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    The Sanja Matsuri in Asakusa, Tokyo, is one of Japan’s most raucous traditional events.

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    The Sanja Matsuri in Asakusa, Tokyo, is one of Japan’s most raucous traditional events. A Shinto festival with its origins in the early 7th Century, it lasts three days, and attracts an estimated 1.5 – 2 million guests each year, this year culminating on Sunday May 18 in glorious sunshine.

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    Local residents dress in traditional yukata and festival-wear, with the event centered around 3 portable shrines known as “mikoshi.”

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    The festival ends with a hand-clapping ceremony at the shrine in Asakusa, known as Senso-ji, where the elaborately-decorated portable shrines are carried off before sunrise, at around 6 a.m.

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    The Sanja Festival (“three shrine festival”) is one of the three great Shinto festivals, along with the Sanno Festival at Hie Shrine, and the biannual Kanda Matsuri.

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    According to legend, two fisherman brothers, Hinokuma Hamanari and Hinokuma Takenari, discovered a statue of the Buddhist Bodhisattva Kannon statue caught in their net in 628, and were convinced by wealthy landlord Hajino Nakatomo to convert to Buddhism, establishing the Senso-ji Shrine.

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    Asakusa is one of Tokyo's top tourist attractions, and oldest districts, with a narrow shopping street leading to Senso-ji and its famous pagoda.

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    The festival is one of celebration, in which the usually quiet locals are able to cheer on the streets, chant, play instruments and bang taiko drums, as the shrines are carried around the neighborhood.

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    Each mikoshi costs around 40 million yen (around US$400,000) to make, and is covered in real gold leaf. They weight around 20 tons, requiring 40 people to hold them.

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    Around 100 smaller mikoshi are also made for women and children to carry around Asakusa on Saturday, the middle day of the festival.

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    Portable Shrines Bring 2 Million to Sanja Matsuri
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    Visitors to Mustang have been allowed since 1992, but are limited in order to protect the local Tibetan traditions and environment

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    Monks return to the city after performing ceremonies in a nearby field during the Tenchi Festival on May 27, 2014 in Lo Manthang, Nepal. The Tenchi Festival takes place annually in Lo Manthang, the capital of Upper Mustang and the former Tibetan Kingdom of Lo.

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    Monks chant from Tibetan scriptures during the Tenchi Festival on May 27, 2014 in Lo Manthang, Nepal. Each spring, monks perform ceremonies, rites, and dances during the Tenchi Festival to dispel evils and demons from the former kingdom.

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    A child stands for a portrait in a city alley before ceremonies begin for the Tenchi Festival on May 27, 2014 in Lo Manthang, Nepal. Once the Forbidden Kingdom of Mustang, it is still hidden away from most travellers, and lies just north of the Himalayas in Nepal.

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    The tsowo, or lead monk during the Tenchi ceremonies, performs ceremonial dances outside of the city gates during the Tenchi Festival on May 27, 2014 in Lo Manthang, Nepal. It is said that the land in Mustang is as "barren as a dead deer” but that “the soul of the man is still considered to be as real as the feet he walks on.”

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    The tsowo, or lead monk, performs dances during the final day of the Tenchi Festival on May 27, 2014 in Lo Manthang, Nepal. Mustang was part of the Tibetan Kingdom of Gungthang until the early 19th Century. The walled city of Lo Monthang, the unofficial capital of Mustang, is still today a kingdom within a kingdom.

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    Traditionally dressed representatives of Upper Mustang's villages prepare their antique guns before firing them to chase demons from the city during the Tenchi Festival on May 27, 2014 in Lo Manthang, Nepal. Lo Monthang’s king still holds his title, and since 1951 when the territory became part of Nepal, he also holds the honorary rank of Colonel in the Nepalese army.

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    Monks play dungchen, or Tibetan horns, on the final day of ceremonies during the Tenchi Festival on May 27, 2014 in Lo Manthang, Nepal. Visitors to Mustang have been allowed since 1992, but are limited in order to protect the local Tibetan traditions and environment.

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    Elaborately dressed monks perform ceremonial dances outside of the city gates during the Tenchi Festival on May 27, 2014 in Lo Manthang, Nepal. The region is known for its dry valleys, canyons, yak caravans, ochre valley, and colored mud-brick houses.

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    Monks play music and perform Buddhist ceremonies outside of the city gates during the Tenchi Festival on May 27, 2014 in Lo Manthang, Nepal. It is surrounded by the mountains of Nilgiri, Tukche, Annapurna and Dhaulagiri

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    Monks gather outside of the city's gates to perform a ceremony during the Tenchi Festival on May 27, 2014 in Lo Manthang, Nepal. The event is also known as “The chasing of the Demons,” and treks to the region can be organized by Mustang Trekking.

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    Lucky Few View Tibetan Tenchi Festival
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    Andreas Gursky's Painterly Point of View

    LONDON — Photography, Andreas Gursky has said, is not that important to him anymore. Instead, he was quoted by the Financial Times as saying he was more interested in a “painterly view.” This, coming from the creator of the most expensive photograph ever to be sold at auction (over $4 million), is quite a surprising statement. But, as one walks through the exhibition of new and recent work at White Cube, Bermondsey (through July 6), it begins to make sense.

    During the past decade, Gursky has been engaging with the history of painting. Earlier in his career the archetypal Gursky image presented mundane reality on such a colossal scale that it morphed into something at once banal and sublime.  There are some works of this kind in the White Cube exhibition, which amounts to a mini-retrospective of the artist’s work over the last seven years.

    “Quatar,” 2012, looks at first glance like a structure from a science fiction fantasy: a colossal chamber constructed out of gleaming strips of metal and resembling the interior of a futuristic Aztec temple. Then after a while you notice a tiny almost ghostly figure kneeling — in the act of praying or cleaning is not clear — towards the bottom left.

    In fact, this is a real place: a gigantic empty gas storage tank in a ship. In some ways, it is a throwback to Gursky’s beginnings. Born in 1955, he studied under Bernd and Hilla Becher — famous for their somber, black and white studies of industrial structures such as gas tanks — at the Dusseldorf Art Academy in the 1970s. But, unlike these teachers, Gursky is no longer a documentary photographer. The initial shot is only the starting-point, which is then edited, altered until in some cases it becomes a sort of digital collage. Thus “Beijing,” 2010, is based on the Olympic “Bird’s Nest” stadium, but transformed into a fantasia of jagged, angular geometry that might have been dreamt up by a Russian Constructivist in the 1920s.  

    Gursky’s “Bangkok” works from 2011 track in close to the surface of the Chao Phraya River in China. Of course, reflections of water were a theme of lyrical landscape painting from Turner to Monet, and are suggested by the shimmering surfaces of Gerhard Richter’s abstract paintings. Gursky evokes that tradition, until you notice stray items of floating garbage, and realize that the dancing colors on the dark waters are caused by oil slicks. So this is ecological lyricism with a sting.

    In some of the newest works on show, Gursky moves even further from sober reality. Some — the least satisfactory in the exhibition — deal with comic book heroes set in fantasy landscapes. In the dizzying “Lager,” 2013, or “stockroom” there is a vast stacking system of Bauhaus oblong units receding away to infinity from which various items protrude, including works by Gursky himself. Doubtless, this is a comment on art as commodity: the boundless warehouse of contemporary culture. It also suggests the infinite potential gradations between photograph and painting: the camera image edited to create the effects of a painting, the painting based on photography.

    Gursky’s own art is fascinatingly diverse, brilliant — and also somewhat chilly. No doubt that’s intentional, and part of the point. But it is also connected to his medium. However painterly his point of view, I can’t help feeling his work would be warmer and more sensually alluring if it were actually made of paint.  

    John Virtue’s exhibition “The Sea” at Marlborough Fine Art (through May 31) certainly can’t be faulted on that score. All the works on show, like everything Virtue does, are restricted to black and white. But the effect is not austere; on the contrary it emphasises the physicality of the images, built from flicks, flying dribbles, foam-like sprays and thick strokes of pigment, still bearing the marks of the bristles in the brush.


    A piece by John Virtue from his exhibition "The Sea." Courtesy Marlborough Fine Art

    Virtue shares subject matter — the turbid surface of water — with Gursky, and the two also have some reference points in common, such as American abstract expressionism. But what a difference there is between them. Where Gursky’s photographic world is cool, Virtue’s paintings are turbulent with compressed energy.

    All of them are based on observation of the churning waves on the Norfolk coast. Some are immediately identifiable as landscapes, but many at first glance look close to abstract. They come in various dimensions, from wall-sized down, but the best to my mind are the smallest, on sheets of immensely thick paper, like condensed emblems of natural energy.

    John Virtue’s work is also at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, through August 24.

    Andreas Gursky's "Tote Hosen II," 2014.

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    30 Rock Gets a Blooming Koons, Molesworth Heads to MOCA, and More

    — 30 Rock Gets a Flower-Clad Koons: Timed to coincide with the Jeff Koons Whitney retrospective opening on June 27, a giant sculpture by the artist is set to debut at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in the same spot where his 43-foot-tall “Puppy” stood 14 years ago. The 150-ton, 35-foot-high “Split-Rocker” sculpture will also be a flowering work covered in petunias, begonias, impatiens, geraniums, and marigolds, among others. “We couldn’t do any topiary at the Whitney, because there wasn’t any space,” Koons said. [NYT]

    — Molesworth Heads to MOCA: LA MOCA is steadily rebuilding its staff with the appointment of Helen Molesworth as its new chief curator. Molesworth, who has been at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston since 2010, is expected to start September 1. “I love the way she talks about art, thinks about art, writes about art,” said museum director Philippe Vergne. “She has an incredible connection with artists and audiences and patrons. She brings an incredible integrity and high level of scholarship and a passion for living artists. And she has a great sense of humor.” [LAT]

    — DIA Deals With Second Appraisal: Detroit city officials have informed bankruptcy judge Steven Rhodes that a second appraisal of the works in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts has begun. This new appraisal was spurred by claims that the Christie’s-generated estimate of $454 million to $867 million was too low. Some experts have valued the collection at $2 billion. [NYT]

    — Bourgeois House to Open Next Year: The 15-foot-wide Chelsea townhouse where Louise Bourgeois lived for the last 50 years of her life is slated to reopen as a research center, gallery, and sculpture garden that the public will be able to tour next year. [WSJ]

    — Street Art Museum Planned for London Underground: The group behind the “Stealing Banksy” auction that was cancelled at the last minute has announced new plans to open a street art museum in an abandoned London Underground station. [TAN]

    Meet LA’s Premier Art Lawyer: Joshua Roth is the newly appointed chair of MOCA’s Director’s Council and a legal advisor to Mark GrotjahnSterling Ruby, and Andrea Rosen, among others. [WSJ]

    — An upcoming show at the Dallas Museum of Art will look into the life of Ida O’Keeffe, the long overshadowed sister of Georgia. [NYT]

    — An interactive folding sculpture by Lygia Clark, whose retrospective just opened at MoMA, went for $1.2 million at Sotheby’s. [TAN]

    — Brook Hodge, currently of the Hammer Museum, is set to be the next deputy director of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. [LAT]

    ALSO ON ARTINFO

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    VIDEO: Takashi Murakami and Pico Iyer In Conversation

    VIDEO: Examining Lygia Clark and Her “Abandonment” at MoMA

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

    Jeff Koons's "Split-Rocker."

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    Bushwick Open Studios can be exhausting — just try poring through the 616 listings in the general directory without dying a bit on the inside. If you hit up only one event in the neighborhood this weekend, make it the NEWD Art Show, an expertly curated and concise presentation by nine exhibitors who’ve set up shop at 592 Johnson Avenue. NEWD organizers Kate Bryan and Kibum Kim said they aligned themselves with fairs like the Independent, Seven, and Spring/Break, and that same spirit shines through here in Bushwick. “The last thing the world needs is another art fair,” Kim admitted, but luckily NEWD is something more than that — more like a crash course in the neighborhood’s contemporary scene (with the option to buy).

    At the booth for Regina Rex— currently one of several galleries now homeless after a run-in with the landlord at 17-17 Troutman— sculptures by Dave Hardy shared the space with mixed-media paintings by EJ Hauser. Hardy’s works are all about material play — there are few people who can achieve such poetic effects with glass, foam, and other common materials. The small-scale work at the booth has an almost human pathos to it, and with it Hardy conjures a D.I.Y. image of the body in much the same way that Sarah Lucas does. Hauser, who originally trained as a sculptor, makes paintings and drawings that incorporate words or broken bits of text. While she no longer works in three dimensions, her paintings are still conceived as “piles of marks,” a gallerist explained.

    Signal gallery gave its booth over to three artists working within a sculptural frame. John Bianchi showed floor sculptures of painted-and-sanded MDF as well as incredible wall-pieces of foam and acrylic. The artist first traces out an intricate pattern on the foam’s surface in acrylic paint; he then blasts the surface with spraypaint, which chemically corrodes the areas of foam not coated in acrylic. The stark whiteness of the works pairs well with Hayden Dunham’s ceramic sculpture on the floor — a series of enigmatic forms resting on plain white tiles, with an eerie edge that reminded me of Mike Kelley’s “Lumpenprole.” Signal also had two works by Sophie Hirsch that must have been an epic struggle to transport and install — they’re massive, unwieldy things composed of latex-coated bubble wrap, rubber straps, an entire door, and other items — and abstract compositions of latex-house-painted wood and metal by Bennet Schlesinger.

    Other highlights (although there are shockingly few lowlights at NEWD): Holly Coulis’s gentle, arresting paintings at Sardine, which recall William Scott’s still life compositions; a Jon Rafman sculpture incorporating shirts printed with the image of David Hockney’s “Big Splash,” at American Medium; and Alex Eagleton’s installation of small paintings (and one tiny glass sculpture) at a booth curated by Marina T. Schindler.

    NEWD has a full schedule of talks planned from Friday through Sunday. Today at 2 p.m. Artspace’s Andrew Goldstein chats with Josh Baer and others about the “$1 Billion Contemporary Art Market,” and Saturday at 2 p.m. Franklin Boyd schools emerging artists on the potentials of negotiated resale rights (akin to an American version of the European droit de suite). Visitors should also treat the fair as a springboard to go see what the participating galleries have up at their brick-and-mortar locations — like the group show “Demo” at Signal; Ann Hirsch at American Medium; and Mitchell Wright at Sardine.

    The show’s organizers are hoping to bring in attendees from the far side of the river. It’s the fair’s inaugural year, so it’ll be interesting to see if that migration to the Jefferson stop actually happens — but collectors who place any value on new discoveries beyond Lucien Smith should certainly hop on the L train.

    NEWD Art Show Shines a Light On Bushwick
    A ceramic floor sculpture by Hayden Dunham

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    Highlights from This Year's NEWD Art Show

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    "From Here to There": Agnes Varda's Love Letter to Art and Life

    Part travelogue, part personal essay, Agnes Varda’s “From Here to There,” a five-part series that will screen in full at the Film Society of Lincoln Center on May 31, is a love letter to human interaction. Varda, at the age of 89, is one of cinema’s last remaining travelers, a persistent chronicler of the present whose camera eye is firmly rooted in the past.

    Varda is one of the most important and overlooked French directors, partly because she doesn’t fit squarely into any category. She is sometimes associated with the French New Wave of Truffaut and Godard, although her work is dissimilar, and is sometimes grouped in with the Left Bank group of filmmakers, even if that’s little more than a name to wrap around a lot of disparate cinematic voices. In truth, Varda stands alone, partly because she was the sole female cinematic figure in a male dominated French movement, and partly because her work has often, especially as she’s grown older, dealt directly with her personal life and experience in its explorations of memory.

    “From Here to There,” which acts as a sort of sequel to her 2008 film “The Beaches of Agnes,” is presented in five chapters of roughly 45 minutes, each detailing her journeys around the world meeting with artists and friends. Often the two are the same. Throughout the series, she spends time with the Spanish painter Miquel Barceló (“He may be the only painter who knows about caimans and termites,” Varda dryly remarks), the critic and curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist, and the 105-year-old Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira, who dons a bowler hat and cane and dances for the camera like Charlie Chaplin.

    There is little that links the sections together except for Varda’s meandering camera, which is both inquisitive and probing. Some of the most interesting sections see her walking through various museums around the world during her travels, as she lets her lens drift across the work, sometimes stopping on a piece that catches her eye and letting it act as a launching pad for another story, another question, another memory. A viewing of George Segal’s sculpture “Alice Listening to Her Poetry” brings forward a personal reflection on the grief that followed the death of Varda’s husband, the director Jacques Demy. A visit to the studio of reclusive friend and co-conspirator Chris Marker reveals a feverish array of materials piled to the ceiling, which Varda’s camera traces around the room and which she links to the densely layered visuals of his films.

    For Varda art and life are one in the same, and part of the joy of watching the infinitely enjoyable fragments of “From Here to There” ultimately is the way the two converge in surprisingly moving ways. Like the lemon tree that opens each episode, whose tall and lurking branches need to be cut, Varda remarks, because “its leaves were devouring our light,” Varda’s work of using the past to take a new look at the present is like an exquisite old plant that only needs a little fresh water to keep it alive. 

    Agnes Varda's "From Here to There"

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    Slideshow: At 99, Carmen Herrera is a Still-Rising

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    Dynamically liaising with a distinguished client base of elite private collectors, decision-making art consultants, corporate art consultants, curators, architects, interior designers and decorators, as well as prestigious business, government, diplomatic and social VIPs, AMSTERDAM WHITNEY Gallery pre-eminently affords the acquisitor the extraordinary opportunity to acquire the most carefully curated, Contemporary Masters in the global art market.  Known as "The Most Beautiful Gallery in Chelsea,” AMSTERDAM WHITNEY Gallery is strategically located in the "Heart of Chelsea" the unrivaled, influential global epicenter of the art world. Home to over 200 leading galleries and the Chelsea Museum of Art, Chelsea is the ultimate undisputed international art destination for the informed acquisitor, decision based consultant and accomplished artist. The cachet of Chelsea attracts prominent art visitors worldwide.   In quest of the "creme de la creme" of global contemporary artists, AMSTERDAM WHITNEY Gallery's criteria is to highlight and showcase in a curated museum-caliber ambiance, Contemporary Masters and interpret significant art movements, reflecting diverse trends and mediums including Painting, Sculpture, Photography, Collage, Drawing & Watercolor. Featuring contemporary Representational Figurative art to Abstract work, modern Surrealism to today's Neo Post Impressionism, Portraits to Abstract Expressionism, AMSTERDAM WHITNEY Gallery is the acknowledged definitive global art resource for the informed collector, cognoscenti and professional art consultant. Its museum-curated, influential monthly exhibitions afford the private collector and demanding art professional a stimulating museum forum environment to view outstanding art and acquire the most exciting, innovative talent of the present day art world. 
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    It’s a sadly common tale: Grand talent gets little promotion and support for the simple reason that it was forged by a woman. Fortunately, a serendipitous Google search can now correct such grievous gender bias. Which is what happened when curator Nigel Prince, during his stint with London’s Ikon Gallery, thought he was performing a search for Venezuelan artist Arturo Herrera, but the fiercely formalist paintings of Cuban-born Carmen Herrera appeared on-screen instead. Bowled over, Prince went on a steeplechase to locate the nonagenarian and dedicated his Pinta London booth to her. Toward the fair’s end, a dapper man persuaded the staff to pull the work back out of its crates as it was being packed. It was dealer Nicholas Logsdail, who asked to keep the paintings for a few months, then quickly placed them in collectors’ hands.

    Logsdail brought Herrera into his heavily male fold at Lisson Gallery and has prominently featured her work for the past three years. In winter 2010-11, her stark canvases were juxtaposed with those of Peter Joseph. The following year a solo show provided a retrospective of paintings from the 1940s onward, and last year saw an exhibition of her recent works on paper. Lisson has also had great success with her works at fairs—a Herrera canvas was the first to sell at the gallery’s booth at this year’s Armory Show, going for $160,000—a bit of a change for an artist whose work hadn’t seen much movement from 1950 until 2005, when Miami collector Ella Fontanals-Cisneros bought five pieces. The artist, who turns 99 on May 31, is preparing for a centennial exhibition at Lisson in London, slated for May 2015.

    “I never saw a straight line I didn’t like,” says Herrera, sitting in a self-imposed wheelchair in her New York home and studio beside two recently completed six-foot paintings with symmetrical sky-blue and white shapes. “I am very happy, but I would like to paint bigger,” she says. She is contemplating making it a triptych or even tetraptych. She forged her style in the 1930s—well before American Minimalism and outside Brazilian Constructivism, the movement championed by Lygia Clark and Mira Schendel that is currently being reexamined in gallery and museum exhibitions. “I have pictorial ideas,” Herrera explains. “There is a clarity and simplicity to geometry.” When one examines Tondo: Black and White, 1952, a composition of intersecting demilunes, or Blanco y Verde, 1959, a slip of a green triangle on a white field that was recently purchased by the Whitney Museum of American Art, the conviction of her painting is clear.

    Herrera stretches the theme of hard-edge geometries into different variations, often inspired by soul or wit, with titles offering clues to deeper meaning. Ayer, 1987,
painted as a pair with La hora, also 1987, features a black canvas with a jagged white line—time, she says. The
pieces compose a memorial to a couple with whom Herrera was close friends. After both men received a diagnosis of AIDS in the early years of the epidemic, they committed suicide together. More obvious is Escorial, 1974, so called for two reasons. “One, because it was a garbage dump
and now it is a royal palace,” says the artist of the location in Madrid. “And even more fun, El Escorial was designed as a symbol of Saint Lawrence, who was barbecued.” The artist, who once dreamed of being an architect, points with her wand-like fingers to the image, in which black rectangles are situated against white in an architectural grid. “And this,” she says slyly, “is a grill.”

    “Before I start the drawing,
I imagine what it will look like if it is yellow here, blue there, or yellow there and green here,” she says
of a method devoid of digital aids. “Then I try the colors out, and
the one I like better is the one I use.” From plotting to completion, the process to make a painting takes about three to four weeks. After sketching, she selects a drawing to explore, then paints the color scheme she’s debating
on paper, and then decides whether to commit to canvas. “I like to juxtapose shapes and colors
until they tell me to stop. Then
I know I have a painting,” she says. “The only thing that stops me is the frame.” Herrera has been painting since her 20s. “A woman at that time was nothing. They wouldn’t look at your work,” she says. That reaction checkered her early career. “I thought she was going to make me a show since she
was so ecstatic about my work,” says the artist of New York gallerist Rose Fried. “But she said, ‘Carmen, I have to
tell you the truth, you can paint round and round the men I have, but I’m not going to give you a show because you are a woman.’ I realized then how terrible discrimination is.”

    Alas, “I was driven,” Herrera chuckles. “And my husband said, ‘Either paint or don’t.’” That is exactly what Herrera does. “Every morning, I go to my drawing table,” she says. Her home studio is populated by an ever-rotating cast of canvases, often settled between her sun-soaked desk area and her kitchen and dining room, where her drawings hang for her to contemplate over a meal on a long walnut table. The top-floor live-work space also serves as a location for shoots with filmmaker Alyson Klayman for an upcoming documentary. Her 19th Street neighbors have included such fellow artists as Barnett Newman, Leon Polk Smith, Stephen Shore, and currently the chair of El Museo del Barrio, Tony Bechara. “She’s a conservative Cuban lady,” says Bechara of the artist, who holds her own with men not only in the exhibition arena but also at the afterparty. His role as her best friend since the 1960s has expanded to that of de facto business manager—it was he who unwrapped Herrera’s paintings for Logsdail.

    She has lived in her residence since 1968, sharing it with her husband, Jesse Lowenthal, a German Jew from the South Bronx who taught literature at Stuyvesant High School. (Lowenthal was featured in colleague and novelist Frank McCourt’s memoir Teacher Man: “What he did with a sentence and a piece of chalk would stun you.”) The two met and married while he was on a trip to Havana in 1938, and she uprooted her life to live with him in New York. The couple remained inseparable until Lowenthal died in 2000. “We became closer and closer, and by the end we were one person,” Herrera recalls.

    Artistically, “I have never been influenced by anybody alive,” she contends, although she nods allegiance to Frank Lloyd Wright and the Bauhaus. She also notes her fondness of certain artists: Francisco de Zurbarán, Piet Mondrian, Georgia O’Keeffe, Stuart Davis, and Ben Nicholson, along with Polk Smith and Newman, who were her close friends.

    She loves to tell the story about the time “Barney” applied for a position teaching art
at Stuyvesant with Lowenthal, whom he befriended at City College. “He
couldn’t pass the exam!” Herrera
recounts gleefully. “Annalee
[his wife] said, ‘When I
married you, you were a
painter, not a teacher.
If you become a
teacher, I’m out!’”
Ironically, the artists,
who had breakfast
together every morning for
years, “never talked about painting”—perhaps a clue as to
why she eschews any association with
other artists’ practices. “I don’t have any books about Picasso in my house. They’re dangerous because he’s so powerful,” she says of his extensive influence. “Before you know it, you’re doing a Picasso.”

    Herrera’s father founded El Mundo, the Havana-
based newspaper, and her reporter mother operated a perfume business on the side. “I don’t know why I was born in Cuba,” the artist remarks. “I should have been born
in Paris.” In fact, she was a high school student in Paris at the Marymount School before returning to Havana after the stock market crash of 1929. Before being ripped from
the French capital, she often could be found in Montmartre watching Edith Piaf, Josephine Baker (“Magnificent, and also indecent! She was on the stage almost naked”), or Carlos Gardel (“The women were crazy about him. The only problem was that he was a little bit gay”).

    Returning to Cuba during a period of tumult, which saw the overturning of one dictator, Gerardo Machado, for another, Fulgencio Batista, Herrera never completed her studies. However, when not bailing her five brothers out of jail for political dissent, she painted and had her first major exhibition in 1937. The works were hung on trees in Havana’s Parque de Albear. Amid a sea of male artists, Herrera offered a depiction of Christ’s head on a swastika, rare in her oeuvre for its political and figurative content. Another participant was Wifredo Lam, a once-close friend who turned on her when she asked him to repay one of the many favors she had done him, including smuggling canvases into the United States.


    Herrera in 1937 [Courtesy of Kristen Larsen]

    Herrera and Lowenthal lived in Paris from 1948 to 1953. There she continued to develop her style, including Black and White, 1952, optical black-and-white stripes that form triangles, now held by the Museum of Modern Art in New York. From 1949
to 1952, Herrera’s work was included in the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, a juried survey of abstraction in Europe. Participation was a turning point for Herrera. “In order to be in Réalités Nouvelles, you had to bring your work to a group of people who would decide if they will take it or not,” she explains. “I went to show the work, and this guy said, ‘I like it very much, madame. There are many paintings here, but there is too much in one painting.’ And that was the beginning of the awakening process.”

    In Paris, the couple socialized with Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir and showed American friends like Mark Rothko around town. “I’ve never met anyone so depressed,” Herrera says of Rothko. “We tried everything! Take him to the theater, to dinner, to our house to show him how an artist lived—no reaction to anything. Completely like he was in black.”

    Back in New York, Willem de Kooning, Philip Pavia, Newman, and Rothko “had no reaction to my work” she says. “I didn’t go for what they were doing. They didn’t want to know what I was doing. A Cuban? A woman? Feh.” But Herrera did manage to be seen over the decades, with a solo retrospective at the Museo del Barrio in 1989 and gallery shows with Frederico Seve and Francisco Cisneros. Perhaps such adversity has driven Herrera’s practice. “It’s the only thing in this world that in my whole long life I have a power over,”
she exclaims, banging the table with her fists. “My husband, my friends, nobody gives me any poder. Not even my cat pays attention to me!” Bechara gasps. “I’ve never heard her say that before.” Time has a way of outing the truth. But it looks like finally, in her 10th decade, the attention is flooding in, buoying her star.

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

    At 99, Carmen Herrera Is a Still-Rising Star
    Carmen Herrera's centennial exhibition at Lisson in London next spring.

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    Review: "Smart New World" at Kunsthalle Dusseldorf

    DUSSELDORF, Germany — In an essay published this April, media theorist Geert Lovink asserts, “The Snowden revelations in June 2013 mark the symbolic closure of the ‘new media era.’ The NSA scandal has taken away the last remains of cyber-naivety and lifted the ‘Internet issue’ to the level of world politics. The integration of cybernetics into all aspects of life is a fact.” And yet, simultaneously, a group of primarily New York-based artists and critics debated the validity of the term post-Internet and the quality of the work produced under its auspices in a rather insular conversation that took place primarily on Facebook, Twitter, and Gchat. The two conversations are not closed off from one another but differ in their urgency and their sense of scope.

    “Smart New World” (through August 10), an exhibition at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf curated by Elodie Evers and Magdalena Holzhey as part of the program for the third Düsseldorf Quadriennale, draws from a young base of Internet-engaged artists: Tabor Robak, Xavier Cha, Aleksandra Domanovic. Their work is cast in a distinctly post-Snowden light—literally, the Kunsthalle’s interior swathed in ominous gray shadows for the occasion. The show is indebted to an arguably very justified sci-fi-inflected political paranoia, as its Brave New World-referencing title suggests, that’s frequently reflected in the works. The museum ticketing desk, for example, has been transformed into an interactive performance of sorts by the International Necronautical Society (INS) collective, who require that visitors sign a contract whose terms include “The Visitor’s being is not individual but dividual” and “Illusion is a revolutionary weapon.” The piece, and the relative humorlessness with which it’s carried out, is both opaque and heavy-handed, but it certainly sets the tone.

    Indeed, much of the work deals explicitly with state organizations, especially the American military. Some of the artists experience very real anxiety at the hands of these institutions. Snowden contact Laura Poitras is on a Homeland Security watch list, thanks to her post-9/11 filmic examinations of U.S. counterterrorism programs. Her chillingly banal video Mission Data Repository, Utah, USA, 2014, documents the construction of a $1.7 billion, 1 million-square-foot NSA surveillance warehouse. Similarly, in Every Picture Is an Empty Picture, 2014, one of an excellent trio of longer films set in black-box spaces, German artist Christoph Faulhaber catalogs a decade of his often-eccentric experiments, which involve impersonating private security personnel and circulating portraits of high-security prisoners of the war on terror. As we see in the film, these actions place him on watch lists and cause him to lose the sponsorship of European art institutions. They also appear at moments to wreak havoc on his psychological well-being. Exaggerated as these events seem, they’re versions of conditions all citizens of this image-saturated surveillance society are susceptible to.

    Particularly in the context of the Quadriennale, which has selected “utopia” as one of the group of buzzwords describing its theme, this dark assortment of works feels refreshing, if not reassuring. Kenneth Goldsmith’s Papers from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 2014, is a particularly well-placed twist—his attempt to print out 33 gigabytes worth of academic papers from JSTOR, downloaded from Pirate Bay, is utopian in its reach toward the free transmission of knowledge. But the installation doubly serves as a monument to deceased open-source activist Aaron Swartz, a bittersweet reminder of the legal and corporate limits placed on such gestures. An educated audience could take anxiety about the surveillance state for granted, but this exhibition groups artists who are willing to approach systems so vast they seem impossible to conceive of, let alone resist. Not quite activist art in any traditional sense, nor aligned with the au courant smartass breed of Net art, what’s assembled here at its best borrows the respective urgency and sense of humor from these two genres, generating art that resonates outside the post-Internet echo chamber.

    A version of this article appears in the July/August 2014 issue of Modern Painters magazine.  

    Trevor Paglen's photo of "National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, Springfield,

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    "Smart New World" at Kunsthalle Düsseldorf

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    Abramovic to Hit Jersey, Bacon Institute to Open in Monaco, and More

    — Bacon Institute to Open in Monaco: Property developer Majid Boustany, who has collected more than 2,000 Francis Bacon-related objects, plans to open an institute in Monaco this October devoted to the scholarly study of the painter. Called the Francis Bacon MB Art Foundation, it will house a library, photographs, oil paintings, and objects from Bacon’s stint as an interior designer. “Although few people know of Bacon’s time in Monaco, there is a legitimate reason for housing the Bacon Foundation in the principality,” Boustany said. “It was in Monaco that Bacon really began to concentrate on painting the human form, a crucial step that would lead him later in his life to become one of the greatest figurative British postwar artists.” [The Guardian]

    — Rembrandt Thief Arrested: Patrick Vialaneix, who stole Rembrandt’s “Child with a Soap Bubble” from the Draguignan Museum in 1999, has been arrested and faces up to 10 years in jail after attempting to sell the work. Vialaneix claims to have been obsessed with the work since he first saw it as a child. “I was both its guardian and its hostage,” he said. [Telegraph]

    — Abramovic to Hit Jersey City: Jersey City’s labyrinthine Mana Contemporary arts complex has announced a partnership with the Marina Abramovic Institute. The first collaborative event will be a 72-hour-straight Abramovic method workshop at Mana from October 17 to 19. Mana has also invited the performance artist to create a permanent workshop housed in their building. [Press Release]

    — Tehran Auction Shows a Healthy Market: A very successful Tehran Art Auction proves that the Iranian art scene is flourishing, despite US sanctions on the country’s richest sectors. [Reuters]

    — Art Trucks Roll Out: More and more mobile art galleries are taking to the road apparently. [NYT]

    — Will Poroshenko Support the Arts: Ukraine’s new president Petro Poroshenko may end up being a supporter of contemporary art in the region. [TAN]

    — 77-yr-old ceramics artist Stan Bitters is finally getting his due. [T Magazine]

    — deviantART wants to become the administrator of the .art domain. [Tech Crunch]

    — The Bristol Banksy was valued at £400,000 on Antiques Roadshow. [Telegraph]

    ALSO ON ARTINFO

    NEWD Art Show Shines a Light On Bushwick

    Andreas Gursky’s Painterly Point of View

    At 99, Carmen Herrera Is a Still-Rising Star

    Review: “Smart New World” at Kunsthalle Dusseldorf

    VIDEO: Hugo McCloud Takes His Place in the Art World

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

    Marina Abramovic.

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    “It doesn’t really make sense — but why not?” said Adam Lindemann when asked why his Upper East Side gallery, Venus Over Manhattan, is hosting “LIFE,” a celebratory exhibition to mark the 10-year history of the Journal Gallery, a decidedly Brooklyn-based art institution. “The Journal Gallery has great energy; summer shows can be dull; this was a way to bring fresh, new work to the stodgy U.E.S.; and younger people are interested in seeing new names and new work.”

    The Journal Gallery kicked things off in 2004 with a group show titled “How Soon Is Now?,” including Tim Barber, Dan McCarthy, Deanna Templeton, and others. The original location was a venue at 619 E. 6th Street in the East Village. It was intended as an extension of the Journal, a magazine that Michael Nevin and Julia Dippelhofer had launched years before. “We wanted to present artists and projects featured within the publication’s pages, and to create a physical space open for conversations,” explained Nevin and Dippelhofer via email. “As the gallery, now in its third location, developed over the years, we were conscious of having fun, and keeping the original approach intact: that the art comes first.”

    Following their gut instincts has paid off, both in terms of critical reception and, incidentally, the market. As the work spotlighted in “LIFE” demonstrates, the Journal Gallery has long been in tune with the new wave of abstraction, showing people who have since exploded onto the art world’s radar: Michael Williams (who shows with both CANADA and Michael Werner Gallery); Dan Rees (whose work is coveted enough to earn him the questionable distinction of “flippers’ favorite” in a recent New York Times piece on the rabid contemporary auction scene); and Joe Bradley (who currently has an enormous painting hanging in the ground-floor lobby of the Museum of Modern Art). Other artists represented in “LIFE” — from Eddie Martinez to Rita Ackermann, Sam Moyer, and Graham Collins— certainly aren’t suffering from a lack of plaudits, or sales. In retrospect, it’s almost uncanny how solid the Journal Gallery’s eye has been, and how quickly the market followed suit. Perhaps that further explains this exhibition’s siting in a neighborhood far from the gallery’s inception: While much of the art may have been made in Williamsburg, or Bushwick, or more remote parts of Brooklyn, it now comes with a decidedly Upper East Side price tag.

    As Nevin and Dippelhofer explained, the gallery has ongoing relationships with its artists that have developed over its decade of operation. We asked the duo to share some specific recollections, and they described meeting Jeff Zilm (now one of four officially represented artists), who will show at the Journal Gallery in September: “His studio was inside a maze of an old autobody shop in Dallas, with florescent lighting, and music by D Edwards playing in the background. The paintings we saw that day were from his series made from black-and-white films like ‘Nosferatu’ and the W.C. Fields comedy ‘The Bank Dick.’ He had stripped the emulsion in a chemical bath, creating ‘pigment,’ and applied it onto the canvas through a compressor. Each film is destroyed and preserved at the same time, compressed into a single abstract picture.”

    Regarding their 2012 Jeff Elrod exhibition “Echo Paintings,” Dippelhofer and Nevin called it “one of those moments where everything clicked, and we knew that there was something special. He’d been making these paintings for years — works that express a human-made/machine-made duality, which were in a sense ahead of their time.” (Elrod has most recently exhibited in a buzzy solo at Luhring Augustine in Chelsea, earlier this year.)

    Sarah Braman shows with both CANADA and Mitchell-Innes & Nash and will have a work in this fall’s “Broadway Morey Boogie,” a series of public works on the Broadway Mall organized by Marlborough Chelsea. She’s one of two sculptors represented in “LIFE.” Her work “incorporates a sensibility for light, space and color in such a way that the found materials used in her sculptural works take on new meanings,” Nevin and Dippelhoffer said, citing Braman’s piece in the Venus Over Manhattan show, titled “In My Mind I’m Gone,” which sandwiches a lowly filing cabinet between two empty vitrines of colored Plexiglas.

    Graham Collins (represented by the Journal Gallery), makes minimalist pieces of wood, glass, and other materials that waver between painting and sculpture. He showed with the Journal Gallery for the first time in September 2013. “Graham and his work have become so much a part of our lives that it’s hard to believe that we met him only one year ago. In some ways taking cues from Arte Povera and Semina, Graham’s work functions very much within a distinct space holding other artists of the generation, like Sam Moyer and Dan Rees,” Nevin and Dippelhofer said. “Good company.”

    “LIFE” is on view at Venus Over Manhattan through July 26. A solo exhibition by Daniel Hesidence is at the Journal Gallery in Williamsburg through June 27.

    Williamsburg on the Upper East Side?
    The Journal Gallery at Venus Over Manhattan

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    Pauline M'barek's "The Tangible Border"

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    DUSSELDORF, Germany — An odd and inherently dramatic exhibition space, Kunst im Tunnel is located in a sloping underground hollow between two traffic tunnels off a riverside promenade. For her site-specific commission for the Düsseldorf Quadriennale (through August 10), Pauline M’Barek, a young multimedia artist born in nearby Cologne, uses the location’s architecture to great effect. A Möbius strip­­-like path made of tape has been drawn onto the concrete space, tracing its tapered contours in a loping figure eight and guiding viewers into the gallery’s all-but-pitch-black corners. Around the path are black-and-white videos projected onto the walls and a selection of plaster objects. With the space lit primarily through the video projections and spotlights on the sculptures, the room takes on a gray scale tone.

    Despite the aesthetic severity of the works on view, touch and intimacy are recurring themes. An intense physicality pervades the pieces. The 90 spiny curiosities that make up the sculpture Artefacts, arranged on a backlit shelf as if on view in a natural history museum are, upon closer look, roughly finished but eerily sensual plaster casts of cupped hands, with the relief of the plaster poured into the palms. The video Void also deals with hands, material, and negative space, depicting a pair of disembodied hands throwing a clay pot. The simple procedure develops into a stark performance when depicted in such austere lighting; the intermittent, sometimes jarring sounds of the clay slapping against the pottery wheel and fingers running along its perimeters fill the gallery space. Using human form and modest materials, M’barek has created a space that, despite its otherworldliness, centers the viewer in her own body.  

    A version of this article appears in the July/August 2014 issue of Modern Painters magazine.

    Review: Pauline M’Barek at Dusseldorf's Kunst im Tunnel
    An installation view of Pauline M'barek's "The Tangible Border" at Kunst Im Tunn

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    London has long been held up as the pinnacle of diversity – a city that feels more like a collection of small towns than a homogenous whole. Cross over from west to east, and you would be forgiven for thinking you’d travelled to an entirely different town. This is why it has been held up as one of the world’s most happening and vibrant cities, with residents regularly quoting Samuel Johnson’s assertion that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” Because of the sheer amount of things to do and see, navigating London can often be a daunting prospect for visitors. Fortunately, Masterpiece London CEO, Nazy Vassegh, knows the city like the back of her hand, and has the key to the most interesting hotspots in all the boroughs.

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    London has long been held up as the pinnacle of diversity – a city that feels more like a collection of small towns than a homogenous whole. Cross over from west to east, and you would be forgiven for thinking you’d travelled to an entirely different town. This is why it has been held up as one of the world’s most happening and vibrant cities, with residents regularly quoting Samuel Johnson’s assertion that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” Because of the sheer amount of things to do and see, navigating London can often be a daunting prospect for visitors. Fortunately, Masterpiece London CEO, Nazy Vassegh, knows the city like the back of her hand, and has the key to the most interesting hotspots in all the boroughs.

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    VICTORIA & ALBERT MUSEUM

    Vassegh also has a soft spot for the Victoria & Albert Museum, because of its impressive collection of decorative art. “I never tire of visiting this beautiful museum,” Vassegh explains. “It is one of London’s greatest cultural treasures.”

    Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

     +44 20 7942 2000

    vam.ac.uk

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    Sculpture gallery at the V&A
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    SIR JOHN SOANE’S MUSEUM

    Although she favors modern and contemporary art institutions, Vassegh’s top architecture spot is the Victorian-era Sir John Soane’s Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, surrounding which you will find London’s traditional legal district: a collection of barristers’ chambers, the nearby Royal Courts of Justice, and the world-famous Inns of Court. “Built by the renowned neo-classical architect John Soane,” Vassegh says, “the beautiful building and its interiors have remained intact since the time of his death in 1837.”

    13 Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC2A 3BP,

     +44 20 7405 2107

    soane.org

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    SCOTT'S

    The Lemon Sole at Scott’s, a seafood restaurant and champagne bar on Mount Street, is a must have, according to Vassegh, which she recommends be complemented with a glass of Rully Blanc. “Scott’s is an essential on the dining repertoire of celebrities and art world figures,” she muses.

    20 Mount St, London W1K 2HE

    +44 20 7495 7309

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    THE PROVIDORES AND TAPA ROOM

    Outside of Mayfair, Vassegh also rates The Providores and Tapa Room as a must-try. “This Marylebone Village gem offers innovative fusion cuisine in a stylish, yet low-key environment.” Because the small plates are easy for sharing, she recommends this as “the perfect spot” to go over with friends or loved ones.
     

    109 Marylebone High Street, London W1U 4RX

    +44 (0) 20 7935 6175

    theprovidores.co.uk

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    THE ARTS CLUB

    Having spent more than 23 years in the London art world – first at Sotheby’s, then as an independent consultant and CEO of Masterpiece – it is only natural that Mayfair figures as one of her favorite neighborhoods. It is one of her preferred destinations for eating, specifically The Arts Club on Dover Street, which makes Vassegh’s list “for their elegant atmosphere, great drinks and consistently fabulous menus.”

    40 Dover Street Mayfair London W1S 4NP

    +44 020 7499 8581

    theartsclub.co.uk

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    With its décor inspired by English Cubism and the Irish 1920s, The Connaught Bar at the Connaught Hotel, is “effortlessly chic” and has an artistic vibe, Vassegh feels, while she also favors the Radio Rooftop Bar at the Hotel ME London, a tenth-floor spot offering panoramic views of the capital: “a perfect location for a cocktail on a warm summer evening.”

    THE CONNAUGHT

    Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1K2AL + 44 (0)207499707

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    336-337 The Strand, London WC2R 1HA

    +44 808 234 1953

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    CLARIDGE’S

    Vassegh favourite spot to stay is Claridge’s. “A truly glamorous London experience, this hotel has been favored by royalty and the most distinguished international figures since (its) opening in the early 19th Century,” She explains.

    49 Brook St, London W1K 4HR

    +44 20 7629 8860

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    BOROUGH MARKET

    Vassegh’s favourite area of London is Borough Market, both for the gastronomy as well as the atmosphere. “Interacting with all of the people in the market makes for a lively Saturday afternoon and leaves you inspired to cook up something different,” she says. Laidback yet always buzzing, Borough Market remains one of the top food destinations for Londoners. Wandering through the market, you may chance upon a cuisine you’ve never tried before – a good way to keep city dwellers on their toes. “Sampling all of the delicious delicacies as you go along is also part of the fun,” Vassegh adds.

    8 Southwark St, London SE1 1TL, United Kingdom

    +44 20 7407 1002

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    Borough Market
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    Vassegh’s taste in London-style shopping, another much-touted reference point for the city, is a slightly more eclectic mix of east and west London. She picks both haute couture fashion house Prada, and Start, an east London boutique on Rivington Street: “a go-to place for finding that special designer piece.”

    PRADA

    16-18 Old Bond Street

    + 44 2076475001

    START

    42-44 Rivington St, London EC2A 3QP, United Kingdom

    +44 20 7729 3334

    start-london.com

     

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    REGENT’S PARK

    And when the vibe gets overwhelming at times, the city offers solace too, she feels. “London has lots of great hideaways when you need a break from the hustle and bustle.” It is easy enough to disappear into anonymity in the midst of London’s medieval streets, but Vassegh’s favored spot for peace and quiet is Queen Mary’s Garden in Regent’s Park. “Located right in the centre of the park, the rose gardens here are some of the most magnificent I’ve ever seen.” Among Vassegh’s favourites also are the Battersea Park and The Chelsea Physic Garden, but head to Victoria Park on the bank of Regent’s Canal for a glimpse of east end charm.

     

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    The Tastemaker: Nazy Vassegh Guide to London
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    Polly Apfelbaum Gets Up Off the Floor

    “I like it because it’s not normal,” said Polly Apfelbaum of her exhibition “A Handweaver’s Pattern Book,” at Clifton Benevento through August 8. While the pieces in the show are made using fairly simple materials — markers, string, ceramics, and textiles — the artist has conceived of her installation as a hybrid of forms: a drawing; a painting; a book whose pages have been removed and hung on the walls. The exhibition is composed of 50 ink-on-rayon works, arranged in rows, and a series of glazed ceramic beads suspended from colored strings that hang from the existing sprinkler pipes on Clifton Benevento’s ceiling.

    Apfelbaum has spent much of her career exploring the terrain beneath our feet, arranging fabrics in intriguing constellations and configurations. Last year she lived in Rome, as a resident with the American Academy, and treated her time there as a personal reset, a chance to think anew about the practice she’s been fine-tuning since her early shows in the mid-’80s. Her first solo exhibition in New York since her return from Italy is a testament to some of those considerations abroad, not in the least because the focus is on the walls, not the floor. Apfelbaum’s current body of work was born from the 1944 craft book from which she borrowed the title of her exhibition, though she did not directly reference any of the patterns contained therein. “I liked the idea of coming up with all my own,” she said. “Somebody sat down and collected those [patterns] — it’s a history of weaving — but I loved reinventing it for myself.” For starters, there’s no actual weaving involved, as the textile works are made by letting the tips of Chartpak markers press and bleed into the fabric through an informal stencil: a punch-card of unknown provenance and utility that Apfelbaum found in a craft store. That punch-card provided a framework and a way of working that was then disrupted or challenged by Apfelbaum’s own daily whims and moods. “They’re idiosyncratic,” she said of the textile drawings. “There are systems, but there’s no system.” As such she considers the resulting pieces to be “conceptual weavings,” as well as “patterns of thought.” The markers leave varying traces depending on if they’re fresh out of the box or running low on ink.

    There’s a rich variety among the 50 works: bluish monochromes; colorful grids that coalesce and then fall apart; vertical columns interspersed with primary tones. (There are around 150 colors of Chartpak available, and Apfelbaum reckoned she used them all.) Certain corners and edges of the fabrics have missing chunks, from where previous customers cut samples. Apfelbaum intends the fabric works to interact with the suspended beads, which she made by hand. (Rosaries were on her mind, she noted, after her Italian sojourn.) “There are two different grids going on,” Apfelbaum said of the interplay between the works. “It makes it much more site-specific and situational, which is what I’m interested in: It’s not just a drawing show, it’s an installation. It makes you physically conscious. You come in and feel the color and material; it activates the whole room since you have to walk around it — you can’t just stare. You’re walking in a painting.”

    A painting, mind you, that can also be read like a book, bringing the exhibition back to its roots in the 1944 volume that had lingered on Apfelbaum’s shelf until it caught her eye. Bookmaking has long been a sideline of the artist’s practice, and some examples of those projects are on hand at Clifton Benevento — including a nearly foot-thick survey of her studio experience in Rome, bound together in the manner of an enormous pad of Post-It notes. For “A Handweaver’s Pattern Book,” Apfelbaum has printed the individual works on fabric paper; when I spoke with her, she was still determining the best way to bind those delicate pages.


    Apfelbaum at her installation in Clifton Benevento / [Photo by: Scott Indrisek]

    Wandering through the installation, Apfelbaum bounced from one of the 50 fabric works to another, picking out personal favorites. She has an affection for some of the monochromatic pieces; she pauses at one work — a bit rawer, perhaps — that one of her studio assistants enigmatically described as being very “South Philly.” She pointed out works with intricate diamond patterns that start quite orderly before becoming scrambled in the mid-section. And she stressed that these are works meant for the wall — she wouldn’t, for instance, be able to lay them on the floor, as in previous installations — and that they are meant to work in tandem with the hanging beads, which she envisions as “a mark that could have popped off” from one of the drawings into space. She’s fond of the setting that Clifton Benevento provides for the work — the space has a lived-in, domestic feel, thanks to an inset bookshelf lining one wall, and Apfelbaum said that it reminds her of her own downtown loft, where the works were originally arrayed.

    “I think it’s going to be really exciting to live in this space and figure it out,” she said, referring not to the gallery itself, of course, but to the new way of working that she’s discovered. “I think these works have the kind of simplicity that is interesting for me in the art I like, and the art I want to make. We’ll see what their life is,” she said. “Over the years it was hard getting people to the floor, and understanding. It was a whole focus about that. I love changing and seeing other things, stretching a little. That’s really what this show is about: Shaking it up.”

    Polly Apfelbaum's "A Handweaver's Pattern Book" at Clifton Benevento

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    Rosen’s Hirst Rankles Neighbors, Bacon Triptych Up For Grabs, and More

    — Rosen’s Hirst Rankles Neighbors: Collector Aby Rosen has rankled his Old Westbury, New York neighbors by installing Damien Hirst’s 33-foot-tall statue “The Virgin Mother” on his front lawn. The village is considering a new law that would limit sculptures to 25 feet in an effort to bring down the painted bronze sculpture of a pregnant woman with an exposed fetus. “It is out of character with the neighborhood,” the village’s mayor, Fred Carillo, said. [NYT]

    — Triptych of Bacon’s Lover Heads to Auction: This summer, Sotheby’s London will offer up a triptych of portraits by Francis Bacon of his lover George Dyer during its flagship evening contemporary art sale. The rare series is likely the first in which Bacon used photographs by his friend John Deakin as source material. The paintings, which have been part of the same collection since 1970, are coming to auction now for the first time ever and are estimated at £15-20 million. “Painted less than a year after their first encounter, ‘Three Studies for Portrait of George Dyer’ marks both the height of Bacon’s affair with Dyer and the zenith of his achievement in portraiture,” said Oliver Barker, Sotheby’s senior international specialist in contemporary art. [Art Daily]

    — China Detains Artist For Tiananmen Work: Chinese-Australian artist Guo Jian has been arrested in China after discussing his Tiananmen Square-commemorating artwork in an interview. Approximately 50 people have disappeared or been detained in the weeks leading up to the 25th anniversary of the massacre, according to rights groups. “The Australian embassy in Beijing has contacted Chinese authorities to seek further information on the reported detention of Mr. Guo Jian and to underline our strong interest in the matter,” said a spokesman for the Australian department of foreign affairs and trade. “The Australian government stands ready to extend all possible consular assistance to Mr. Guo.” [The Guardian]

    — National Academy Museum Faces Layoffs: The National Academy Museum and School has laid off senior curator Bruce Weber as well as its two registrars, a marketing director, and a building manager. Carmine Branagan, the National Academy’s director, says the layoffs were financial, but close sources claim the firings were due to disagreements over the promotion of Maurizio Pellegrin to creative director. [GalleristNY]

    — Protests at Hollande’s Musée Soulages: Violent protests and a brief hostage standoff occurred when French President François Hollande visited the new Musée Soulages last Friday in Rodez. [TAN]

    — Rosie the Riveter’s Factory Gets a Museum: The Detroit factory where the real life Rosie the Riveter worked during World War II, Willow Run, is in final negotiations to be the new home for the Yankee Air Museum. [Crain’s Detroit]

    — A judge has dismissed two cases against the NYPL, now resolved since the institution abandoned the renovation plans in question. [NYT]

    — FIAC has announced the galleries that will participate in its 2014 edition. [AiA]

    — Anselm Franke has been named as the chief curator of the 2014 Shanghai Biennale. [Artforum]

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