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    250 Best Auction Houses: Focus on Tokyo

    In a special summer issue of Art+Auction, which will be published in installments on ARTINFO this month, we bring you the information you need to navigate the vast auction market. We’ve assembled the top 250 houses, along with some of their most notable sales, as well as insider takes from 50 CEOs and specialists on the past year and the changes ahead. Below you’ll find Q&As with auction house leaders based in Tokyo. To see other installments from the special issue, click here

    EST-OUEST AUCTIONS
    Tokyo, Japan; Hong Kong, China
    ESTABLISHED1984
    SPECIALTIESJapanese art and antiques, 19th-century decorative arts, postwar and contemporary art
    CONTACT: est-ouest.co.jp, info@est-ouest.co.jp, +81 3 5791 3131

    Takashi Seki, President

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    Our 2014 Autumn Sale Hong Kong, held on November 28 and 29, 2014, at the Renaissance Hong Kong Harbor View Hotel. Total gross sales for the two-day auction exceeded HKD28 million ($3.6 million).

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    Auguste Rodin’s bronze sculpture L’un des bourgeois de Calais: Pierre de Wissant, vêtu, grand modèle, which reached HKD7.74 million ($998,000) at the 2014 Autumn Sale.

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now? Something you’d invest in?
    Japanese antiques, especially traditional handcrafts, which have exquisite technique and aesthetic consciousness. We hope those antiques will be valuated properly in the international market.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    We just launched our online bidding this spring, so we’ll see how it goes.

    What other trends do you see influencing the market?
    Kodo, or “the way of fragrance.” It’s the art of appreciating Chinese and Japanese incense, which originated in ancient China. Due to the recent [development] of a wealthy class in China, agalloch wood and agarwood of high quality have set remarkable sales records in our recent auctions. 

    ***

    MALLET JAPAN
    Tokyo, Japan
    ESTABLISHED: 2005
    SPECIALTIES: Japanese fine art
    CONTACT: mallet.co.jp, info@mallet.co.jp, +81 3 5635 1777

    Tomoaki Takahashi, President

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    Our last auction [in July] was the most successful in the recent few years.

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    Lot 87: Atsuko Tanaka. It achieved a hammer price of Y120 million ($973,000), which was a new auction record for any painting by the artist.

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now?Something you’d invest in?
    There has been remarkable increase in the demand for Japanese postwar art, including Gutai, Art Informel, and Mono-ha. In this category, I believe further growth is anticipated.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    We have not yet adopted online bidding systems. We are thinking about using it in the near future.

    What other trends do you see influencing the market?
    The development of information networks, such as social networking sites, has enabled people to know what is happening now in the world. For example, a collector in Tokyo can tell how successful today’s exhibition in New York is. It has allowed the market to react even faster.

    What part of your business saw the most growth in 2014?
    Again, sales of Japanese postwar art, which had been underestimated for the past few decades until 2013, drastically rose.

    Where would you like to take the company in the next several years? 
    I want Mallet to be even more accessible to people around the world and more reliable.

    Do you have a collecting obsession? If so, what purchase are you most proud of?
    Of course I do. One of my favorites is a painting by Karel Appel.

    Have you ever wildly overpaid for something you bought yourself? 
    Yes, I have, sad to say. In fact, I often lose my mind when I am bidding.

    ***

    SBI ART AUCTION
    Tokyo, Japan
    ESTABLISHED: 2011
    SPECIALTIES: Modern and contemporary art 
    CONTACT: sbiartauction.co.jp, artauction@sbigroup.co.jp, +81 3 3527 6692

    Rei Kagami, Manager

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    The latest auction, on April 18, 2015, saw the best-ever sale in our history. We made Y411,734,500 ($3.5 million).

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    A painting by Kazuo Shiraga which was sold for Y110,400,000 ($927,000), about two and a half times the lower estimate.

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now? Something you’d invest in?
    There are many artists from the postwar period of the 1950s and 1960s. It’s only recently that overseas researchers and collectors have shed light on those artists, beginning from Gutai, Mono-ha, and High Red Center. And there are more artists outside those groups who produced marvelous works of art.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    We are about to start an online bidding service this summer. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to provide more speedy sales to sellers—that they can get [their] money quicker—and that we’ll be able to sell lower-priced works more effectively.

    What other trends do you see influencing the market?
    With a very weak yen, we are getting more inquiries from overseas clients. At the same time, Japanese clients are also getting stronger, backed up by a strong domestic economic climate.

    What part of your business saw the most growth in 2014?
    The auction business. We used to be more focused on private sales, but the auction sales figure surpassed [them].

    Where would you like to take the company in the next several years?
    We would like to cultivate more Japanese clients, both buyers and sellers. Also, we would like to do more curated special sales—for example, we’re planning a Music+Art sale this year.

    What one thing do you wish more collectors knew?
    The latest trends in the art scene, both domestic and international. In particular, I think it’s highly important for Japanese collectors to follow and support domestic artists.

    Have you ever wildly overpaid for something you bought yourself? 
    What I mostly buy are young artists’ works that are priced fairly low. They’re not suitable for resale in the market, but I don’t think I’ve overpaid.

    250 Best Auction Houses 2015

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    250 Best Auction Houses: Focus on Seoul

    In a special summer issue of Art+Auction, which will be published in installments on ARTINFO this month, we bring you the information you need to navigate the vast auction market. We’ve assembled the top 250 houses, along with some of their most notable sales, as well as insider takes from 50 CEOs and specialists on the past year and the changes ahead. Below you’ll find a Q&A with an auction house leader based in Seoul. To see other installments from the special issue, click here

    K AUCTION
    Seoul, South Korea
    ESTABLISHED: 2005
    SPECIALTIES: Modern and contemporary Korean art, Korean antiques, traditional artifacts
    CONTACT: k-auction.com, art@k-auction.com, +82 2 3479 8810

    Lee Sang-kyu, CEO

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    There was a special themed auction, titled Chun Jae-kook Art Collection, which was a white-glove sale. The Korean government nominated K Auction as the official auction house to sell the collection of former president Chun Doo Hwan. The total of 235 pieces presented, estimated to be worth more than KRW3.7 billion ($3 million), ranged from traditional Korean masterpieces to early modern Korean works [by artists] such as Kim Whanki. The star lot was Kim Whanki’s 24-VIII-65 South East, a 1965 work estimated at KRW450 million to KRW800 million ($424–753,000). The painting shows a stylistic transition to abstraction which the artist made while living in New York.

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    [A 1978 acrylic on canvas] by Chung Sang Hwa achieved the astounding hammer price of HKD380,000 ($49,000), nearly double the high estimate. The bidding was fierce in the room, and we were all pleasantly surprised and excited at the same time, as the interest in Korean monochrome was not strong.

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now? Something you’d invest in?
    In terms of investing, we strongly recommend Korean monochromes by monochrome pioneers such as Chung Sang Hwa, Park Seo Bo, and Yun Hyoung Geun. Their works are extremely sought after at the moment. Other recommendations would be works by Lee Dong Youb and Kwon Young Woo. Their works on paper and sculptures could be considered good value for the money. With the strong appreciation of other works executed on canvas, there is most certainly room for growth in the prices.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    Our online auctions offer lots in a more affordable price range, in order to encourage our clients to build broader and more diverse collections. We offer offline previews just as with offline sales. We believe that this has enabled us to reach out to collectors in a wider spectrum and that it offers collectors a more accessible auction platform, consequently boosting sales growth.

    What other trends do you see influencing the market?
    We had a very profitable first half of the year with unmatched interest in Korean monochrome. The emergence of Korean monochromes in the global art scene generated more interest in Korean abstraction in general. We definitely feel that our clients are paying more attention, and we hope for market growth in the second half of the year.

    What part of your business saw the most growth in 2014?
    We’ve had eight online auctions already this year, more than one per month, and we’ve been very successful, with an average of 80 percent of lots being sold.

    Where would you like to take the company in the next several years?
    K Auction aims to promote the excellence of Korean art by hosting sales abroad. Previously, K Auction has conducted joint auctions in Hong Kong in alliance with other Asian auction houses under the name of United Asian Auctioneers [formerly AAW]. On March 15, K Auction held its inaugural solo auction. As a pioneer in the Korean online auction market since 2006, K Auction aims to stimulate the market by offering a more frequent auction schedule and affordable lots of high quality. Moreover, we have expanded into other areas, such as jewelry, watches, and musical instruments.

    250 Best Auction Houses 2015

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    250 Best Auction Houses: Conversation with Daniel Lam of Bonhams

    In a special summer issue of Art+Auction, which will be published in installments on ARTINFO this month, we bring you the information you need to navigate the vast auction market. We’ve assembled the top 250 houses, along with some of their most notable sales, as well as insider takes from 50 CEOs and specialists on the past year and the changes ahead. To see other installments from the special issue, click here.

    Hong Kong’s thirst for fine wine belies its size: last year it imported more than a billion dollars’ worth, and as the only duty-free market for wine, it’s become one of the world’s largest auction hubs, reexporting a substantial proportion of its imports to mainland China and throughout Asia. Daniel Lam brought his deep knowledge of wine and his experience at five-star Hong Kong hotels such as the Grand Hyatt and the Conrad to the Bonhams team in 2008—and pioneered Hong Kong’s first whiskey and cognac auctions. We talked to the Bonhams wine specialist about the best of the Japanese whiskeys and about the only thing you need to start a great wine collection.

    Wine and spirits auctions are still relatively new in Hong Kong. Do you see differences in collectors’ tastes and attitudes relative to the West?
    Compared to Europe’s traditional wine auction history, Hong Kong is still considered a youthful market, with less than 10 years since the exemption of wine duty in 2008. However, in terms of collectors’ preferences and knowledge, Hong Kong wine collectors have dramatically improved their knowledge and their acceptance of various wine types, and I find them to be not much different from U.S. or U.K. wine collectors. Hong Kong collectors are very much in line with current global trends toward quality Burgundy, highly drinkable vintages of Bordeaux, and top-notch Rhône producers who produce subtle, classy wines like Raya or Guigal. Needless to mention, with strong demand on U.S. cult wines, I’ve also sensed the increasing popularity of German off-dry Riesling.

    What’s essential to building a great wine collection? 
    Prerequisite for a great wine collection is to have a proper storage facility with the temperature ranging from 13 to 15 degrees Celsius and a humidity-controlled environment. Wine collecting can be a lifelong process; often collectors may shift their wine preferences over time. I don’t think there are fixed rules for a great wine collection, as long as you’re enjoying it.

    Japanese whiskey has increasingly had a large place in auctions. What makes it unique? What are your own favorite brands and releases?
    Top names among Japanese whiskey distilleries are Karuizawa and Hanyu, both of which ceased production, in 2001 and 2000, respectively. That’s simply the point that makes them unique. I enjoy sherry-oak-influenced characters in Karuizawa; as for Hanyu, especially the Playing Cards Series, each bottle represents a single cask whiskey. The Hanyu Playing Cards series’ style is driven by the use of different types of casks—sherry, bourbon, orwine casks, or Japanese Mizunara oak.

    You’ve said that Chinese collectors are more likely to drink wine they’ve just won at auction than put it away, because they want to educate their palates.Is this also true of whiskey? Is there any bottle you’d advise a collector not to drink?
    Wine, whiskey, and cognac are meant to be consumed, and the best way to consume them, in my opinion, is by sharing. I have no advice for my clients on a single bottle not to drink; I would suggest drinking on a special occasion, instead.

    Cognac and scotch, although increasingly in demand, are still more affordable than wine. Do you see any other spirits poised for a renaissance? How does bourbon do?
    I absolutely agree; especially handcrafted single malts or bourbon are making their way up. Bonhams has demonstrated the demand for single malt whiskey since it launched its specialized department globally in 2008. Bourbon performs very well, with top names being Van Winkle, A.H. Hirsch, or Old Blowhard.

    250 Best Auction Houses 2015

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    Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac’s “Space Age” Art Encounter

    Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac’s “Space Age” group show couldn’t have come at a better time. NASA’s discovery of liquid water on Mars has placed the “final frontier” at the forefront of the public consciousness to an extent not seen for a long time.

    Throughout history, artists have continually and repeatedly looked to the sky and the frontier of “space” as a source of inspiration and motivation for a range of inquiries traversing the conceptual and the concrete and spanning all mediums from sculpture to painting to video.

    Taking mankind’s fascination with the skies as the point of departure, Ropac invited a diverse group of artists from different generations and practices to contribute works inspired by the notion of outer space and its multifarious connotations, from science to utopia.

    Through historic and commissioned works by 20 contemporary artists situated throughout the four vast halls of Ropac’s Paris Pantin gallery, “Space Age” is a fascinating and engaging exploration of the way these artists have responded to mankind’s constantly evolving relationship with “space.”

    According to Ropac, “Space Age” proposes a collective view of the multiple fascinations, desires, projections, and relentless scientific and artistic curiosity evoked by the idea of “space,” from the desire of conquering space to the contemplation and representation of the skies.

    Works created especially for the exhibition include a new installation by Korean artist Lee Bul, a diptych of outer space and a female astronaut reflecting into each other by Robert Longo, and a new display of phallic rockets by Sylvie Fleury from her “First Spaceship on Venus” series.

    Other highlights include Dan Flavin’s “‘Monument’ for V. Tatlin,” Ilya & Emilia Kabakov’s “Fallen Angel,” which references the Greek myth of Icarus; Tom Sachs’ “Challenger” space shuttle inspired “The Crawler”; and Cory Arcangel’s installation “MIG29 Soviet Fighter Plane and Clouds.”

    “Space Age” is at Ropac’s Paris Pantin gallery until December 23, 2015

    Click the slideshow to see some of the works in the exhibition

    Cory Arcangel | Richard Artschwager | Jules de Balincourt | Stephan Balkenhol  | Philippe Bradshaw | Lee Bul | Harun Farocki | Dan Flavin | Sylvie Fleury | Ilya & Emilia Kabakov | Alex Katz | Anselm Kiefer | Robert Longo | Patrick Neu | Jack Pierson | Robert Rauschenberg | James Rosenquist | Tom Sachs | Sturtevant | Not Vital

    Video by Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac

    Robert Rauschenberg, Roads (Shiner), 1992

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    Sneak Peek: What to See at Frieze London 2015

    Frieze London returns for its 13th edition in 2015 from October 14-17 in The Regent’s Park with an impressive lineup of 164 galleries from 27 countries showcasing works by some of the most significant and exciting contemporary artists working today. This year’s fair sees the full instatement of a new team comprising Victoria Siddall as Director, Abby Bangser as Artistic Director (Americas & Asia), and Jo Stella-Sawicka as Artistic Director (Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Russia).

    The main section of the fair will present a wide variety of solo and group presentations by some of the world’s top artists including Camille Henrot (Galerie Kamel Mennour, Paris), Chris Martin (Anton Kern Gallery, New York), Ken Okiishi (Pilar Corrias, London), Mary Weatherford (David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles), Xu Qu (Almine Rech Gallery, London), as well as Abraham Cruzvillegas and Jimmie Durham (kurimanzutto, Mexico City).

    In the Focus section for young galleries, advised this year by Raphael Gygax (Migros Museum, Zurich) and Jacob Proctor (Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, University of Chicago), visitors will encounter the work of the recently rediscovered Polish artist Maria Pininska-Beres (David Radziszweski, Warsaw), American artist Amie Siegel (Simon Preston, New York), and the emerging UK artists Samara Scott (The Sunday Painter, London) and Jesse Wine (Limoncello, London).

    The 2015 edition of the Frieze Sculpture Park comprises 16 new and historical works selected by Clare Lilley (Director of Program, Yorkshire Sculpture Park), including Richard Serra’s installation “Lock” (1976-7), being shown for the first time since 1976 by Peter Freeman (New York); and Anri Sala’s “Holey Wall (Should I Stay or Should I Go)” (2014-15), which has been remade for Frieze (Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris & Marian Goodman Gallery, London).

    Other highlights of the fair include the return of the Frieze Live for ambitious participatory works, following its debut in 2014; the Frieze Talks series of daily conversations, lectures, and panel discussions, co-curated for the first time by Christy Lange (Associate Editor, frieze) and Gregor Muir (Executive Director of the ICA, London); and Frieze London’s non-profit curated program, Frieze Projects, curated for the third time by Nicola Lees, who has responded to the architecture of the fair.

    Click the slideshow for a sneak peek into Frieze London 2015

    FRIEZE

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  • 09/30/15--03:01: Madrid
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    3 Watch Auctions to Watch in November

    It’s a good time for watch auctions this November, as Phillips and Christie’s are offering some historically important examples in Geneva on November 7-8, and November 9, respectively.

    Notably, the Rolex Submariner worn by Sir Roger Moore as James Bond in "Live and Let Die" (Ref. 5513) is being offered by Phillips, as part of its The Geneva Watch Auction: Two, for CHF 150,000 - CHF 250,000 (or $154,000 - $257,000 at current exchange). Memorable for its (fictional) buzz saw bezel that could cut through rope to escape dangerous situations, as well its bullet-deflecting magnetic field, the watch, nicknamed "Q", is also signed "Roger Moore 007" inside the case back. Another Rolex, the Bombay "La Caravelle" Cloisonné Ref. 6102, is also being offered. One of the most iconic cloisonné dial wristwatches made in the 1950s with Stern Frères of Geneva, this example is in virtually mint condition, and its dial depicts a scene featuring a multi-colored boat at sea, topped with faceted baton hour markers. It is estimated to bring between CHF 350,000 and CHF 700,000.

    Over at Christie’s, lookout for one of the most prized and important Patek Philippe references ever made: the Patek Philippe 2497 “The Emperor Selassie”. The wristwatch, with a perpetual calendar in yellow gold and a military-style black dial featuring Arabic numerals, was once owned by Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, whose full title was a pompous-sounding “By the Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I, King of Kings of Ethiopia, Elect of God”. The Emperor’s crest is engraved on the case back, and the watch is estimated to achieve between CHF 500,000 and CHF 1 million.

    But don’t forget the Only Watch auction on November 7, which will offer 44 one-of-a-kind timepieces created specially by the world’s finest watchmakers to benefit research on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).

    Among the stunning creations are MB&F’s Melchior, a unique robot-shaped table clock featuring jumping hours, sweeping minutes, double retrograde seconds and a 40-day power reserve; Vulcain’s 50s Presidents’ Enamel Pegasus; and Bell & Ross’s BR01 Tourbillon Skull Bronze.

    The haute joaillerie offerings include Boucheron’s Epure Vague de Lumière, which features three-dimensional marquetry of round and baguette diamonds in the shape of an ocean wave, as well as Chanel’s Mademoiselle Privé, which collaborated with embroidery experts Lesage on an exquisite dial comprising a fabric backdrop topped with natural pearls and stitching to create iconic camelias on the watch face.

    To view these timepieces, click on the slideshow.

    Chanel’s Mademoiselle Privé Only Watch

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    Delacroix, Caravaggio Head UK National Gallery 2016 Program

    The National Gallery London has announced its 2016 program of exhibitions beginning in February with the first presentation of Delacroix’s art in Britain for more than 50 years. Titled “Delacroix and the Rise of Modern Art,” the landmark exhibition will explore Delacroix’s influence on his contemporaries, populating the Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing with more than 60 works borrowed from 30 major public and private collections around the world.

    In June the Gallery’s Sainsbury Wing will host “Painters’ Paintings: From Van Dyck to Freud,” an exhibition of major pictures that were once owned by fellow painters: Van Dyck’s Titian; Reynolds’s Rembrandt; Matisse’s Degas; Lucian Freud’s Corot. “Painters’ Paintings” will be followed in October by the first major exhibition in the UK to explore the influence of Caravaggio on the art of his contemporaries and followers.

    From November 4, 2015 – February 14 2016, the Gallery’s Sunley Room will host an exhibition that explores and clarifies the centuries of debate on a variety of aspects of Francesco Botticini’s monumental altarpiece (measuring 228.6 x 377.2cm), “The Assumption of the Virgin.” George Shaw, who became the National Gallery’s ninth Rootstein Hopkins Associate Artist in 2014, will then showcase a new body of work created over two years in the Room from May 11 – October 30 2016.

    Coinciding with the flower shows at Chelsea and Hampton Court, an exhibition titled “Dutch Flowers” will open in the Gallery’s Room 1 on April 6 and continue until August 29. Described by the Gallery as the first display of its kind in 20 years, the exhibition will explore the development of Dutch flower painting from its beginnings in the early 17th century to its blossoming in the late 18th century, presenting an overview of the key artists active within the field

    Eugène Delacroix, Self Portrait, 1837 © Musée du Louvre

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  • 09/30/15--21:25: Dubai
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    The Art of Wifredo Lam Reframed at Centre Pompidou Paris

    “Wilfredo Lam” at the Centre Pompidou in Paris is the first major retrospective of the internationally renowned Cuban painter’s work since 1983, a year after his death. Spanning the 1930s to the 1970s, the exhibition aims to reposition Lam’s work within an international history of modern art through more than 400 works including paintings, drawings, photographs, reviews, and rare books. Beginning with his early years in Cuba and the time he spent in Spain from 1924-1938, Lam’s singular career unfolds over five themed sections corresponding to the different phases in the artist’s career.

    Even though there has been a resurgence in interest in his work since his death in 1982 and following the decline of his reputation that began in the 1960s, Lam remains a relatively misunderstood and underappreciated figure compared to other modernist masters such as Pablo Picasso, André Breton, Georges Braque, and Fernand Léger. The Centre Pompidou exhibition is comprised mainly of major museum loans including his masterpiece “The Jungle” (1943) which has been has been lent by the Museum of Modern Art New York for the first time to another institution.

    Born in 1902 in Sagua la Grande, Cuba to a Cantonese Chinese father and a mother of African slave and Spanish ancestry, Lam’s multicultural heritage had a major influence on his work. Drawing inspiration from his own unique cultural identity as well as the artists, poets, intellectuals, and members of the Parisian avant-garde that he encountered throughout his career, Lam developed a unique style that fused Western modernism with Afro-Cuban imagery, positioning himself as a champion of creative freedom and human dignity.

    In an interview with Max-Pol Fouchet published in 1976, Lam states: “I wanted with all my heart to paint the drama of my country, but by thoroughly expressing the black spirit, the beauty of the plastic art of the blacks. In this way I could act as a Trojan horse that would spew forth hallucinating figures with the power to surprise, to disturb the dreams of the exploiters. I knew I was running the risk of not being understood by either the man in the street or by the others. But a true picture has the power to set the imagination to work even if it takes time.”

    Exhibition curator Catherine David says in the catalogue essay that Lam’s work is still subject to a number of misunderstandings and well-intentioned but reductive modes of appreciation despite the flurry of publications and exhibitions that followed the artist’s death in 1982. “Certain ‘culturalist’ approaches have over-simplified or distorted perceptions of a complex body of work that both emerged from and addressed a plurality of differing geographic and cultural spaces, situating itself in the tension between the supposed centres and peripheries of the modern,” says David.

    According to Mathias Rastorfer, CEO + Co-Owner Gmurzynska Galleries which represents the estate of Wilfredo Lam, it is highly satisfying to see one of the most outstanding surrealists of the 20th century, whose work was already collected by the MoMA in the 1940s and a close friend of Picasso, to be looked at in his proper context again. “Due to intense research, exhibitions and publications over the last 4 years, Wifredo Lam is seen again as the international artist with a long lasting influence, including on Jean-Michel Basquiat,” says Rastorfer.

    Wifredo Lam, Albissola («Brousses» series, 1958 -1963) © Archives SDO Wifredo La

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    Sneak Peek: What to See at Frieze Masters 2015

    Frieze Masters, the fair for ancient to modern art, returns to London for its fourth edition in 2015 alongside the contemporary Frieze London from October 14-18 in the Regent’s Park with a lineup of 131 leading modern and historical galleries showcasing a wide variety of works spanning antiquities, Asian art, ethnographic art, illuminated manuscripts, Medieval, modern and post-war, Old Masters and 19th-century, photography, sculpture, and Wunderkammer

    This year’s fair introduces a new Collections section. Curated by Sir Norman Rosenthal, each of the eight presentations by individual dealers “contain within them germs of ideas for exhibitions,” according to Sir Rosenthal. Highlights include a collection of rare wooden Egyptian sculpture, including a large and exceptional example from the Fifth Dynasty (2500–2400 BC) (Sycomore Ancient Art, London); as well as a display of 40 pieces of fine Italian maiolica (Bazaart, London).

    Dedicated to solo presentations of 20th-century art, the Spotlight section is curated for the first time in 2015 by Clara M Kim, formerly Senior Curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and Director/Curator of the Gallery at REDCAT in Los Angeles. Artists being showcased include Wanda Pimentel (Anita Schwartz Galeria de Arte, Rio de Janeiro), Keiichi Tanaami (Nanzuka, Tokyo), Jess (Anglim Gilbert Gallery, San Francisco), and Ana Lupas (P420, Bologna).

    Click the slideshow for a sneak peek into Frieze Masters 2015

      Photographs by Stephen Wells, Courtesy Stephen Wells/Frieze.

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  • 10/01/15--03:49: Berlin
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  • 10/01/15--03:49: Zurich
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    Art on the Catwalk: Rochas Borrows From Dalí and His Muse, Gala

    Best known as the wife, muse, and business manager of Surrealist artist Salvador Dalí, Gala Dalí was a fascinating character in her own right.

    Committed to a sanitarium, where she met her first husband Paul Éluard, in 1912, Gala served as Dalí's muse through the most productive years of his artistic career. She frequently posed for her husband’s paintings and sculptures, including The Old Age of William Tell, Memory of the Child-Woman, The Angelus of Gala, William Tell and Gradiva, and more. He often signed both his name and hers at the bottom of his paintings, and the duo sometimes participated in exhibitions together during the 1930s. The pair also had a notably open marriage, as Gala had frequent extramarital affairs with partners, including her former husband Éluard.

    It was Gala Dalí that Alessandro Dell’Acqua tapped for Rochas’ Spring-Summer 2016 collection in Paris this week. The pair’s whimsy and wit seemed a good fit for the designer, who has fashioned the label into one known for its kooky colors, hyper-feminine accents, and outsized embellishments.

    A case in point was an ochre silk faille ensemble with a giant bow at the chest, whose color, composition, and protusion from the body evoked the painter's The Anthropomorphic Cabinet(1936); another was a short series of looks depicting embroidered giraffes under a giant sun, which were surely a riff on The Burning Giraffe(1937).

    Elsewhere, Dell’Acqua layered colorful surf-motif T-shirts under sheer chiffon gowns, as well as a plain white tee under an oversized black-and-white-striped pinafore, for his own takes on the high-low couture trend.

    The show closed with two aptly elaborate ensembles — one, a 30s midi-length dress, and the other, an opera coat — both gilded in gold embroidery and sequins that appropriated the motifs seen at the heads of the couple’s beads in the Salvador Dalí House in Portlligat, Spain.

    To see looks from the collection, click on the slideshow.

    Rochas Spring-Summer 2016

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    Revisiting M.F. Husain's Colorful, Controversial Works at Aicon Gallery

    A mini-retrospective of M.F. Husain — the celebrated and colorfully controversial Indian painter who died in London in 2011, at the age of 95 — runs through October 24 at Aicon Gallery in NoHo. Covering six decades in approximately 24 paintings, the show affords a rarely seen overview of India’s Picasso, with excellent examples from every decade of his wildly prolific oeuvre.

    Husain may be more familiar to art market followers than critics; six of his figurative paintings from 1955 to 1989 have sold for more than a million dollars at auction, and at least 60 have traded at auction in excess of $300,000. (Of the dozen or so works that are available at Aicon, prices range from $100,000 to $300,000, according to gallery principal Prajit Dutta.) Though he exhibited extensively in India and abroad throughout his long career, Husain has never had a solo presentation in New York, at least according to his exhibition roster published on the gallery’s website.

    Husain’s career began in the late 1940s, shortly after India declared independence, when he joined the avant-garde Progressive Artists’ Group in Mumbai. Much like the early career of Pop Artist James Rosenquist, who made a living as a billboard painter in New York City’s Time Square, Husain painted billboards for feature films in Mumbai, an early experience that fueled his life-long passion for Bollywood and his more checkered, part-time career as a film producer. Husain — who ultimately favored painting in posh hotel rooms, especially at the Taj Mahal, over anything like an artist’s studio — mastered a brilliant visual vocabulary that evocatively mixed Hindu mythology with the decadence of India’s raging film scene, replete with buxom and barely clad actresses.

    For example, in “Durga,” 1976, perhaps the most important painting in the exhibition, the titular multi-colored Hindu goddess — known as the root of creation, preservation, and destruction — sits nude astride a magnificent tiger that bares its claws and teeth. There’s a bigger story behind the powerful image: At the time, then prime minister Indira Gandhi had decreed a “state of emergency,” curbing press and public freedoms for 21 months from 1975 to 1977, creating widespread civil unrest. Husain seemed to celebrate that action in “Durga” by making Gandhi a goddess — and in turn, made himself a toxically controversial figure in India. Gandhi was later assassinated by a Sikh extremist in New Delhi in 1984.

    Such irreverent uses of sacred imagery ultimately led to Husain’s late exile from India, following a rash of lawsuits and physical threats from Hindu extremists. (Though a Muslim and die-hard secularist, Husain preferred the more colorful stories and folk-tale like depictions found in the Hindu religion.) He then became a citizen of Qatar.

    The raging, erotic elements of “Durga” are nowhere to be seen in “Untitled (Mother Teresa),” 2004, depicting the famed missionary, in her trademark white robe with pale blue striping, embracing two bawling infants with Madonna-like composure. In another composition, “Mother Teresa with Krishna and Nandi,” 1996, Husain transforms the missionary into a kind of Spartan goddess, floating with other gods. Mother Teresa died in Calcutta in 1997.

    Hedonism of a sort returns in “Women in Yellow,” 1970, presenting a trio of long-haired, bare-breasted, loin-clothed villagers taking on different poses in a style that brings to mind Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” (The Picasso connection is not so far-fetched: Husain was invited to exhibit alongside the Spanish master in the 1971 São Paulo Biennale.) Another of the artist’s favorite and serially replayed themes is also present in the Aicon exhibition, with “Horses,” 2001, depicting the unbridled power of a quartet of galloping creatures.  

    When this writer met Husain in 2005 for a coffee at the Taj Mahal in Mumbai, shortly before his exile, the artist entered the room resplendent in a silk suit, open-necked shirt and brandishing what looked like a silver-tipped cane. The cane, it turned out, was an elongated bespoke paintbrush. I also noticed he was barefoot and moved gracefully, unlike any octogenarian I’ve ever met. At the time, just shy of 90 years old, he was in a mood, criticizing the local art scene and the rapidly expanding group of art galleries; he dismissed the lot “as shopkeepers because all they do is get the painting, sell it, get the commission and they’re finished.”

    Still, he continued working late in life, including a private commission from an Indian businessman, 100 works titled “Our Planet Called Earth” for a reported $22 million. With well over 10,000 canvases estimated in his career, Husain sure learned a thing or two about the swashbuckling business of being an artist. 

    M. F. Husain

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