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    When it comes to jewelry, old is gold. Part of the longstanding allure of estate jewelry, particularly, is not just the history and provenance of the pieces, but also the delicacy of their design and manufacture, as well as the knowledge that in the contemporary context, you have a unique piece of work on your hands.

    This weekend, from June 21-22, Heritage Auctions is holding its Fine & Decorative Arts Auction online, featuring a selection of estate jewelry from various sources, even including well-known jewelry designers such as Lalounis, McTiegue, Cartier and David Yurman.

    To view Blouin Lifestyle’s picks from the auction, click on the slideshow.

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    BLOUIN Lifestyle Pick: Estate Jewelry
    A cameo brooch depicting Artemis and a cherub
    Courtesy Heritage Auctions

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    Berlin-based film historian and critic Marc Glöde, known in the art world for his work as a curator and senior advisor of Art Berlin Contemporary, has curated the Film section at Art Basel since 2008. He is interested in filmic works that take an experimental approach to the moving image, and in his selection this year, featuring artists like Jan Peter Hammer, he is focusing particularly on socially engaged works. He spoke to Artinfo about his approach and process as a curator, and what excites him about his chosen medium.

    You’ve curated this section in cooperation with Swiss collector This Brunner. How do you work together and what was your selection process like?

    We always work in very separate areas of film. This year, This Brunner is curating a program that focuses on documentary and art-house films; I'm working largely with experimental works.

    As for the process — first galleries exhibiting in the show submit applications, which I then go through. Based on this, I put together programs that have (A) a certain theme, like this year’s program "Thinking About the Aftermaths," which deals with questions concerning different historic nuclear fallouts, or (B) a focus on a body of work by one artist, such as this year’s programs on Harun Farocki, Manon de Boer, and Pat O'Neill.

    You’ve highlighted three artists on the Website — Manon de Boer, Jan Peter Hammer and the Brazilian duo João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva. Why do you think visitors should definitely see their movies? What makes their works so special to you?

    I'm very excited that Film this year is opening with a program of works by Jan Peter Hammer, including his film “The Anarchist Banker.” As you can guess from the title, it considers aspects of the financial crisis. Using this work as a starting point is important to me; it demonstrates how even as a platform for market activity, Art Basel is committed to including films that raise critical questions concerning developments in society. 

    You’ve curated short films for the fair with Hammer. How did you meet him and why did you bring him to the fair?

    As I mentioned, this film was very important for the whole program. Until now I have not had the chance to meet Jan in person, which is why I am all the more excited to meet him in Basel this year and talk about his newest films, as well as about the criticality in his work.

    Jan Peter Hammer and Marc Glöde

    Are you also interested in other mediums, like painting, sculpture or photography?

Of course! I have also curated exhibitions that were not film related at all, such as a first European overview exhibition on the history of slide projection in the arts in Knokke, Belgium. Recently I curated a series of exhibitions called, “(Re-)Locating the Self,” including site specific installation works by Channa Horwitz, Carl Andre, Lawrence Weiner, Peter Downsbrough, Bettina Khano and others. And in July, I will be curating an exhibition of the San Francisco based conceptual artist Tom Marioni, called “Actions (1969-2014),” in Berlin.

    Why is film your favorite medium?

    Film has always fascinated me, specifically in the context of other art forms. And it's been interesting for me to see how film has become a very prominent medium for expressing the ideas for more and more artists. You can see that in the increasing number of works with moving images at every biennale worldwide, in the growing number of applications for the film program at Art Basel every year, and in the increased number of film-based works within Art Basel’s Unlimited sector. 

    What are your personal top five artist’s films?

    I don't have that kind of list; there are just too many amazing films that I adore for very different reasons and it would not feel right to compare these incomparable works in a list.

    Art Basel Curator Marc Glöde on His Fascination With Film
    Art Basel Film Section 2014 - Rashid Johnson's "Samuel in Space" (2013)

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    PREVIEW: Topless Beauties at 2014 Pebble Beach

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    LA Gets New Culture Head, Pace Makes Swiss Debut, and More

    — New Head for LA’s Dept. of Cultural Affairs: Mayor Eric Garcetti has tapped Danielle Brazell, executive director of the Arts for LA advocacy group, to lead the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs. She will oversee a budget of $9 million of taxpayer funds, the city’s artist grants, arts groups, cultural festivals, and the commissions of public art works funded by real estate development fees. Pending City Council’s approval, Brazell will become the fifth general manager of the department since its founding in the 1980s. [LAT]

    — Pace Makes Swiss Debut: Pace just opened a temporary space in the eastern Swiss town of Zuoz in a historic house, Chesa Büsin. The space’s summer show will be a retrospective of Chinese artist Zhang Huan. “Many collectors have beautiful houses and spend a significant amount of time in this part of Switzerland. Pace Chesa Büsin offers the right platform to service them now,” said Mollie Dent-Brockle­hurst, the president of Pace London. [TAN]

    — Pope’s Niece Mounts Miami Art Show: The Pope’s niece, artist Cristina Bergoglio, has a new art exhibition open in Miami at the Conrad Hotel. [Local 10]

    — ICP Opens Two Latin American Art Shows: The International Center of Photography has recently opened two exhibitions of Latin American art — adding to the number of art institutions in New York covering the subject this summer — featuring Latin American photography from 1944 to 2013 and a solo presentation of Brazilian photographer Caio Reisewitz. [NYT]

    — A Look at Brooklyn’s Sugar Industry: Nine Brooklyn high school students researched, wrote, and designed an exhibition about Brooklyn’s sugar industry — including a look at Domino Sugar Factory— at the Brooklyn Historical Society. [NYT]

    — Kate Gillespie has been named the Georgia Museum of Art’s new curator of American art. [Online Athens]

    — Robert M. Levy is the Art Institute of Chicago’s new board chairman. [Art Daily]

    — The Orlando Museum of Art is starting a $20,000 art prize for contemporary artists from the state. [Orlando Sentinel]


    Katie Paterson Takes the Very Long View

    Hans Ulrich Obrist and Klaus Biesenbach on What Makes Their “14 Rooms” at Basel Worth Exploring

    Art Basel Curator Marc Glöde on His Fascination With Film

    Strong and Steady Sales Continue at Art Basel

    VIDEO: High-Profile Names Help Istanbul Celebrate Arts and Culture

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

    Danielle Brazell

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    Neuehouse's First Annual Summer Kick-Off

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    Dorothea Rockburne and Democracy: FAPE Installs a Mural in Jamaica

    When entering the United States Embassy in Kingston, Jamaica, one must relinquish both passport and cell phone. A well manicured and intensely air conditioned complex carved out of the Liguanea area of the city, the embassy was built in 2006 and is one of America’s largest consular offices. Inside, past the metal detector and a delightfully awkward trio of Obama, Biden, and Kerry portraits, is maybe the last place you might expect to find a newly-installed, 41-foot-tall mural by one of America’s greatest living artists. But thanks to the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE), a massive site-specific work by Dorothea Rockburne now calls the embassy’s atrium home.

    “Folded Sky, Homage to Colin Powell” was commissioned to honor the former secretary of state, whose family hails from Jamaica, though he was born in the Bronx.

    “When FAPE asked me to do this commission honoring Colin Powell, I could do whatever I wanted, but I knew immediately that I wanted to do the sky over Jamaica on the night he was born,” Rockburne told me recently as we sat in front of her work, which had been installed just days before.

    “When studying art history, a lot of people have painted skies,” the 81-year-old artist said. “Constable painted some fantastic skies and Turner of course. Many skies were painted in the Renaissance depicting Jesus and the three kings. My most important reference, however, began with Egyptian art. There are many paintings of skies in Egyptian tomb paintings. There’s the goddess Nut, queen of the skies, doing a back bend over the ceiling of a tomb I saw in Egypt in the winter of 1980. The milk for the Milky Way is shooting out of her upturned breasts, which are pointing at the sky, spewing shooting stars, which are forming the Milky Way.”

    Rockburne has long explored astronomy and mathematical concepts in her work. Since studying with renowned mathematician Max Dehn at Black Mountain College beginning in the early ’50s and continuing through the present, she has investigated ways to visualize geometric topology — a branch of mathematics that, according to Wikipedia, is “the study of manifolds and maps between them.” The title of the new work, “Folded Sky,” refers to a cosmological, topological concept. “The sky is a continuous surface that envelops the earth, the universe,” Rockburne explained. “They think of the sky as folded.”

    “When you stand close, and directly in front of the work, you have the sense that the night time sky is floating over your head,” Rockburne said. “Topologists are not so interested in the planets or the stars. They are interested in the space in between, which they consider a continuous surface in the universe. I am attempting to deal with that concept in my own way. I’m not a mathematician or an astronomer but, as an artist, I somehow wanted to add to an art dialogue that has to do with astronomy and how other artists have painted the stars and the sky. Also, I am trying, in this painting, to invent a new perspective without using Renaissance diagonal perspective lines. When standing directly under the work, the viewer has the feeling that they are being engulfed by a painting.”

    Rockburne’s mural has been 10 years in the making. “This project came up to us in 2003 when General Powell was secretary of state and long-admired by our organization,” said Jennifer Duncan, director of FAPE. “So it was a project we took on and we immediately thought of Dorothea. Our chairman has been dear friends with her for years and had introduced them [Powell and Rockburne] and spent time with them, so we thought Dorothea was a natural fit for this project, given their relationship.”

    The fact that Powell is a contentious figure in many circles is not lost on Rockburne, but the artist is not concerned with the political controversies surrounding his legacy. “When I began in earnest to work on this painting in 2009, Colin Powell was being criticized,” she said. “My liberal friends said to me, ‘You’re doing a mural honoring Colin Powell?’ And they made a face. I said, ‘Yes. I admire him.’ I feel like it is a great pleasure to make a work that honors him, a military man who sought peace, presenting him in a more eternal light.”

    FAPE, which was founded in 1986, is remarkable less for its mission (to give permanent artworks to US embassies) and more for the caliber of contemporary artists who agree to create works for just the price of fabrication. In the past five years, a Joel Shapiro was installed in Guangzhou, a Lynda Benglis went to Mumbai, an Ellsworth Kelly went to Beijing, and a Sol LeWitt went to Berlin, among others. This is, in large part, due to the efforts of Robert Storr, who chairs FAPE’s volunteer advisory committee and also happens to be the dean of the Yale School of Art.

    Besides these site-specific commissions, FAPE has also built original print and photography collections that contain works from Frank Stella, Jasper Johns, Julie Mehretu, and many other familiar names. This summer, the first comprehensive exhibition of all of FAPE’s efforts will be on view at the Museum at Guild Hall in East Hampton, from June 21 through July 27.

    Recent acquisitions, like Carrie Mae Weems’s 2014 photograph “Echoes For Marian,” which pictures the artist standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, will be on view, but FAPE’s real work is, of course, spread across embassies around the world, where the artworks are experienced on a day-to-day basis by bureaucrats, not museum-goers. FAPE hopes to organize a trip down to Jamaica during Art Basel Miami so art-worlders can get a glimpse of Rockburne’s mural, but for now at least, the work mostly exists for the benefit of those working away in the consulate.

    “When I was a kid I read this quote by Leonardo DaVinci, who said, ‘Don’t copy nature. Copy the ways of nature,’” Rockburne told me over dinner. “And I really took that to my heart a very long time ago, and that’s actually what I’m doing.”

    A detail of Dorothea Rockburne's "Folded Sky, Homage to Colin Powell," 2009.

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    Artists in “Exhibition”: An Interview With Director Joanna Hogg

    Joanna Hogg’s “Exhibiton,” which opens June 20 at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, is a ghost story without a ghost. A married couple, mysteriously named “H” and “D” (played by the artist Liam Gilick and Viv Albertine, former frontwoman of seminal punk band the Slits), are two artists who live and work in a beautifully arranged post-modern abode smack in the middle of London. They’ve lived there for years and each has carved out their own little area within the space, often communicating through an intercom system. One half of the couple is a more renowned artist than the other, and the imbalance, though never spoken, is felt.

    The film is a dreamlike portrait of their final days in the house before selling it, as they deal with the memories that are embedded in the walls and in danger of disappearing. The architect James Melvin, who was friendly with Hogg during the later years of his life, designed the house with its spiraling stairs and rooms within rooms — a perfect space for the quiet drama of a marriage to unfold.

    The film pushes certain stylistic elements — most notably the sound design — to extremes. In a recent conversation with ARTINFO, Hogg discussed the film and her working methods, and mentioned that many people have remarked that “Exhibition” could exist in some way in a gallery or museum setting, an idea that has been rattling around in her head for the future.

    When talking to writers and directors, I’m always interested in the moment of creation. Where do you begin?

    I think so far it’s been a place; a particular place that’s made an impression on me, usually somewhere I’ve known for a long time with memories attached and lots of associations. Certainly that was the case with the first two films, “Unrelated” and “Archipelago.” “Exhibition” was a little different. I also knew the house but I didn’t have those memories and those feelings attached to it, except that it made a big impression on me.

    How was your approach to the film different, not having those same memories or feelings attached to the space?

    As you were asking that I was thinking, “Maybe I don’t approach the space any differently.” I tend to not see these places as locations in a way. I don’t have any distance between myself and the places where I film; they somehow connect very deeply for me. The house in “Exhibition,” when I first encountered it, it struck me very strongly as this perfect post-modernist doll’s house, and I, at the same time, had been developing a story about a married couple that had been together a long time who were both artists. Somehow, placing these two characters into this perfect cube seemed the right thing to do.

    What particularly made you feel so strongly about this house?

    I really like the big glass windows and that you can look out into the garden or the street, but see the interior of the house reflected in a way more than what you were looking at outside — this tension between the inside and the outside. That made me think about ghosts, it made me think about memories, and all those ideas became part of the texture of the film.

    Watching “Exhibition” again recently, I was struck by the way the house provides a very interesting visual motif of frames. Rooms open up into different rooms, and with the big glass windows you’re often shooting frames within frames. It reminded me of certain scenes in “Unrelated” and “Archipelago” as well, highlighting, as you said, “the tension between the inside and outside.”

    I think it’s something that’s very instinctive. I’ve taken photographs for many years — I was a photographer before I was a filmmaker — and I think even my photographs back in the early 1980s reflected my interest in a certain kind of symmetry and interest in depth. There is something when you frame a kind of doorway within a doorway, or looking down a corridor, you’re getting a certain depth that I find very satisfying.

    What was it about Viv Albertine and Liam Gillick, who have very distinct public personalities, that made you want to have them in this film? Is the casting process instinctual?

    I suppose it’s too easy to write it off as just instinct but it has so much to do with that. I had been looking for a long time — I met lots of actors, non-actors, artists, dancers, real-life couples. No one excited me; no one felt right for this couple. What I realized when I found Viv and Liam, what I had been looking for was a couple that somehow represented different characteristics. I was interested in the husband being more rational, intellectual, a logical thinking person, and the wife being instinctive, emotional. They represented these different sides and those aspects were perfectly embodied within Liam and Viv. In the document, my version of the screenplay that I write, I had written H and D as these two very different characters, so they were perfect for that. I was also excited that neither of them had been on screen before. They were both new to cinema. Somehow they’re completely new and seem completely real on some level, but it’s also about choosing people whose own selves can be reflected in their character. They’re pouring some of their selves into the story.

    Not just their selves, but did Liam and Viv’s work influence your conception of their characters?

    Having cast Liam partly because of the work he does and thinking that would fit in very well with the architecture of the house — I feel his work as an artist is sometimes quite close to architecture — I felt he would be at home in the house. Viv was the same thing but for other reasons. Once they were cast, I then realized they were both very good performers and I stretched them and encouraged them to move away from their own selves in some ways so that they’re not playing just a version of themselves but creating a character — but I want that character they create to feel entirely real.

    You mentioned earlier the “document,” which is your version of the screenplay. How does that take shape and what is included?

    It’s a long process that starts with writing notes in notebooks and then eventually it gets distilled to about 30 pages that looks and reads more like a piece of prose, or a novella possibly, illustrated by photographs — I always put photographs in my documents — and then that document is allowed to change because I shoot in story order, so I give myself that freedom to adapt the story as I go along. But I didn’t show Liam or Viv this document before we started filming. They both agreed to make the film without looking at anything written down.

    Did you show them anything at all?

    I didn’t show them any of this original document — they still haven’t seen it — but what I did start to do, because I realized it might help them, was write scenes as I went along. I would write new scenes or versions of scenes that I had written in the original document and present that to them about a half-hour before shooting it. I didn’t want them to learn the lines but just for them to have an understanding of where to go in the scene.

    What sort of images do you have in your document?

    There were images of the neighborhood; particular frames or angles I wanted to recreate in the film. There were also some reflections in the house, this inside-outside aspect I talked about.

    So these are all photographs you take?

    They are all photographs I have taken and they relate very specifically to my story. It was the same with “Archipelago,” and sometimes some of the frames in the finished films relate to a still I had taken. Then, of course, I work very closely with my cinematographer, Tim Rutherford. I’ll show him my stills, we’ll take more stills — he’ll take some stills himself — and we’ll talk about other references, whether paintings or other photographs. It’s an ongoing process but it kicks off with taking photographs myself.

    The sound in the film is such a felt presence: it’s there but it’s not there. The sliding doors, the chairs rolling on the ground, the ambient noise coming from the street outside — it’s all used in a very engaging way.

    In this document that I just described I would mention sounds, particular sounds. I talked about creating soundscapes, creating stories in sound that D would hear or imagine, however one looks at it. This kind of texture of the soundscape was there from the beginning and was another starting point for the project. I’m really interested in sound and with “Exhibition” in particular, we pushed the sound much further into something more dreamlike, a less realistic approach to sound, almost creating music out of the natural sounds.

    Is this something you look forward to, pushing the role of sound in the film toward something more impressionistic?

    I’m always thinking about sound. Since arriving in New York I hear sounds: I’m listening to the air conditioner in here, the sirens in New York, which have a particular quality different from the ones in London. I’m possibly more interested in sound than in image.

    Are you interested in pushing these qualities of film toward something that’s completely non-narrative or toward further reaches of experimentation?

    I’m always thinking about that and sometimes I wonder if it’s necessary to work in different ways. I recognize the desire for audiences when they’re watching a film in a cinema to have some kind of narrative element to hang on to. Even with “Exhibition,” some audiences find it challenging; they’re not quite sure what kind of beast this is. I’ve got polarized opinions about the film, which is interesting. But yes, I’ve thought a lot about working in different forms and different lengths. In cinema you’re limited to this length of around 90 minutes. Maybe 40 minutes is nice to do sometimes, or three minutes. I think a lot about that kind of experimentation, or even if art house cinema is the right arena for that.

    Viviane Albertine in a still from Joanna Hogg's "Exhibition."

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    VIDEO: Melanie Bonajo Explores Emptiness at VOLTA10 in Basel

    Dutch multimedia and performance artist Melanie Bonajo is on a roll. After landing an International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) artist-in-residence this spring and winning the MK Award, Rotterdam's new visual art prize, she is presenting her work at VOLTA10 in Basel.

    Captivated by concepts of the divine, Bonajo explores the spiritual emptiness of her generation through photographs, performances, and films. 

    She questions our shifting relationship with nature and tries to understand existential questions by looking at our domestic situation and changes to humanity at large. 

    Goicolea's installations, which place the viewer firmly within an “active” role, are on view at AKINCI Amsterdam during Art Basel Week at VOLTA10 through June 21, 2014. 

    GalleryLOG has partnered with VOLTA, in association with Blouin ARTINFO, to produce a series of unique short videos highlighting a selection of emerging artists for the art fair's Basel edition.   

    Melanie Bonajo Film

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    If you’re wondering what sculpture looks like today, just picture a painting submerged beneath the surface of a tiny swimming pool. Or a two-dimensional image of Yves Tanguy-esque biomorphic oddities rendered using 3-D computer graphics. Or an intricate tank of water filled with mussels hooked up to a series of sensors, their movements fed into a laptop and translated into a strangely hypnotic song. Clearly, the title of the current sculpture survey at Postmasters in New York — “This is what sculpture looks like,” on view through August 2 — is a bit of a coy misnomer. Certainly there is no single unifying signature, tactic, or concern that is motivating all 16 of the artists included here. All 16, incidentally, are women, though this fact is not overtly stressed: “It’s a rather obvious point in relation to the medium and cliched gender bias that exists in ‘big sculpture’ territory,” said Postmasters owner Magda Sawon via email. (Sawon co-curated the show with the gallery’s Paulina Bebecka and Tamas Banovich.)

    Joanna Malinowksa’s “Genre Scene With a Fountain” is a lumpy pile of vinyl-and-foam sacks, vaguely mammalian corpses with plaster tusks — they reminded me of sadder, deader versions of Carsten Höller’s happy floor animals. Next to them, a monitor plays a short film in which the artist enacts a version of Bruce Nauman’s “Self-Portrait as a Fountain.” Nearby is Diana Cooper’s excellent, unnerving “Cubicle,” a roughly workspace-sized enclosure, bordered by stretches of the type of spiky protective fencing used to ward off birds. The mostly abstract sculpture pairs astroturf with perforated metal screens and appropriated images of deck chairs, a clear sky, and the placid surface of a swimming pool. It looks like both a defensive structure (to keep someone out) and a prison cell (to keep someone in). Within the context of its title, the piece could be a subtle expression of the alienation and utopian aspirations of office life.

    Daria Irincheeva’s “Evening Composition #017” is a delicate balancing act, an assemblage of wooden poles that supports a series of wispy airplants. (If Camille Henrot’s Ikebana works at the New Museum inspire a resurgence of plants-in-sculpture, I’m all for it.) Irincheeva’s sculpture resembles a construction site built by someone whose creative impatience forbade logical scaffolding. Behind its barricade is a plank plastered with paint chips and other materials, a slick but decidedly rough rejoinder to Finish Fetish.    

    In the back gallery, a large piece by Michelle Matson nods toward Tom Friedman’s humor and material experimentation: Wood painted to look like blocks of styrofoam board, flat drawings of semi-peeled bananas on its surface and on the floor, waiting for a pratfall. The whole weird structure is dotted by green painted orbs, either warts or apples. The untitled monolith faces off against two painted-wood sculptures by Rachel Beach, “Hull” and “Demi,” like elements of a geometric abstraction realized in three dimensions. Other works in the show push the hardest against the definitions of sculpture itself: Caitlin Cherry’s “Mute City, Big Blue, Port Town” brings a small swimming pool into the gallery, its submerged bottom a repurposed painting. Bodies of water appear again in Natalie Jeremijenko’s “MUSCLExCHOIR Performing Live!,” the aforementioned piece composed of a tank of live mussels hooked up to sensors, generating a song that reverberates through the space.

    Overall, “This is what sculpture looks like” expresses a sincere faith in the future of the medium. There is next to nothing here that resembles a so-called “unmonumental” aesthetic, nothing lazy or exhausted, nothing that shrugs its postmodern shoulders and insists that everything’s been done before, somehow, somewhere. The show may include a few missteps, but that’s just evidence that the 16 artists here are still willing to take risks, to see what newness and strangeness can be squeezed from a very old practice. 

    Singing Mussels, Swimming Pools, and Airplants: This Is Sculpture
    Monica Cook's "Phosphene" 2014 at Postmasters Gallery's "This is what sculpture

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    Week in Review: From Basel to Delaware, Our Top Visual Arts Stories

    — Reporting from Art Basel, Judd Tully found a wave of early sales. And we had plenty of other Basel coverage: Insiders gave their thoughts on the fair and we offered a look at emerging artists in the Spotlight sector, highlights from the Feature sector, and a follow-up report from Tully.

    — Ashton Cooper documented the satirical developments in the controversy surrounding artist Joe Scanlan, the man behind Donelle Woolford, and the ongoing debate about race in the art world.

    — Robert Wilson, experimental theater director and collector of “everything,” answered 25 questions in this week’s questionnaire.

    — Sarah Hanson profiled sheep-loving collectors Michael and Seren Shvo for Art+Auction.

    — The Delaware Art Museum wasn’t having a great week with the less-than-stellar sale of its deaccessioned painting and a censure from the AAMD.

    — Scott Indrisek profiled painter Cristina de Miguel on the occasion of her debut solo show with Freight + Volume.

    — Alanna Martinez reviewed the Guggenheim’s survey of art from Latin America, “Under the Same Sun.” 

    Ross Simonini’s paintings and drawings deal with feet, food, and fraught emotions.

    — Scott Indrisek detailed artist Katie Paterson’s current project, an effort to plant 1,000 Norwegian spruce trees that won’t be harvested for 100 years.

    — MoMA announced plans for a 2015 Björk retrospective this week.

    This Week's VIDEOS:



    An installation view of Marie Lund at the Laura Bartlett Gallery booth Art Basel

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    See Highlights From "1968: Radical Italian Design"

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    Q&A: Troika on "Dark Matter" at Art Basel

    For nearly 10 years, Conny Freyer, Eva Rucki, and Sebastien Noel have been presenting the art world with their immersive light sculptures and installations. At this year’s Unlimited Section of Art Basel, the French-German trio that calls itself Troika shows “Dark Matter” (2014), a large-scale aluminum structure. Here, the group discusses the work.

    Your new work “Dark Matter” converges three viewpoints into one physical object.

    The three different viewpoints show three distinct geometrical shapes — a square, a hexagon, and a circle — which, however, are really only instances of one long continuous line of many different forms that one would see when moving around the sculpture. Also, the sculpture is not simply the result of this system of space and object. It is a reflection on letting antithetical view points coexist in one object, however impossible this might seem, looking for a possible existence of unity beyond the paradox, and what truth might mean beyond its apparent multiplicity.

    How will the sculpture be presented at Unlimited?

    The sculpture will be suspended in the center of a room that is just large enough to allow you to move around it, a black circular mass being the first thing that is visible from the entrance.

    What kind of experience do you want the viewer to have?

    We are interested in systems and models that we set up to make sense of the world around us, to create order and sense and stability in a complex and often seemingly contradictory world. These systems can be religious, scientific, or else. We are interested in how sometimes, in fact often, we mistake these models for reality; how they become the status quo, the ultimate truth even though they are just models that we set up to eliminate uncertainty. The sculpture is very much about stepping back from the system, making room for those things whose truth or falsity is not known to you. It points towards a possible unity beyond these models, which surfaces from our partial experience and understanding of the whole.

    People who see your sculptures and installations often feel a sense of enchantment. What is it like for you seeing your own work in action for the first time?

    The sum of the parts is always a bit unpredictable. Of course, you catch glimpses while making the work of how it might finally come together; the first model, the first section, the first time you work with this incredibly dark fiber material. But you are still in the making of the work. It takes time to distance yourself from that. In particular “Dark Matter,” where the relationship between space and object is so integral to the work, is only coming to completion when it is presented in its final setting. At Unlimited, it will be the first time for us to see it completed in this sense. There are always things that we don’t anticipate and there is always a big leap between knowing, in theory, what a sculpture will look like, and then seeing it in the flesh, once it is finished, sitting in a particular space. Everything can change, the way you experience its size, its shape, its presence. It leaves a space for the unexpected, the incalculable.

    Troika at Art Basel: “Dark Matter” (2014)

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  • 06/22/14--00:52: Fabergé Rococo Collection
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    Fabergé Rococo Collection

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    Through certain eyes, Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari’s newly published book, “1968: Radical Italian Design” (Deste Foundation/Toilet Paper), with text contributions from venerated designer Alessandro Mendini, is full of nothing but vulgarities. Its 60 or so pages feature Playboy-style photographs that oscillate between being playfully suggestive and explicitly sexual. Naked masked women, phallic objects, leather bondage, urination, less-than-conventional uses of food — “eggs, asses, panties, and spaghetti,” design critic and Bisazza Foundation director Mario Cristina Didero writes in the preface, which “compose an intriguing pop collage as if the objects had decided to move with their own feet, gone wild and started to express their own subversive stories, each one with its own temperament, its own needs, its own daily life” — all intermingle here.

    In addition to this list of vulgarities, the images also feature important design objects from 1968, a time right in the midst of a groundbreaking era in the field — and the world at large. And so to some, these lurid moments, set against candy-colored backdrops, are an expression of a certain spirit of irreverence and protest that came bubbling to the surface at the time. The titular year saw riots, assassinations, and wars that continue to reverberate through history, as well as a backlash to the staid functionality of modernism led by the likes of Archizoom, Superstudio, Global Tools, and 9999. What they produced was furniture that flew in the face of conventional ideas of “taste” and assailed any notions of comfort, a new style that Mendini describes as “an elaboration of the methods of kitsch, on the paradox connected to bad taste, on self-directed irony, on plastic and other inappropriate materials,” in his “Rules of the Radical Designer, 1968-1978,” featured in the beginning of the book. Kaleidoscopic furniture in the shape of cacti, elephant tusks, human hands, and nameless objects are just a few examples.

    It was also in 1968 that that Dakis Joannou, the Greek power-collector and founder of the Athens-based Deste Foundation for the Contemporary Arts (which supplied the design icons for these photos), fist became fascinated with Italian Radical Design.

    Click on the slideshow to see images from “1968: Radical Italian Design.”

    See Highlights From “1968: Radical Italian Design”
    1968: Radical Italian Furniture: Photographs by Maurizio Cattelan & Pieropaolo F

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    VIDEO: A Pinch of Creativity at PINCH Food Design

    After years of going to cocktail parties and catered events, chef Bob Spiegel and T.J. Girard had enough. They were tired of fighting for chicken skewers, having no place to put their glasses, or garbage for that matter. So chef Bob and designer T.J., decided to take a chance and opened their own catering company called PINCH Food Design. It truly is the art of catering. The duo, along with their partners Stella Rankin and Karen Hillburn, started the company in 2011.

    Their designs allow guests to interact with the food and one another. Food hangs from an umbrella or a wall, or it rolls on a table made of marbles. Each piece is created at PINCH's studio in Chelsea, Manhattan. The food is locally sourced and made by chefs with decades of experience.

    PINCH has become so popular, and particular, it has catered events for Christie's auction house, Lady Gaga, and The Museum of Natural History. 


    Food Art, Pinch Food Design, Catering, Bob Spiegel, T.J. Garder,

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    Sing Sing May Get a Museum, French Cave Named Heritage Site, and More

    — Sing Sing May Get Museum: Some citizens of Ossining, New York are hoping to turn an old power plant located on the grounds of Sing Sing into a museum open to the public, despite the fact that the facility is still an active prison. Items on display could include the jail’s famous electric chair and weapons made by prisoners. “It’s full of history, that’s for sure,” said Arthur Wolpinsky, a correction officer at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility since 1971 and the prison historian. “Electrocutions, riots, escape attempts. And so much has changed over the years. Inmates can have cable TV in their cells now.” [AP]

    — Cave Paintings Added to UNESCO List: The Decorated Cave of Pont d’Arc (Grotte Chauvet-Pont d’Arc) has been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The site contains more than 1,000 images of mammoths, human footprints, and other drawings that were made nearly 30,000 years ago. Discovered in 1994 by researcher Jean-Mari Chauvet, they are among the oldest known human drawings and are considered to be the most well preserved figurative drawings in the world. [ABC News]

    — Mauritshuis Opens Subtle Renovation: Carol Vogel took a look at the Mauritshuis renovation before the museum opens to the public this Friday. While it may not seem like much has changed, the museum has doubled its space, thanks to an underground foyer that connects it to a building across the street. “The old building is still the main event,” Emilie Gordenker, the museum’s director, said. “We didn’t want to be too big; we wanted to safeguard against that.” [NYT]

    — Man Rescued From Vagina Sculpture: It took more than 20 firefighters to remove an American exchange student from a large public sculpture by Fernando de la Jara, titled “Chacán-Pi (Making Love),” which resembles a vagina, outside Tübingen University’s institute for microbiology in Southern Germany. [Guardian]

    — Study Finds Too Much Art in the Classroom Disruptive: A new study by Carnegie University researchers found that classrooms with too many art decorations disrupted attention and distracted learning in young children. [Lohud]

    — Nun’s Peace Banner Heads to Cleveland: A peace banner created by artist and Catholic nun Sister Corita Kent for the 1964 New York World’s Fair will be shown at the Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art. [Ideasteam]

     — SFMOMA has almost reached its $610 million fundraising goal. [Bloomberg]

    — Hank BullTom Milroy, and Pamela Richardson have joined the board of the Vancouver Art Gallery. [Artforum]

    — Two statues looted in 1897 have finally been returned to Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I, the Oba (King) of Benin. [AFP]


    Escaping Art’s Boundaries With Lygia Clark’s MoMA Retrospective

    Dorothea Rockburne and Democracy: FAPE Installs a Mural in Jamaica

    Singing Mussels, Swimming Pools, and Airplants: This Is Sculpture

    See Highlights From “1968: Radical Italian Design”

    Art Basel Curator Marc Glöde on His Fascination With Film

    Q&A: Troika on “Dark Matter” at Art Basel

    VIDEO: Melanie Bonajo Explores Emptiness at VOLTA10 in Basel

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

    Employees stationed in Ossinsing New York's  Sing Sing Prison in 1914.

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    "Survival is an Art" Fashion Show

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    Slideshow:"Vintage Violence" at Monya Rowe Gallery

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    A Preview of Sotheby's London Impressionist Sale

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    Led by a top-class Claude Monet“Nympheas” painting from 1906, Sotheby’s London kicked off the Impressionist and Modern auction season with a strong £121,957,000/$207,875,707 evening sale tally on Monday.

    Only four of the 46 lots offered failed to sell, for a slim nine percent buy-in rate by lot. The result, including the buyer’s premium, came close to catching the high end of pre-sale expectations, pegged at between £86.2-123.9/$146.3-210.3 million. (Estimates do not include the commission fees. Twenty-six of the 42 lots that sold made over a million pounds and 34 sold for over a million dollars.

    The sale eclipsed last June’s £105,939,000/$165,932,256 tally for the same sale, where 58 lots sold at an 18 percent buy-in rate by lot.

    A healthy chunk of the total on Monday came from 17 works consigned from the estate of modern art dealer Jan Krugier, who died in Geneva in 2008 at the age of 80. All 17 sold, for a combined £27,134,500/$46,128,650, well ahead of the £12.6-18.7 million pre-sale estimate.

    Their likely success was evident early on, when one of the Krugier offerings, Jean Arp’s abstract painted wall relief “Point-Virgule” from 1927, sold for £422,500/$720,151 (est. £180-250,000). It had last been offered with a much higher estimate in November 2013 at Christie’s New York, at a single-owner Krugier sale that fell flat, including this work then estimated at $800,000-1.2 million.

    “The Krugier material was priced attractively in order to entice bidders and it succeeded,” said Philip Hook, senior international specialist in the Impressionist and Modern department of Sotheby’s London. 

    Other Krugier winners included Paul Klee's “Beginnende Kuhle (Incipient Coolness)” from 1937, a color-charged composition in oil on board that sold for £1,082,500/$1,845,121 (est. £400-600,000); Pablo Picasso’s “L’Atelier,” an action packed self-portrait with models from 1962 that sold to New York’s Acquavella Galleries for £3,554,500/$6,058,645 (est. £2-3 million); and Wassily Kandinsky’s early landscape “Herbstlandschaft (Autumn Landscape)” from 1911, which fetched £5,570,500/$9,494,917.

    Though “Atelier” sold well in light of its estimate, Krugier had acquired it at Sotheby’s New York in May 2008 for a heady $6,481,000.

    The Kandinsky also benefitted from a rehabilitated estimate; at its previous outing at the Christie’s Krugier sale it was pegged at $20-25 million and bought in.

    Apart from the energetic 1962 Picasso from Krugier, there were eight other offerings by the artist sprinkled throughout the sale, all of which sold, including a jauntily outfitted Marie Therese Walter in a 29-by-23¾-inch  composition from an otherwise unidentified private collection. “Portrait de femme,” from 1937, realized £5,346,500/$9,113,109 (est. £4-6 million). 

    While modern works stood out—including the auction-fresh and ahead-of-its-time Piet Mondrian abstraction “Composition with Red, Blue and Grey” from 1927, which sold to a bidder on the phone with David Norman, who heads Sotheby’s private sales division, for £15,202,500/$25,912,661 (est. £13-18 million)—a painting from the Impressionist epoch made the top price. 

    That was Monet’s sublime “Nympheas,” depicting his beloved water garden in Giverny, signed and dated 1906. It also went to Norman’s telephone for £31,722,500/$54,071,001 (est. £20-30 million) after a telephone bidding war, beating out the phone manned by Kevin Chang, Sotheby’s chief executive of Asia.

    Many in the room assumed the underbidder was Asian, given that buyers from that continent have been helping the market keep its buoyancy, at least for correctly estimated works.

    The painting was backed by a so-called irrevocable bid, also known as a third-party guarantee, meaning that it would sell no matter what happened in the salesroom. It probably needed that insurance since it bought in at its previous outing back in June 2010 at Christie’s London, when it was aggressively estimated at £30-40 million.

    “A lot of buyers wouldn’t have been in the market in 2010,” Hook opined  of the Monet in an interview after the auction—“especially those from the emerging markets in Asia, Russia and South America.”

    The Monet didn’t break the £40.9/$80.3 million record for the artist set at Christie’s London in June 2008 for “Le basin aux nympheas” from 1919, but did set the second highest mark for the artist at auction.

    It was a strong night for the artist, as two other Monets,  from the collection of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., also made hay. The cover lot, the sun-splashed “Antibes, vue du plateau Notre Dame” from 1888, sold to another telephone bidder for £7,922,500/$13,503,901 (est. £6-8 million), and “La seine a Argenteuil,” an earlier plein air work from 1875, brought £8,538,500/$14,553,73 (est. £7-10 million). Both pictures carried auction house financial guarantees.

    Sculpture was also part of the successful mix, with a petite Alberto Giacometti, the 11-inch-high painted bronze “Figurine sur grand scole,” from a 1950 cast, making £1,594,500/$2,717,825 (est. £800,000-1.2 million), and a Rembrandt Bugatti bronze wild animal portrait, “Deux grands leopards” from a posthumous 1934 cast, bringing in £938,500/$1,599,673 (est. £500-700,000).

    “We benefitted from a series of realistically estimated properties,” Hook concluded, “which made the whole thing look pretty good.”

    The evening action resumes at Christie’s London on Tuesday.

    A Strong Start for Impressionism at Sotheby's London
    Claude Monet's "Nymphéas," signed Claude Monet and dated 1906,

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