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  • 07/01/14--12:07: Toronto
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  • 07/01/14--12:52: Art of the Kimono at LACMA
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    Art of the Kimono at LACMA

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    Pierre Soulages Museum Draws Visitors in France

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    LONDON — Despite a chronic fatigue generated by a seemingly endless half year of art fairs and auctions, the Post-War/contemporary art market surprisingly shifted into overdrive at Christie’s jam-packed salesroom Tuesday evening, realizing £99,413,500/$169,897,672. The result landed healthily midway between pre-sale expectations of £78.9-114.8/$134.9-196.3 million.

    Estimates do not reflect fees and all prices quoted include the sliding scale buyer’s premium pegged at 25 percent of the final bid (a.k.a. hammer price) up to £50,000, 20 percent up to £100,000, 12 percent up to £1 million, and 10 percent for anything above that. Of the 75 lots offered tonight, 12 failed to sell for a respectable buy-in rate of 16 percent by lot.

    Twenty-nine lots sold for over one million pounds and 38 made over one million dollars. Seven artist records were set, including two just 24 hours old. The tally hurdled past last June’s £70.2/$108.4 million result for 51 lots sold with a 20 percent buy-in rate by lot.

    The evening got off to a swift start with (lot 1) Cindy Sherman’s black and white “Untitled Film Still, #25” from 1978, depicting the made-up and anxious looking artist posed on a bridge, which sold for £242,500/$414,433 (est. £100-150,000).

    An amalgam of Italian offerings soon followed with (lot 4) Michelangelo Pistoletto’s mirror painting/self-portrait, “Amanti (Lovers)” from 1962-66, executed in painted tissue-paper on stainless steel, which sold for a record £2,322,500/$3,969,153 (est. £1-1.5 million). Milan dealer Nicolo Cardi and collector Dimitri Mavromatis were part of the posse of underbidders.

    Enrico Donati’s  (lot 5) “Superficie Bianca” in acrylic on shaped canvas from 1963, sold from the storied Morton Neumann Family Collection, made £626,500/$1,070,689 (est. £300,000-500,000).

    Alberto Burri’s bubbling, volcanic (lot 6) “Rosso plastica” from 1968, in plastic, acrylic, vinyl, and combustion on cellotex realized £1,202,500/$2,055,073 (est. £700,000-1 million) and Lucio Fontana’s (lot 7) pristine, 10 vertically scored cuts, “Concetto spaziale, Attese,” painted in virginal white from 1965, sold to London’s Helly Nahmad Gallery for £6,018,500/$10,285,617 (est. £4-6 million).

    Piero Manzoni’s (lot 9) kaolin on shaped canvas abstraction, “Achrome” from 1958-59, sold to a telephone bidder for £1,650,500/$2,820,705 (est. £1-1.5 million). It last sold at Sotheby’s London in October 2003 for £543,200/$908,209.

    Other Post-War European abstraction works were also in keen demand with (lot 8) art star of the Nouveau Realisme movement, Yves Klein’s signature “Untitled blue monochrome (IKB 164)” from 1962, sold to Lock Kresler of the Dominique Levy Gallery for £2,042,500/$3,490,633 (est. £1.5-2 million).

    Nicholas de Stael’s (lot 13) oil on canvas chromatic abstraction, “Composition-Paysage” from 1954, realized £1,538,500/$2,629,297 (est. £1-1.5 million) and a lunar-cratered landscape by (lot 58) Antonio Tapies, “Gran ocra amb incisions (Large Ochre with incisions” in mixed media on canvas from 1961 and hailing from the Viktor and Marianne Langen collection, sold to a telephone bidder for a record £1,650,500/$2,820,705 (est. £400-600,000).

    The tempo accelerated to a frantic pace with Peter Doig’s striking and rather surreal, nighttime composition (lot 14) “Gasthof,” depicting two mustachioed men outfitted in elaborate 19th-century costumes from 2002-04, sold to Larry Gagosian for a record £9,938,500/$16,984,897 (est. £3-5 million).

    One of the gentlemen is Doig, disguised in a theatrical costume and set against a fantastic evening landscape, resembling stoned runaways from the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The background is based on a found German postcard from circa 1910. It shattered the 24-hour-old record set at Sotheby’s on Monday evening when “Country-rock (wing-mirror)” from 1999 sold for £8,482,500/$14,432,974.

    “It’s one of three self-portraits that exist,” said Skarlet Smatana, the curator for the Athens-based George Economou Collection and the underbidder on the painting. “I can understand the value and the interest.”

    A small group of works from Charles Saatchi, sold to benefit the Saatchi Gallery’s Foundation, also attracted intense market interest as (lot 15) Hurvin Anderson’s empty chaired but littered barbershop interior, “Afrosheen” from 2009, suitably large-scaled at 98 1/2 by 81 7/8 inches, rocketed to a record £1,314,500/$2,246,481, going to a telephone bidder. White Cube’s Jay Jopling was the underbidder (est. £300-400,000). It shot past the previous mark set at Sotheby’s on Monday evening when “Peter’s Sitters 3” from 2009, another barber shop themed composition, made £542,500/$923,064.

    “We bid on the Hurvin Anderson,” said Guy Jennings, managing director of the London-based Fine Art Fund and a former top Impressionist and Modern specialist at Christie’s, “and thought we were brave [bidding] at £600,000.”

    Jennings described the difference between the two evenings at Sotheby’s and Christie’s this way: “Christie’s seemed to have a little bit of fairy dust that eluded Sotheby’s.”

    Jopling had better luck with another Saatchi offering, easily the most scandalous of the week as Tracey Emin’s gritty, indeed filthy and alcohol perfumed tableau/self-portrait, “My Bed” from 1998, including stained mattress, linens, pillows, and objects one doesn’t care to mention in a PG-rated, setting sold to the dealer for a record smashing £2,546,500/$4,351,969 (est. £800,000-1.2 million). Emin, who helped stage the piece at Christie’s, was in the audience, videotaping the bidding on her iPhone and looking more excited as the bids kept coming. The widely exhibited and written about bed is one of the iconic pieces of the bygone YBA era. It is understood that Saatchi acquired it from the Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York in 2000 for approximately £150,000.

    Non-Saatchi British entries included (lot 21) Glenn Brown’s Gothic styled “Led Zeppelin” from 2005, sold for £1,142,500/$1,952,533 (est. £1-1.5 million) and featuring a tiara clad and otherwise bejeweled female figure with a decidedly hairy chest. It somewhat takes after the on-stage, open shirt visage of Robert Plant, the band’s leader.

    Apart from the Emin sensation, a guaranteed work by Francis Bacon from the estate of Roald Dahl, the extraordinary English author and creator of the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory tale, attracted another flash flood of bidding.

    Bacon’s cover lot (lot 16) “Study for Head of Lucian Freud,” a 14 by 12 inch oil on canvas from 1967, presenting the figurative painter’s head almost unrecognizable in its explosive fury of thick brushstrokes, sold to someone standing at the very back of the sardine squashed salesroom for a hefty and top lot £11,506,500/$19,664,500 (est. in the region of £8-12 million). Dahl acquired it from the Marlborough Gallery that same year for £2,750 and lived with it until his death in 1990.

    There are only two single canvas portraits of Freud, Bacon’s one-time close friend — they met in 1945 — and later estranged rival in Bacon’s oeuvre. The other resides in a private collection. Dahl eventually acquired four and possibly more Bacon works, and this portrait is the only one left in the estate. The two men of arts and letters, who apparently only met in passing, were much alike in their high-life taste for tobacco, drinking, and gambling.

    Another prominent London School artist, (lot 17) Frank Auerbach, was represented by a large, 60 by 48 inch landscape, “Primrose Hill, Autumn” from 1979-80, richly colored and patinaed with the artist’s expressionist brushes, but it went unsold at a chandelier bid of £1 million (est. £1.2-1.8 million). The Auerbach last sold at Sotheby’s London in February 2005 for £388,800/$722,005.

    Still on UK ground, Sir Howard Hodgkin’s (lot 49) color-packed abstraction, “Waterfall,” a small-scaled oil on panel from 1991-92, sold to the telephone for a robust £362,500/$619,513 (est. £150-200,000). London dealer Jonathan Green of Richard Green Gallery was the underbidder.

    Of the four Gerhard Richter’s offered (lot 26), “Funfzehn Farben (Fifteen Colors),” a color chart painting from 1966-1996, sold to Lock Kresler of the Dominique Levy Gallery for £3,890,500/$ 6,648,865 (est. £3.5-4.5 million). The enamel paint on canvas series, apparently inspired by Richter’s visit to a Dusseldorf paint shop and passing racks of color charts, are notoriously fragile, though this 78 3/4 by 51 1/8 inch example, with 15 bricks of color, appears close-up as pristine.

    A commanding (lot 44) Albert Oehlen figurative work, “Frühstück now (Self-Portrait)” from 1984, featuring the artist as a huge and disembodied sculpted head on a pedestal, made a record £1,082,500/$1,849,993 (est. £300-400,000).

    On the American side of the pond, there were a half-dozen Andy Warhol paintings to choose from, including the third-party guaranteed (lot 29) “Self-Portrait,” from 1986 and part of his late, so-called fright-wig works, this one measuring 40 by 40 inches, sold to collector Dimitri Mavrommatis for £6,354,500/$10,859,841 (est. £6-9 million).

    Warhol’s good friend and sometime collaborator, Jean-Michel Basquiat, was represented with a late, intensely busy graphic work, (lot 35) “Toxic” from 1984, scaled at 86 and 68 7/8 inches. It sold to Connecticut collector and art dealer David Rogath for £1,650,500/$2,820,705 (est. £1.2-1.8 million). The title refers to the artist’s close, club-going friend who is featured in the center of the canvas with brown arms and red hands raised high and wearing a blue broad brimmed hat.   

    Buttonholed outside the King Street salesroom on a balmy, still light night, Rogath observed, “I just thought it was so underpriced and liked it much better than the one that sold last night for a higher price. I was prepared to go much higher.” Rogath characterized Christie’s as an “excellent result.”

    Formerly in the Mugrabi collection, the acrylic oil stick and Xerox collage on canvas last sold at auction in Paris in June 1999 in the pre-Euro era for $343,385.

    A huge Keith Haring (lot 34) tarp painting in acrylic with metal grommets, “Tree of Life,” a kind of funky takeoff or reprise of Gustav Klimt’s 1905 frieze of the same title, went for £1,538,500/$2,629,297 (est. £1-1/5 million). It last sold at auction at Sotheby’s New York in November 2007, arguably the height of that roaring market period, for $2,169,000. That says a little something about the current market.

    Speaking of which, secondary market heavyweight Christopher Wool continued to make breaking waves with (lot 32) “Untitled,” a huge, 108 by 72 inch enamel on aluminum painting with the black block lettered HA AH covering the snow white background. It sold for £6,242,500/$10,668,433 (est. £5.5-7.5 million).

    Though not records, two other works showed the brawny strength of the current market as (lot 37) David Ostrowski’s “F (Dann lieber nein)” abstraction in oil and lacquer on canvas from 2011 unleashed a torrent of phone bidding, selling for £104,500/$178,591 and (lot 11) Roy Lichtenstein’s rare to market, tondo shaped canvas, “Mirror #8” in oil and Magna on canvas from 1971, sold to a telephone bidder for £1,986,500/$3,394,929. Larry Gagosian and private art advisor Amy Cappellazzo were part of the roster of underbidders.

    The evening action resumes for a finale of the season at Phillips on Wednesday.

    A Brawny Market Lifts Sales at Christie's
    Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Sales Report

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    WHAT: “Masterpieces & Curiosities: Diane Arbus’s Jewish Giant”
    WHEN: April 11-August 3
    WHERE: The Jewish Museum, 1109 5th Avenue, New York

    WHY THIS SHOW MATTERS: Diane Arbus’s mysterious photograph “A Jewish giant at home with his parents, in the Bronx, N.Y., 1970” has been the subject of study and debate by scholars and historians for years. Now, the image is the centerpiece of the second exhibition in deputy director Jens Hoffmann’s series that showcases special objects from the Jewish Museum’s permanent collection, “Masterpieces & Curiosities.” “Diane Arbus’s Jewish Giant,” curated by Daniel S. Palmer, confronts the mythology surrounding Arbus’s iconic image of immigrant performer Eddie Carmel and his parents by sorting through the facts and fiction of his life, Arbus’s photographic process, and pop cultural narratives that explore the concepts of “normalcy” and “otherness” that the famous black and white photograph so strongly evoke. 

    Arbus’s photograph depicts Carmel hunched over and leaning on a cane while towering over his petite gawking parents in a dark, dramatically lit, and seemingly miniature modest living room. Rumors have circulated that the image is meant to show Carmel’s family’s awe and even horror at his monstrous size (which was due to a hormonal condition called acromegaly), but Palmer’s detective work clears a path towards Arbus’s true intentions. While walking through the exhibition, he told ARTINFO that the photographer’s relationship with Carmel and his family spanned 10 years, and the famous image was actually one of many taken during that session. Other photographs in the series (not included in the exhibition but used by Palmer for research) show a different side to the story, revealing Carmel standing tall and embracing his parents. They unravel the myth that his home life was out of the ordinary.

    The exhibition also includes family photos carefully framed and placed atop a mantel, providing intimate insight into Carmel’s life and the banality of his childhood. On the other side of the room a pair of oversized, misshapen shoes from his last years are placed close to the floor to allow viewers the chance to see the toll his condition took on his body.

    Palmer balances these artifacts with ephemera from Carmel’s stage performances, and even imagery of the biblical tales of Goliath and Golem. All together they drive home the point that notions of “otherness” have plagued society for centuries, and that Arbus’s photo is a prime example of how the mythology surrounding a work of art can outgrow the artist’s original concept.

    Click on the slideshow to see images from the exhibition.

    A correction to the second paragraph of this article was made on July 2, 2014.

    Shows That Matter: Unraveling the Mythology of "Diane Arbus's Jewish Giant"
    An installation view of Masterpieces & Curiosities: Diane Arbus’s Jewish Giant.

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    NYC Gives $23M to Arts Ed, Putin Bans Swear Words in Art, and More

    — NYC Gives $23 Million to Arts Education: New York City has allotted $23 million for arts education next year, which will be used to hire 120 new art teachers for underserved middle and high schools in the public school system and support partnerships with the city’s cultural institutions. Yesterday’s announcement at the Bronx Museum of the Arts also disclosed that $7.5 million of that sum would be used to repair and upgrade existing arts facilities in schools. Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “For too long, we had underinvested in arts education and cultural education in our schools. And it was time to right that wrong and do something aggressive about it.” [WNYCNY Daily News]

    Putin Bans Swear Words in Art: Russian president Vladimir Putin has just signed a new measure into law that bans swear words in art, film, and theater. The highly controversial law, which does not specifically define what constitutes profanity, has been interpreted as an effort by Putin to gain even more support from the Orthodox church. The law indicates that offenders will be fined and films containing obscenity will not be given distribution licenses. [AFP]

    — Sotheby’s to Auction Bunny Mellon Collection: Sotheby’s will auction off the collection of the late Rachel “Bunny” Lambert Mellon and her husband Paul Mellon beginning in November. The collection includes $100 million worth of art, jewelry, furniture, and decorative objects from the Mellons’ multiple residences in the U.S. and abroad. Highlights from the collection include paintings by Rothko and Diebenkorn that once hung in the National Gallery. [NYT]

    Creating a Koons Poem: LA Times critic Carolina A. Miranda mashed up reviews of Jeff Koons’s Whitney retrospective into a hallucinatory work of poetry. [LAT]

    Shipping Container Find: 20 works of art worth $4.5 million, including a piece by Os Gemeos, were found in a shipping container sent from Florida to Brazil, and authorities believe they are part of a tax evasion scheme. [TAN]

    BayeuxGets An End: After a year of work, embroiderers in Normandy have just finished a 10-foot-long addition to the Bayeux tapestry, which scholars believe is missing its end section. [BBC]

    — John Wilson has stepped down from his post as executive director of the Timken Museum of Art in San Diego. [Times of San Diego]

    — Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum is the first international museum to receive the BREEAM-NL In-Use sustainability certificate with a score of “Very Good” for building, management, and use. [Art Daily]

    — Today in appointment news, Katie Pfohl was named the LSU Museum of Art’s new curator and Dr. Vanja Malloy was appointed American Art curator at the Mead Museum of Art at Amherst College. [Post SouthArt Daily]

    ALSO ON ARTINFO

    A Brawny Market Lifts Sales at Christie's

    Kimono for a Modern Age to Open at LACMA

    The Met Resurrects Fall Fashion Exhibition with "Death Becomes Her"

    Shows That Matter: Unraveling the Mythology of "Diane Arbus's Jewish Giant"

    VIDEO: Tour the Pierre Soulages Museum in Rodez, France

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

    NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver visit a pre-K class

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    Gina Beavers's "Saturdate" at Retrospective

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    LONDON—Staggering to the finish line of a marathon art season, Phillips’s evening contemporary sale made a modest £9,920,750/$17,015,089 on Wednesday.

     

    The tiny sale, with just 27 lots on offer, landed midway between pre-sale expectations of £7.7-11.1 million/$13.2-19 million, with only four lots failing to sell, for a neat 15 percent buy-in rate. That trailed last June’s larger sale, which tallied £12.3/$18.8 million, with just eight percent unsold by lot. (Estimates do not reflect premiums and all sold prices include the buyer’s premium.)

    A single work sold for more than a million pounds and just six hurdled the million-dollar mark, indicating the light weight nature of the entries. A  single artist record was set.

     

    The brief evening kicked off with David Ostrowski’s large abstraction, “F (Gee Voucher)” from 2012, executed in acrylic, lacquer, and paper on canvas and nestled in the artist’s wooden frame, which sold for a record £170,500/$292,425 (est. £30-50,000). It was the third jumbo-sized Ostrowski to appear in this week’s evening sales, beating Sotheby’s “F (Dann Lieber Nein)” at £122,500/$208,434 and Christie’s same-titled work from the series, which sold for £104,500/$178,591.

    “Ours was bigger,” quipped Michael McGinnis, Phillips’s CEO, moments after the sale, “but I liked them all to be honest with you.”

     

    Phillips cannily packed the evening with works by younger, emerging artists who’ve entered the red hot secondary market, including Tauba Auerbach’s “Untitled (Fold)” from 2012, a creased canvas abstraction resembling in part the work of Piero Manzoni. It sold to an unidentified bidder in the room for  £386,500/$662,887 (est. £250-350,000).

    Auerbach is currently showcased at London’s Institute of Contemporary Art, no doubt a boon to her critical reputation and market strength.

     

    In similar fashion, Lucien Smith’s fire extinguisher work,“Boys Don’t Cry,” from 2012, in acrylic on unprimed canvas, sold to a telephone bidder for £116,500/$199,809 (est. £40-60,000).

    Typically with these younger artists, the houses place come-hither low estimates on the works, confident they’ll end up flying higher.

     

    Though the evening was a kind of miniature day-sale version of what goes on at Christie’s and Sotheby’s, the room was decidedly younger and hipper looking, including a couple seated toward the back of the salesroom with a baby carriage nestled next to their aisle seats.

    The beat went on as a relatively small-scaled 46 ½-by-47 ¼-inch Rudolf Stingel text-scratched composition, “Untitled” from 2012, executed in electroformed copper, plated nickel, and gold, drew four telephone bidders, making £842,500/$1,444,973 (est. £400-600,00). The word ‘CONFIDENCE’ was scratched into the surface and coursed down the center of the canvas, perhaps  a beacon of the current market.

     

    It was backed by a third-party guarantee, meaning a collector or investor outside of Phillips assured the work would sell no matter what happened in the salesroom.

    Phillips assembled pieces by all the right names in the market now, including Wade Guyton’s large-scale “Untitled” Epson Ultrachrome ink jet on linen from 2007, which brought £602,500/$1,033,348 (est. £500-700,000). It appeared in the artist’s 2008 solo show at Galerie Chantal Crousel in Paris, one of his five primary-market galleries. The 84 3/8 by 69 1/8 inch canvas also carried a financial guarantee.

     

    Examples of latest and greatest names continued to roll out as Mark Bradford’s lattice-like composition, “An Opening on the Left” from 2010, in mixed media collage on canvas, sold to another telephone bidder for a healthy £698,500/$1,197,998 (est. £400-600,000), and Sterling Ruby’s mural-scaled “SP33” abstraction from 2008, in acrylic and spray paint on canvas, squeaked by on a telephone bid at  £542,500/$930,442 (est. £500-700,000). You might call the Ruby a poor man’s Richter Abstraktes Bild.

    Jacob Kassay’s shimmering monochrome “Untitled” from 2012, in acrylic and silver deposit on canvas, scaled at 84 by 60 inches, also attracted a number telephone bidders, going for £164,500/$282,134 (est. £120-180,000).

     

    A market sensation just a few seasons ago when he electrified wannabe collectors pursuing the next big thing, Kassay seems to have dimmed a bit in terms of desirability.

    Big abstractions may have the favorite entries of the evening, as Mark Flood’s kaleidoscopic abstraction “Mineral” from 2003, grandly scaled at 95 7/8 by 72 ¼ inches, sold to another telephone for £86,500/$148,356 (est. £30-50,000).

     

    On the sculpture front, Anthony Gormley’s milled-steel bar “Domain XI (Freefall)” from 2000, capturing the sensation and visage of a falling man, sold to yet another telephone bidder for £182,500/$313,006 (est. £150-250,000). Anish Kapoor’s distorting “Untitled” from 2008, a large-scale, deckle-edged disc in stainless steel with a mirror-like finish, sold over the telephone for £812,500/$1,393,520 (est. £600-800,000). New York art advisor Kim Heirston was the underbidder.

    ”Everyone is fairly fried,” said Heirston as she left the salesroom, referring to the market players, “and all of my clients are either on their boats or relaxing around their pools.”

     

    Asked about the atmosphere in the salesroom, Heirston said, “I couldn’t get over how young the audience looks.”

    The youth factor was particularly in evidence as Damien Hirst’s butterfly painting “Lucy” from 2008-9, comprised of butterflies, cubic zirconia, and household gloss painting canvas, came up. It sold for £290,500/$498,237 (est. £150-250,000) to a young woman bidding in the second row.

     

    “I live in Beirut,” said buyer, Dida Ahmad, as she exited the Howick Place salesroom where Phillips has conducted sales since 2006. “This is the first Hirst in our collection.  I got it for not a bad price because people were focusing on other things.”

    Of the relatively few blue-chip brand works, the cover lot, Andy Warhol’s late “fright wig series” “Self-Portrait” from 1986, sold to a telephone bidder for £2,882,500/$4,943,779. The 22-by-22 inch canvas was last offered at Phillips de Pury & Company in November 2011, but failed to sell.

     

    A larger, 90-by-70 inch version with the same shocking pink face color sold at Skarstedt Gallery's stand at Art Basel last month for a price understood to be in the $30-million range. Size matters.

    Richard Prince’s mural-scaled joke painting, “My Life as a Weapon” from 2007, in acrylic and collage on canvas, sold to another telephone bidder for £680,500/$1,167,126 (est. £550-750,000).

     

    Midway through the bidding on the Prince, auctioneer Alexander Gilkes once again caved in to the niggling demands of the room and agreed to split the bid increment in half, an option the auctioneer can either take or refuse.

    There was a kind of nostalgic feel to the evening, since it was the last auction to take place in the firm’s gigantic, 19th-century former postal collecting station; future sales will be held in its posh new quarters on Berkeley Square.

     

    “This is the end of an era,” said New Yorker Michael McGinnis after the sale. “Berkeley Square will be our uptown version.”

    At Phillips, a Modest Contemporary Sale Appeals to the Young
    Andy Warhol's "Self-Portrait," 1

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    Far East Hospitality blends the retro and contemporary in a new look Rendezvous Hotel dedicated to art

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    Originally opened in 1997, Singapore’s Rendezvous Hotel is one of the city’s most representative hotels, located at the edge of the famed Orchard Road shopping street with an art-deco style façade atop colonial-esque architecture at the origin of Bras Basah Road.

    Now with an art-inspired rejuvenation, the hotel boasts a boutique feel blends retro and contemporary, making it ideal for travellers and design enthusiasts.

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    The transformation of the property comes courtesy of Far East Hospitality, a group that continues to add to its portfolio of hotels in Singapore – including The Quincy Hotel, The Elizabeth Hotel, and Village Hotel Katong – but who have stayed clear of the downside that is repetition throughout multiple properties by ensuring each hotel is very much its own.

    And for Rendezvous, that meant a new look that takes cues from the art and cultural area of Bras Basah.

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    Immediately upon walking in to the reception area, its clear the dedication to art is far from passive – statues and sculptures create atmosphere in the space, giving the lobby a feeling of human presence even when empty. This was achieved by the hotels aim to utilize a concept of art as A.R.T. – Attitude, Retro and Technology.

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    According to Mr Arthur Kiong, Chief Executive Officer of Far East Hospitality, “entrenched in the Museum Planning Area of Singapore, Rendezvous Hotel Singapore offers its guests convenient access to several popular art galleries and museums. The location made it an easy and natural decision to create a sensory experience that is in line with Singapore’s promotion of the arts and cultural precinct in the Civic District."

    "Guests who are looking to experience creative stimulus will be thrilled to find that our hotel is dedicated to evoking the sense and sensibility of their inner artist.”

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    The library-cum-bar in the lobby area is perhaps the focal point of the renovation, a space that blends casual and funky with grace, its armchairs themselves curious works of art shaped as oversized human heads, backed by sheer curtains and mellow lighting that balance the plasma TV screens that present art in motion.

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    Rendezvous is planning to be active member of the local art scene too, with collaborations with new and established artists planned to build the venue into an “art hothouse.” Dedicated spaces in the lobby and level two for presentations by local art galleries are part of the new look hotels remit, with works for viewing and sale.

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    Other touches around the hotel that enhance the art-experience include a wall panel running floor-to-ceiling behind the reception desk which changes color tone throughout the say, working in sync with the entire reception area where the color palette changes from a daytime warmth of orange, purple and magenta, to a soothing evening feel of yellow, cyan and deep blue.

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    The hotel façade will itself be used to display “interactive anamorphic art,” so that pedestrians too can view the works of local artists. Guests will also get special entry rates to museums in the area, including The Asian Civilisation Museum and the Singapore Philatelic Museum.

    The hotel has 298 rooms and a special club floor, and more information can be found here: Rendezvous Hotel Singapore

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    VIDEO: FAPE Debuts Hamptons Exhibit with Joel Shapiro, Tina Barney, and More

    EAST HAMPTON, NY — For the first time since its inception in 1986, collections from the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE) are on public view at the Museum at Guild Hall, featuring works by more than 200 renowned American artists.

    From Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichenstein, to Alex Katz, the exhibition, presented in association with Christie’s, features original prints, photographs, and site-specific models donated by the artists to FAPE and placed in U.S. embassies around the world.

    “Most Americans are unaware of this program because most of the works are displayed at embassies far from home,” said Robert Storr, curator and chairman of FAPE’s Professional Fine Arts Committee. “What we’re doing is we’re making available the richness of the visual culture of this country.”

    The exhibition space is divided into two distinct spaces. One of the halls is dedicated to FAPE’s site-specific installations, while the other focuses on the original print and photography collection.

    The photography collection is the newest initiative by the non-profit organization, inaugurated by Tina Barney and William Wegman. Barney donated her 2007 chromogenic color print “Color Guard,” where she captured young parade participants in revolutionary garb awaiting their turn to march. “There’s a kind of synchronization between everything that’s happening,” said Barney. “To get that is one in a million.” 

    In the site-specific exhibition, drawings, photographs, and maquettes for the large-scale works are presented in the Guild Hall. Among the highlights is sculptor Joel Shapiro’s “Now (2013),” a striking blue figurative installation created for the new U.S. Consulate in Guangzhou, China.

    The exhibition at the Museum at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street in East Hampton, New York, is on view through July 27.

    Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies (FAPE)

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    “I know it when I see it,” said Gina Beavers, accidentally quoting Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart from 1964, weighing in on how he instinctually identifies hard-core pornography. It’s an amusing coincidence considering that Beavers is talking about the gut feeling she gets when trawling Instagram photos hashtagged “foodporn,” hunting for compositionally appropriate source material for her paintings. A range of them were recently on view at Retrospective in Hudson, New York: sculpturally thick renderings of the original images, depicting things like pastries, bread loafs, and lobster claws. (Beavers also has a work in the current Zach Feuer group show, “Don’t Look Now,” and in another exhibition at Andrew Edlin Gallery.) In some cases the square images are singular; more recently, Beavers has been experimenting with reproducing the multi-faceted, gridded shots that Instagram users can create using third-party apps. (“They can’t get enough angles of the kimchi hot dogs!” Beavers said, referring to one painting based on an image in which the foodstuff in question is obsessively explored from all sides.)

    These paintings aren’t simple reproductions of the ubiquitous “this is what I ate today” images shared via social media. “If I paint something directly from a photo it looks like a copy,” she explained. Beavers constructs a base for the image, generally using thickened acrylic medium that she carves and moves with a simple plastic deli knife. Once the representative shapes are built, she paints on top of them; the finished works have a lumpy, physical quality, as if you could indeed scoop them off the wall and devour them. The artist mixes in various other agents in order to achieve specific effects, like the dappled skin on raw duck legs. Beaver’s topographic surfaces have a gnarly depth, flirting with intentional kitsch, a bit like the dimensional tableaux of Lynn Foulkes. “Building up [the work] interferes with my ability,” she said. “It looks a little more handmade. The painting is trying to mess with me, and I’m trying to calm and tame it.”

    For a September solo exhibition at Clifton Benevento in New York, Beavers is moving away from the restaurant table. She’s still primarily mining Instagram feeds for source material, though the selections are more eclectic: A shot of old carburetors; a gridded image of statue-genitalia snapped at the Getty Villa. She’s toying with some other possible photographs, including one of a pair of female hands holding dice, with nails painted to match the black-on-white patterning. One in-progress painting hanging in the studio is based on a “how-to” image describing how to apply make-up to create a “smoky eye” look, she said. That one “reminds me of what it feels like to make a painting,” she noted. “You’re using brushes, trying to make yourself look appealing. It’s evolutionary: Mate with my painting!” She’s still pondering how to sculpturally represent the eye’s lashes, perhaps using bits of cut rubber tire, or strips of colored acrylic.

    This built-up, hands-on process comes from what Beavers termed a “crafty impulse,” part of which she traces to her father — a retired hobbyist who builds mostly military-themed model installations out of simple materials. Her own practice is similarly obsessive and labor-intensive, albeit focused on what she admits is the transient, eternally in-flux world of social media. “There’s something perverse about poring over all these half-meaningless, never-ending photos, and putting all this work into it,” Beavers admitted of her practice, which might artfully memorialize a stranger’s ephemeral snapshot of a lobster dinner as a painting with real-world weight and permanence.

    Does she think that the Internet has changed our brains, the way we process the world around us, I wondered? Beavers, who studied anthropology before turning to art, answers with a maxim borrowed from that field: “Things are never getting better and they’re never getting worse,” she said. “They’re just what they are. We are test cases in this weird experiment — and what’s going to be the end result?” In the attention-deficit of digital oversharing via social media, Beaver’s strange, unwieldy paintings — her peculiar, delectable perversion — might simply be a way of hitting pause, of investing everyday images with humorous significance, one layer of acrylic medium at a time.  

    Gina Beavers Hits Pause on the Everyday World of Oversharing
    Gina Beavers in her studio

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    Why "A Hard Day's Night" Is Still the Best Pop Music Movie Ever Made

    “A Hard Day’s Night,” Richard Lester’s landmark film featuring the Beatles, released 50 years ago this week, is an anomaly — a music film that’s actually good. The film will be presented in a new 4K digital restoration, approved by Lester and running July 4-17 at Film Forum in New York City. The Criterion Collection has also released the same restoration this week on DVD, with a smattering of bonus features.

    Essentially an extended promotional tool shot in six weeks in an attempt to capitalize on the growing, and what most thought was soon to end, wave of popularity the group was riding, the result was something more than simply an advertisement. “A Hard Day’s Night” was a genuinely funny, meta-film (before the term even existed) that was subversively anti-establishment and cemented the public image of the group for the rest of their existence.

    Later on, that image might have been to their detriment. Because really, when we think of the Beatles, don’t we think of the group running down the street being chased by a flock of female teenage fans? The teeny-bobber image they were slapped with — something that is both mocked and celebrated in the film — became such a burden that they spent the second half of their short career trying to find ways to work against it through sonic and lyrical experimentation.

    I am not a huge fan of the Beatles, or at least I don’t think of them as infallible. I’ve argued quite frequently, usually after a drink or three, that all four members produced better music during their solo careers (well, maybe except for Ringo). Without the argument sounding too generalized — it’s pointless to deny that the group made great music during all periods of their existence — my feeling has always been that there was a vitality the Fab Four achieved early on that was missing from their later material, especially as they splintered but were still presented as a cohesive whole.

    One of the great things about “A Hard Day’s Night” is that it’s a portrait of the Beatles as a perfect circle, four brothers in arms. This is 1964 — just a few months prior they made their historic appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and the film was released a week before the group’s first large-scale American tour. It was a big year, maybe the biggest in the band’s history, and the first clang of the guitar that begins the film is like the firing of a starting pistol.

    The music in the film, which includes some of the Beatles’ most well known songs — the title song, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “She Loves You” — has been discussed to death, and it’s almost beside the point here. The music in “A Hard Day’s Night” is just a framing device; it’s only there because it has to be. You get the sense that, if the band had it their way, there would be no music at all. And there certainly doesn’t need to be any music: The Beatles are more than sufficient comedic performers, and it’s this aspect of the film that continues to ring true today. I hadn’t seen the “A Hard Day’s Night” in many years — I’ve always preferred their 1965 film “Help,” even if it’s not as funny and much goofier — but watching it again recently I was struck by the relentless pace of the comedy. Jokes are layered on top of more jokes and they’re delivered at breakneck speed, giving the whole film a surreal and unsettling comedic edge.

    Much of this had to do with the man behind the camera. Richard Lester had previously worked with Peter Sellers — it was a film he made with Sellers and Spike Milligan in 1960 that won over the Beatles — and would, in between his two features for the group, make one of the most brilliant comedies ever made, “The Knack… and How to Get It.” The particular style of comedy Lester helped pioneer — wildly discursive, anti-authoritarian, surreal, and running at full-speed — was matched in “A Hard Day’s Night” with an equally loose visual style, combining a documentary realism with snappy editing. It’s what ultimately makes the film more than a long music video and undoubtedly the finest pop music movie ever made. 

    Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr and John Lennon in Richard Lester's

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    Highlights From the Hamptons Summer Art Calendar

    The Hamptons are known as a placid summer retreat, but a plethora of art events imbue the renowned beach communities with a feverish art-fair atmosphere. Here are a few calendar highlights:

    July 10-13

    Despite all the activity, “people are more relaxed in the Hamptons,” according to Rick Friedman, director of the seven-year-old ArtHamptons, the most established of the events. This year’s theme, Escape, equates mental states induced by visual art with the Hamptons landscape. The motif extends throughout the fair’s venue, the Sculpture Fields at Nova’s Ark, the 95-acre former Bridgehampton home and studio of artist Nova Mihai Popa, manifesting in exhibitor booths such as that of Tibor de Nagy Gallery, where Jane Freilicher’s romantic landscapes will be on view.

    July 10-13

    The edgier ArtMrkt Hamptons offers 35 exhibitors at the Bridgehampton Historical Society. “It’s definitely the most curated fair,” says East Hampton dealer Eric Firestone of the participating galleries. He is showing paintings by Bäst and photographs by Tseng Kwong Chi.

    July 12

    Amid exhibitions devoted to Jennifer Bartlett and Maya Lin, the Parrish Art Museum’s Midsummer Party honors philanthropist Inga Maren Otto and filmmaker Katharina Otto-Bernstein.

    July 19

    Cindy Sherman and Agnes Gund are the celebrated guests at the LongHouse Reserve’s midsummer gala.

    July 24-28

    Art Southampton has its third outing on the 18-acre estate behind the town’s Elks Lodge, adjacent to the Southampton Golf Club, with 75 galleries on board. Returnees include Hollis Taggart Gallery, showing paintings by the late American abstractionist Sam Francis; and Dillon Gallery, with works by Warhol muse Ultra Violet and Leah Yerpe’s monochromatic figurative drawings.

    July 26

    The nocturnally themed One Thousand Nights and One Night/Sleepless Nights of Sheherazade summer benefit for Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center promises installations, performances, an auction, and a creatively chic dress code.

    August 8

    The Guild Hall Summer Gala ends the season seriously with a celebration of Robert Motherwell’s East Hampton years.

    A version of this article appears in the July/August 2014 issue of Art+Auction magazine.  

    Highlights From the Hamptons Summer Art Calendar - ArtHamptons

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    WHAT: “Masterpieces & Curiosities: Diane Arbus’s Jewish Giant”
    WHEN: April 11-August 3
    WHERE: The Jewish Museum, 1109 5th Avenue, New York

    WHY THIS SHOW MATTERS: Diane Arbus’s mysterious photograph “A Jewish giant at home with his parents, in the Bronx, N.Y., 1970” has been the subject of study and debate by scholars and historians for years. Now, the image is the centerpiece of the second exhibition in deputy director Jens Hoffmann’s series that showcases special objects from the Jewish Museum’s permanent collection, “Masterpieces & Curiosities.” “Diane Arbus’s Jewish Giant,” curated by Daniel S. Palmer, confronts the mythology surrounding Arbus’s iconic image of immigrant performer Eddie Carmel and his parents by sorting through the facts and fiction of his life, Arbus’s photographic process, and pop cultural narratives that explore the concepts of “normalcy” and “otherness” that the famous black and white photograph so strongly evoke. 

    Arbus’s photograph depicts Carmel hunched over and leaning on a cane while towering over his petite gawking parents in a dark, dramatically lit, and seemingly miniature modest living room. Rumors have circulated that the image is meant to show Carmel’s family’s awe and even horror at his monstrous size (which was due to a hormonal condition called acromegaly), but Palmer’s detective work clears a path towards Arbus’s true intentions. While walking through the exhibition, he told ARTINFO that the photographer’s relationship with Carmel and his family spanned 10 years, and the famous image was actually one of many taken during that session. Other photographs in the series (not included in the exhibition but used by Palmer for research) show a different side to the story, revealing Carmel standing tall and embracing his parents. They unravel the myth that his home life was out of the ordinary.

    The exhibition also includes family photos carefully framed and placed atop a mantel, providing intimate insight into Carmel’s life and the banality of his childhood. On the other side of the room a pair of oversized, misshapen shoes from his last years are placed close to the floor to allow viewers the chance to see the toll his condition took on his body.

    Palmer balances these artifacts with ephemera from Carmel’s stage performances, and even imagery of the biblical tales of Goliath and Golem. All together they drive home the point that notions of “otherness” have plagued society for centuries, and that Arbus’s photo is a prime example of how the mythology surrounding a work of art can outgrow the artist’s original concept.

    Click on the slideshow to see images from the exhibition.

    A correction to the second paragraph of this article was made on July 2, 2014.

    Shows That Matter: Unraveling the Mythology of "Diane Arbus's Jewish Giant"
    An installation view of Masterpieces & Curiosities: Diane Arbus’s Jewish Giant.

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    — Yoko Ono Sings for Chicks on Speed: The German band Chicks on Speed has invited Fluxus artist and activist Yoko Ono to contribute to their latest album, “Artstravaganza,” along with Austrian theorist Peter Weibel and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Ono will be featured on their first single, “Utopia,” saying the phrase “unite and focus on what we want and we will get it, one of the things is peace, because we don’t want a violent world.” The group plans to perform selections from the album at White CubeWitte de With, and MoMA PS1. [TAN]

    — Frank Gehry’s Philly Museum Plans Unveiled: After eight years, Frank Gehry’s designs for the Philadelphia Museum of Art have been unveiled in a new exhibition at the museum. The designs don’t alter the exterior of the famous neoclassical building much, instead revamping the interior and subterranean sections, most notably the iconic “Rocky” steps. Gehry’s plans eliminate an auditorium under the grand staircase, restore the museum’s northern entrance, and put a window through the “Rocky” steps to gallery spaces beneath. “My mission was to preserve the appearance of the exterior. Anything I’d do to put my signature on the building would be trivial,” Gehry told the Philadelphia Inquirer. [LAT]

    — El Salvador’s Presidential Mansion Becomes a Museum: El Salvador’s new president and former rebel leader, Sanchez Ceren, has turned the presidential mansion into a museum and arts center for the city’s poor. Ceren has elected to live in his own house, which is reportedly in a more middle class area of San Salvador. Forty-five works by Salvadoran artists are on view and the president described the revamped residence as a “place to gather and reflect on El Salvador’s identity and everyday life.” [Aljazeera]

    — Artists Paint Warships: As part of the Liverpool Biennial, contemporary artists Tobias Rehberger and Carlos Cruz-Diez have been asked to “dazzle” warships on the occasion of World War I’s 100th anniversary. [TAN]

    — Domino Sugar Docent: Here’s a profile of Robert Shelton, the only docent at Kara Walker’s Domino Sugar Factory installation to have actually worked at the factory. [The Atlantic]

    — The Art Newspaper Has Two Pieces On Art World Sexism: First, Jori Finkel checks in with Micol Hebron’s gallery gender tally project. Second, Royal Academician Eileen Cooper has asked for “positive discrimination” to bring more women into the Academy. [TANTAN]

    — The Pérez Art Museum is seeking $2.5 million in government support, which would leave taxpayers to cover a third of next year’s budget. [Miami Herald]

    — Art dealer Yvon Lambert has announced he will close his Parisian art gallery to focus on his foundation, the Collection Lambert en Avignon. [Artforum]

    — The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi will celebrate the opening of its first Frank Gehry-designed pod this week. [Sun Herald]

    ALSO ON ARTINFO

    10 Must-See Summer Group Shows

    Review: Louise Lawler at Metro Pictures

    Review: Dinh Q. Lê at Rice University Art Gallery

    Instagrams of the Art World: Manifesta Opens, Michael Jackson at Pride, Pharrell, and More

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

    Yoko Sings With Chicks on Speed, Gehry's Philly Museum Plans, and More
    Chicks on Speed and Yoko Ono

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    Amanda Coulson On Curating and Caribbean Stereotypes

    Modern Painters spoke with Amanda Coulson—director of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas and the VOLTA art fair—about Caribbean culture, experiential art, and which critic she’d have a Scotch with.

    What’s the most rewarding aspect of your role at the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas? What’s the most challenging or frustrating?

    The most rewarding is easy: Everything I do has a direct effect on the community and can actually change lives in a meaningful way. The challenge is being in a country that does not yet fully realize the treasure it has in its cultural output, why it’s even important, and why anyone should care about it. It is slowly changing with the government sanctioning our participation at the Venice Biennale, for example, or “Creative Nassau” being launched after an application to UNESCO, which is developing a tourism model to ensure that by 2020 more visitors come for our culture than our sun, sand, and sea. But the most frustrating is a general lack of vision beyond the 21- by 9-mile circumference of the capital city/island of Nassau, New Providence, as well as not recognizing the importance of being aware of what’s happening in the rest of the world, or inviting the rest of the world in.

    In general, what’s one misconception that people might have about the art scene in the Caribbean?

    The misconception is clear: How can there be critical thinking? Conceptual art? Isn’t it all “tourist” or “native/naive” art? This rather condescending assumption is, however, something we are largely responsible for perpetuating ourselves due to what is close to idolatry of our massive tourism industry, which leads to our own self-stereotyping. Generally, the images that the Bahamas—and much of the Caribbean region—tends to transmit to the world confirms this. Maurizio Cattelan’s Caribbean Biennale, which offered “ten chosen artists a one-week vacation on the enchanting island of St. Kitts, with no art and no work to do” really didn’t help much and was, for a person of Caribbean descent, pretty offensive, because where else in the world do you, as a rule, sit around all day under a palm tree getting drunk and being nonproductive, right? The potential power of that platform, those people, the kind of publicity it generated, could have been used positively to actually uncover something of value that we, with our limited budgets, cultural visitors, and tiny populations, simply don’t have the press power to transmit. But we are not seen as a working, thinking, cultured people; we are seen—at worst—as stoners, drug lords, or money launderers and—at best—as bartenders or jolly fisherman taking James Bond out in our picturesque wooden boats.

    Again, I underscore that we ourselves are complicit in perpetuating this image, so I don’t blame the non-“Belongers.” One curator, walking out of Tavares Strachan’s Bahamian Pavilion in Venice last year said to me, very innocently, “Wow, that was surprising. It was so conceptual…” and I just had to reply, “Yes, it really is surprising that we actually have concepts down there, isn’t it?” I started my own private project photographing work at art fairs and international galleries that, if I were to say it was Bahamian, would be laughed out of the art market: Day-Glo starfish on top of mirror-topped oil drums; giant metal flamingos; “conceptual” coconut, bone, and stone art. But if it’s produced by an artist in Berlin or London, then it’s conceptual or perhaps ironic. Meanwhile, I also come across lots of piles of abandoned crap on street corners here, or really clever MacGyver-style inventions—like some contraption for getting enough well water to your home in one trip—that would look amazing in a white cube. It’s very entertaining.

    What is one trend in contemporary art that you celebrate? What’s one that you wish would gracefully be retired?

    Celebrate: experiential art, whether it be about perception (Olafur Eliasson, James Turrell), scale  (Richard Serra! Spiral Jetty) or ephemerality (Tino Sehgal). Retire: insider art, and by that I mean work that you can only possibly understand if you are deeply aware of the market and belong to a relatively small and exclusive group of people. It can be funny and very clever but, ultimately, is a little self-serving and almost masturbatory.

    Which art world personality, alive or dead, would you want to have a drink with? What might you discuss (and what would you drink)?

    Robert Hughes. His Jesuit education made him such a clear and muscular writer. He never resorted to the use of jargon as a crutch, which many critics do. Goya is one of the best art history books ever written, as far as I’m concerned. I suppose, given he was a macho Australian boy, we’d have to drink something equally macho, like a good Scotch with no ice.

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

    Amanda Coulson

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