Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental. Courtesy Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong.
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    STAY

    As a hotel, “nothing beats the Mandarin Oriental, with its perfect location,” Curiel added. “The French would call this ‘la place de village,’ the centre of a small town that one must cross many times a day, where you get to see everyone.”

    And, if the Parisian ever gets homesick, “’Atelier de Robuchon at The Landmark is where he goes for “a bit of Paris” in Hong Kong, “I love the ambience of a casual lunch at the bar.”

     

    Mandarin Oriental
    5 Connaught Road, Central, +852 2825 4007

    L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
    15 Queen's Road West, Central, +852 2166 9000

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    Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Courtesy Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong
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    Although Curiel, 63, professes not to be a night owl, he has firm recommendations for the best nightlife in the city where people work hard and perhaps play harder.

    “I am not much into bars, but I tell my friends to go to Sevva at Prince’s Building, which is a fabulous place for cocktails, with stunning views of the city,” he said. “The 4th floor terrace of Duddell’s is a great place to hang out, as there are always plenty of folks from the art world there—just in case I haven’t seen enough art people during the day.”

    Sevva
    10 Chater Rd, Central, +852 2537 1388

    Duddell's
    1 Duddell Street, Central, +852 2525 9191

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    The salon at Duddell's. Courtesy Duddell's
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    If you do want to find art people during the day, though, Curiel recommends the new Liang Yi Museum on Hollywood Road. “It’s where Hong Kong connoisseur Peter Fung houses his impressive collection of antique Chinese furniture and French vanity boxes. He’s one collector with two collections of distinctly different fields that are equally exquisite. I find this highly fascinating,” he mused.

    Liang Yi Museum
    181-199 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, +852 2806 8280

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    The third floor of the Liang Yi Museum. Photo by Jonathan Maloney
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    There are also three buildings, all within walking distance from each other in Central, that house many great galleries, including Gagosian Gallery, Ben Brown, Pearl Lam, Simon Lee, and Lehmann Maupin at 12 Pedder Street; Galerie Perrotin, Ravenel, and White Cube at 50 Connaught Road; and Edouard Malingue Gallery at 8 Queen’s Road Central. Plus, from there, it’s just a stone’s throw away from the James Christie Room, Christie’s newly-opened gallery space at Alexandra House. “It’s beautiful, spacious, state-of-the-art, and has stunning views of the Victoria Harbour… I can go on forever,” said Curiel.

     

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    An installation view of Gilbert & George's "London Pictures" at White Cube Hong Kong. © Gilbert & George/ Courtesy White Cube
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    Of course, Hong Kong, with its undulating terrain, boasts many other architectural marvels. Some of Curiel’s favorites include The Bank of China tower, the most recognizable skyscraper on the Hong Kong skyline designed by I.M. Pei, and the HSBC Building by Norman Foster, with its dramatic skeleton exterior, open atrium and interior. The Asia Society Hong Kong Center is another—created by architects Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, the building demonstrates the duo’s prowess at blending new construction and renovated historic structures into a landscape.

     

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    The other thing Hong Kong is known for is being a tax-free retail paradise. Curiel professes not to have much time to shop—and why would he, when he can regularly ogle and partake of fine art, jewelry and fashion auctions from the collections of, say, Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, while at work—but he regularly dispatches friends to shop at Pacific Place and IFC, two of the swankiest malls housing equally upscale local and international retailers such as Bulgari, Chanel, Harvey Nichols, I.T. and Lane Crawford.

    Pacific Place
    88 Queensway, Admiralty, +852 2844 8900

    IFC Mall
    8 Finance Street, Central, +852 2295 3308

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    The oval atrium at the IFC mall. Courtesy IFC Mall
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    As for must-do experiences, Curiel suggests scaling The Peak, which is the highest point of the city, via the historic funicular, the Peak Tram, which has been running up and down the hill since 1888. Go for the view, stay for some lunch: The Peak Lookout (built on the site that was originally used as a rest place and workshop for British engineers that constructed the Peak Tram line and formerly known as the Old Peak Cafe) offers everything from Asian favorites to classic Western dishes with a nostalgic interior design, a wonderful collection of historic photographs, and a terrace with a panoramic view of the Aberdeen as a complimentary side dish.

    For an interesting slice of “old” Hong Kong, be sure to walk along Hollywood Road to see the art galleries, folk art and antique stalls and specialty shops lining it.

    The Peak
    33 Garden Road, Central

     
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    The Peak tram taking tourists up to panoramic views of of Hong Kong's skyline. Photo by Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images
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    Curiel also has tips for first-time visitors who may find themselves overwhelmed by the bustle of Hong Kong International Airport, which has the reputation of being the world’s 11th busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic. “The Airport Express is a godsend. It is reasonably priced, impeccably clean, and the fastest way to get from the airport to town,” Curiel advised. Once you’re in town, getting around is easy with the Octopus card, “which allows you to ride pretty much all public transport and also to pay at many retail outlets and even for medical services at public hospitals!”

     
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    Hong Kong Airport. Courtesy Wikicommons
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    While Curiel spends a majority of his time in the Central district—where his office, favorite restaurants and friends are—he prefers to escape the madding crowd by simply getting away from it.

    “The city is one of the most densely built places in the world, but paradoxically, lush greenery can be just a short ride away.  Fantastic hiking trails are within easy reach of the city.  For a quick walk, I go to the Peak along Old Peak Road. If one wants a real workout, one can start from Parkview, over Violet Hill, and finish at Stanley,” he said. “If you have access to a boat, the quiet beaches and beautiful coastlines of Hong Kong can calm any troubled soul. To me, it is the best Hong Kong experience.”

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    A beach in Hong Kong. Photo courtesy Kyle Taylor via Flickr.
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    The Tastemaker: Francois Curiel & HK
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    Q&A: Helen Toomer On Setting the Tone for the New Pulse

    Helen Toomer, the recently appointed director of Pulse, is making big changes to the fair on the eve of its 10th anniversary, which will coincide with Miami Art Week in December. Starting with this week’s New York edition, she’s resetting the tone of the fair by refining its exhibitor list, condensing it to one floor of the Metropolitan Pavilion, opening a section called Pulse Points dedicated to alternative spaces and non-profits, and packing the brand new Pulse Perspectives with a series of round table discussions that bring together curators, artists, journalists, and more. ARTINFO spoke with Toomer, a former gallerist and curator, about new programming, returning to Pulse in a different role, and what her hopes are for visitors and participants.

    What can we expect from Pulse New York this year?

    I have shaken it up a little bit for New York. It’s not necessarily a re-launch as much as a reconsideration of what the fair is and can be. I am focused on the artists being presented and the galleries — that’s key to me. Miami will officially be Pulse’s 10-year anniversary, which is a big deal for the Pulse team and also for the exhibitors, so I really want to celebrate that fact. I’d like it to be a nod to the old, but also want to bring in new galleries, new blood, new programming, new events, and cultivate a growing new community within the arts.

    Tell me about some of the changes you’ve made.

    The New York fair is returning to the Metropolitan Pavilion, and I’ve looked at this as an opportunity to condense the fair. I’m concentrating on a smaller amount of galleries to really focus on the quality, and it has allowed me a much more hands on approach with the galleries in order to talk to them about which artists they are bringing, what their vision is for the presentation, and to create a cohesive installation in each booth.

    I’ve also integrated the sections. The fair has always been divided between the Pulse galleries [the main floor], and the Impulse section [young, solo projects]. I’m doing away with the sections — I’m all about integrating and connectivity.

    What kind of programming will there be?

    We all get fair fatigue. Sometimes you walk into a fair and it just washes over you. Sometimes there is an uneven rhythm where things don’t stand out. What you need is to be able to pause and reassess, and I think that the programming is a really good way of doing that. It gives you the ability to re-contextualize what you’re looking at, and where you are, which is another reason for integrating the booths. By pairing younger, emerging artists at a young gallery next to more established artists and galleries, it creates a visual dialogue for the visitor, as well as connectivity for gallerists to talk to each other. This is an incredibly difficult time for gallerists. Rent is going up and so are art fairs costs. I think the more communication that they can have with each other, especially for younger galleries, the better. Having had a gallery myself, I looked to my peers for advice and support.

    Are there things from the last time you were involved with Pulse that you’d like to see happen again?

    Back in 2007 and 2009, when I was the Pulse’s communications manager, one of the things I loved most about Pulse was the real sense of community. There was a core group of galleries that were there at every fair that got along well. There was a vibe. I have a romantic notion to bring back that sense of community. I don’t think that you can ever replicate the past, but I’d certainly like to look to some of the galleries that were there at that time, as well as continue to build the fair’s new community of galleries. I loved the community spirit; everyone worked together to make the fair better.

    How did owning your own gallery influence your vision for the fair?

    Having a gallery for me was the best and most tough experience of my life. I completely understand for galleries just how difficult it is — the pain and the pleasure. You put so much time and effort in. Most of the Pulse galleries are not mega galleries, and they are run by small staffs, which I identify with. I want them to be able to make money, sustain their spaces, and be able to provide their artists with the money to maintain their practices. The art fairs are such an integral part now of sustaining a gallery.

    I’ve tried to recall my experiences and think about what kind of fair would I want to be part of as a gallerist. I know I’m not going to be able to change things over night; there is a lot to prove to some of the gallerists and visitors.

    What is your biggest hope for Frieze Week?

    I want people to come, and I don’t want the fair to wash over them. I don’t want them to just sail through, or not think or feel anything, and maybe that’s an idealized romantic way to think, because at the end of the day it’s a commercial avenue for galleries, it’s a sales tool primarily for selling, but that doesn’t mean that dialogue and relationships can’t be created, initialized, or grown upon.

    Helen Toomer

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