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    3 Questions for Architect James Wines

    James Wines, the architect, artist, and founder of SITE Environmental Design, is something of a living legend. When the idea of form for form’s sake became popular in the architectural profession in the late 1980s — a trend that’s just now wearing off — Wines and his storied 45-year practice took the long view. A champion of sustainability, environmental conscientiousness, and architecture that responds first and foremost to its context and its program, Wines and his impressive output in architecture, product design, and sculpture are being revisited with urgency by a younger generation of architects who share — and hope to build upon — the architectural concerns he began exploring in the 1970s.

    And so it’s fitting that Wines is part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, an exhibition up through January 3, 2016 that focuses primarily on much younger and less-established architects — many of whom would consider him not only a forefather or predecessor, but also an icon. Wines is best known for his comical (perverse, even) 1970s shopping center designs for Best Products, a now-defunct catalog showroom company. Yet his show at Rhona Hoffman Gallery in Chicago, which was timed to open alongside the Biennial as a complementary project to the main exhibition, brings to light a slightly lesser-known element of Wines’s work: his drawings. And while the exhibition of flat files closed on October 24, the projects and themes they depict synthesize some of the wide-ranging narrative arc of SITE’s output. ARTINFO sat down with Wines at his studio in New York to get the lowdown on his drawings, his interdisciplinary work in art, and his altogether unusual take on the world at large.

    The drawings at Rhona Hoffman Gallery span the breadth of your career in architecture, from the 1970s to the present. What are some of the concerns you’ve focused on in that timespan?

    My whole career has been a critique of architecture. It really is problematic; you can’t really do anything effectively without the so-called “capitalist system.” Was it Schwarzenegger who said, “Did you ever get a job from a poor person?” That’s true! In architecture, it’s completely predicated on — and has always been predicated on — the rich. Somebody has to feed down the money to get this thing done. And then what is done is often so obscene in terms of energy and humanity… it’s very problematic. It’s profoundly problematic in terms of the moral values that are expressed in architecture. But, you know, the capitalist paradigm is also highly questionable!

    What alternatives have you developed for working within this seemingly inescapable paradigm?

    A good sense of irony, from day one. I was a Constructivist sculptor — actually pretty successful — before this. But I thought, hasn’t this been done before? I was always interested in architecture anyway. Then I started looking around in architecture, and I realized that the situation is pretty sad in many ways: die-hard formalism, and it’s pretty narrowly framed in terms of what most practitioners do. They’re not brains, exactly.

    How would you characterize the role of drawings in your practice — as art objects? As technical documents? As both? As a bridge that allows your practice to exist between the two worlds?

    It is a bridge, there’s no question about it. Clearly, the fact that our drawings have been selling so well over the past year to major collections… somebody finally figured out that they’re probably more art than they are design. Design drawings, especially computer drawings — I mean, who wants them? They’re mechanical tools. I wonder, who’s left that knows how to draw? But I think a lot of people are interested in the fact that ideas do emerge from hand-drawing. I do a lecture on drawing, and I have this thing at the beginning about the human brain… there are like 500 million, billion connections in the human brain that make any computer on earth look like child’s play.

    This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

    James Wines

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    $200M Van Gogh Will Stay at Yale, Obamas Opt for Abstract Art, and More

    — $200M Van Gogh Will Stay at Yale: A $200 million stolen painting by Vincent van Gogh will remain at Yale University, after a federal appeals court backed the university in a dispute over its ownership. During the Russian Revolution, “The Night Café” by the Dutch master was taken by the Soviets from Pierre Konowaloff’s family and sold to the school in 1961. The federal judge cited the doctrine that US courts do not honor foreign governments’ expropriation demands. [GuardianWP

    — Obamas Opt for Abstract Art: The Obamas are swapping out some of the fusty portraiture and landscapes in the White House for more modern and contemporary works, such as pieces by Mark Rothko and Robert Rauschenberg. “There was discussion about the president and first lady liking more abstract art,” said William Allman, the curator of the White House art collection. “Our collection doesn’t really have any of that,” he said of the 500-piece collection. Melissa Chiu, the director of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, which has let the Obamas borrow several paintings, said: “The recognition of African-American artists is a big piece of that. At many levels, you are seeing a diversification of the selection of artwork and artists that reveals the story of the United States.” [NYT]

    — Beirut’s Aishti Foundation Opens: A fixture of Beirut’s proposed cultural renaissanceTony Salamé’s $100-plus million Aishti Foundation opened on Sunday. The David Adjaye-designed “museum-cum-shopping mall” combines 90 retail spaces, for brands like Gucci and Prada, with 4,000 square meters of art exhibition space. “We’re thinking of having yoga classes in between the sculptures,” Salamé added. “This is a place where art is not intimidating.” The opening show, titled “New Skin” and drawn from Salamé’s personal collection, was curated by the New Museum’s Massimiliano Gioni, who noted that the shopping sector is, in his opinion, “not challenging or problematic. Tony makes the money behind the [gallery] wall and he spends it in here. Fashion can really open up the audience to art.” [TAN]

    — Islamic State Detonates Palmyra Columns in Execution: On Sunday, the Islamic State executed three people by tying them to historic columns in Palmyra and blowing them up, according to Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Activist Mohammad al-Ayed added: “IS is doing this for the media attention, so that IS can say that it is the most villainous, and so it can get people’s attention.” [ArtDaily]

    — Eduardo Chillida’s US Renaissance: Spanish modernist sculptor Eduardo Chillida is getting renewed attention in the US, including a pop-up show opening this Friday on Madison Avenue. [WSJ]

    — Hammer Museum Plans Expansion: After acquiring a full city block of property from Occidental Petroleum in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles for $92.5 million, the Hammer Museum plans to use the additional 40,000 square feet to expand its galleries, including permanent display space for works on paper and the Hammer Contemporary Collection. [LAT]

    — Melik Ohanian wins 2015 Marcel Duchamp PrizeBasel Abbas and Ruanne Abou-Rame win Abraaj Group Art Prize. [ArtforumTANArtnews]

    — Oops, cleaners have thrown away more art — this time, a piece made up of party debris by Sara Goldschmied and Eleonora Chiari at the Museion in Bolzano, Italy. [Telegraph, Independent]
    — And in light, pleasant news, French artist Christian Boltanski is counting down the seconds to his own death. [Guardian]

    $200M van Gogh Will Stay at Yale, Obamas Opt for Abstract Art

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    How Dutch Design Week Tackled Refugees, Fashion Industry

    This year, Dutch Design Week took on the world’s problems, from the refugee crisis to ethical industries.

    The 2015 edition had a record number of visitors, estimated at over 270,000 over nine days. About 2,500 designers presented exhibitions, events, and talks in more than locations across Eindhoven.

    Oriented towards creativity and innovation, Dutch Design Week has become one of the most exciting events in the international design calendar, with graduates from the Design Academy Eindhoven presenting ideas side by side with established industry leaders. This year as well, two DDW ambassadors (design studio Makkink & Bey, and designer, philosopher and scientist Koert van Mensvoort) provided guidance, curation, and stimulation for the public and the design community alike.

    The event culminated with Dutch Design Awards. The Submarine Channel agency took the Communication and Future awards for its interactive online documentary Refugee Republic, about daily life in the Syrian refugee camp Domiz, in northern Iraq.

    Teresa van Dongen, who graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven in 2014 and was showing at DDW this year as well, was awarded the Young Designer Award for her small, but substantial body of work at the intersection of natural science and design.

    A prize was awarded to the most surprising or impressive presentation. Concept store You Are Here, curated by designers Niek Pulles and Harm Rensink, was recognized for entrepreneurship and generosity towards the fashion talent taking part.

    “The designers’ role during DDW is changing," said Rianne Makking, one of the DDW ambassadors. “The designer becomes a curator, puts issues on the agenda and also generates new work.”

    “What struck me was the unbelievable openness and the inclusive character of DDW," said Koert van Mensvoort, another DDW ambassador. “It is no longer about the world of design, but about the design of the world.”

    As has become expected, DDW is a place to find out about the designs and the designers that will make a mark on the future. Blouin ARTINFO has assembled a top list of the most interesting new names discovered at Dutch Design Week 2015: Click on the slideshow to find out more.

    Dutch Design Week 2015 ran through October 25 at various locations in Eindhoven.




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    Philippe Parreno’s Exhibition “Hypothesis” at HangarBicocca in Milan

    “Hypothesis” at the Pirelli-supported HangarBicocca contemporary art space in Milan is the first survey exhibition in Italy of French artist Philippe Parreno. Curated by Andrea Lissoni, the exhibition is conceived as a choreographed space modulated by a series of events.

    Employing the exhibition itself as his medium, Parreno explores the boundary between reality and its representation, using elements of film, video, sound, writing, and drawing. He also addresses the concept of authorship through collaborations with influential artists, musicians, and architects.

    The exhibition at HangarBicocca showcases several of Parreno’s most significant works in film, video, installation, and sound as well as a major installation by Jasper Johns and musical compositions by a host of influential composers.

    “All of the elements in the exhibition—the videos, music recordings, and marquees—can be controlled from a master keyboard that looks like a piano but conceptually is more like a gamelan, with diverse instruments that can be played together,” Parreno explains.

    Key works include Parreno’s iconic “Marquees,” the artificial light installation “Another Day with Another Sun,” realized in collaboration with the artist Liam Gillick, and a series of props made by American artist Jasper John for Merce Cunningham’s 1968 performance “Walkaround Time.”

    The exhibition also includes Parreno’s manga-based collaboration with Pierre Huyghe, titled “Anywhere Out of the World” (2000), in addition to a number of the artist’s films such as “Alien Seasons” (2002), Invisibleboy (2010-2015), Marilyn (2012), and The Crowd (2015)

    According to Lissoni,“’Hypothesis’ can be considered an experimental model for a solo show, in which different existing works are recombined for just the duration of the exhibition, becoming a temporary installation, and then getting back their individual lives and status after the show itself has ended.

    “‘Hypothesis’ is a hypothesis for a time-based exhibition in which beginning and end are no longer located in the space but dispersed in time, enabling a never ending iridescent experience of the artworks as well as of the venue.”

    Philippe Parreno“Hypothesis” is at HangarBicocca until February 14, 2016

    Opening Philippe Parreno | "Hypothesis" | 21.10.2015

    Scoprite la mostra "Hypothesis" Ecco il video dell'opening della mostra di Philippe Parreno, a cura di Andrea Lissoni. Condividetelo e venite a trovarci in #HangarBicocca! #ParrenoHypothesis

    Posted by HangarBicocca on Friday, October 23, 2015

    Philippe Parreno’s “Hypothesis”

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    V&A's “Fashion in Motion” Series Fêtes Ashish's 10 Years of Sequined Humor and Craftsmanship

    Since its start in 1999, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s “Fashion in Motion” catwalk series has showcased storied design houses including Christian Lacroix, Hardy Amies, Gianfranco Ferré and Missoni. Yet, its most recent incarnation, on October 23, spotlighted Indian-born designer Ashish Gupta, whose label Ashish is known for blending sportswear with sequins, as well as the occasional political or pop culture statement.

    According to Series Curator Cassie Davies-Strodder, it was a decision that was vindicated by the record-breaking 13 minutes it took to sell the 1,200 tickets for the show.

    She explains: ”From a curatorial point of view, Ashish’s work is undeniably urban and subversive, yet he crosses the line into couture with his craftwork and techniques. His work is also striking enough that it can hold its own in the Raphael Gallery, where the shows are held. [Given] his 10th anniversary this year, we just had to approach him about holding a retrospective of his career.”

    Sequins have all but become Gupta’s signature, and he uses them to artful effects. The Mona Lisa was a large motif on a short shift dress in his Spring-Summer 2010 collection (pictured above), while an ensemble of sunflowers from Spring-Summer 2012, while being the designer’s take on “all things love and romance,” certainly evoked Vincent van Gogh’s iconic painting.

    A pioneer of slogan clothing, Gupta has appropriated phrases such as “Love Will Win”, “Shut Up”, and “Same Old Chic” — as well as images of the Coca-Cola slogan and the poop Emoji— in sequins of various colors, to express his thoughts wide-ranging issues from geopolitics to LGBT rights to pop culture.

    Gupta, a Central Saint Martin’s graduate, was first “discovered” by Browns Focus, when the luxury store’s former head buyer Yeda Yun spotted her friend wearing a houndstooth jumper with neon slashes of his design, and immediately knew she had to stock the designer.

    Even today, Browns Focus' womenswear buyer Rebecca Osei-Baidoo observes: “With Ashish, we rarely see a fan base so devout: We sell out of his clothes continually. That to us spoke volumes of his appeal.”

    Alluding to how Gupta’s shows are known for their hysterical screaming by groupies and fashion students, Davies-Strodder says: “We have attended Ashish’s fashion shows for years and we love the hoopla and humour around him. Also, the clothes and atmosphere he creates are a wonderful contrast to what is obviously somewhat of a serious museum setting.”

    Meanwhile, the designer himself was allowed to curate his own show, and amongst his picks were an ombré flapper dress, a green sequined gown and his iconically embellished and emblazoned “Vogue” distressed boyfriend jeans.

    He told Blouin Artinfo: “I picked pieces that I personally loved over the past 10 years, not just ones that had commercial or pop appeal. It also gave me a chance to archive my collections: I had rooms full of boxes and all the pieces were pulled out and organized — and that was a very useful and hugely emotional experience.”

    To view looks from the V&A's "Fashion in Motion: Ashish" show in London on October 23, click on the slideshow.

    Looks from the V&A's "Fashion in Motion: Ashish" show in London on October 23

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    Elephant Automaton Lost from Imperial Fabergé Egg Found in Britain's Royal Collection Trust

    A small, automated elephant that was once concealed as a ‘surprise’ in the eighth Imperial Fabergé Egg, but thought to be lost, has been found — nestling all along in the collection of Great Britain’s Royal Family.

    The Royal Collection Trust’s senior curator Caroline de Guitaut announced on October 10, during a conference at the Fabergé Museum in St. Petersburg, that she came upon the discovery whilst compiling a new catalogue of the Trust collection.

    She was examining the figurine when she realized it fitted the description from Fabergé's general account ledger, which had listed the elusive object as an "ivory figure of an elephant, clockwork, with a small gold tower, partly enameled and decorated with rose-cut diamonds," and "a black mahout… seated on its head."

    De Guitaut said in her presentation: "It suddenly struck me [that] it might be the very elephant. We removed the upper part of the tower, and my heart almost stopped beating: There was a Fabergé stamp on it.”

    The Diamond Trellis Egg, made of gold, jadeite and rose-cut diamonds, was commissioned by Tsar Alexander III in 1892 to be presented to his wife Tsarina Maria Fedorovna for Easter that year. After the Russian Revolution, it was sold by the Soviet government, through the London dealer Wartski, after which it found several homes across the United Kingdom before landing in its current one, the McFerrin Collection in Houston in the United States.

    At some point during its travels, the Egg was separated from its sculptural base of three cherubs, which remains missing, as well as the elephant, which somehow found its way to the British royal family — having been acquired by King George V in 1935.

    The automaton, now restored, works perfectly. "Words cannot describe our emotions, when the winding key fit ideally to the mechanism, and the elephant started walking, moved its legs, nodded, for the first time in 80 years,” exclaimed de Guitaut.

    The Diamond Trellis Egg and its elephant automaton "surprise"

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    Offshore Onshore? Fritz Dietl On His New Delaware Freeport

    As the global boom in freeports — tax advantaged storage facilities for art and other collectibles — continues apace, the latest such luxe warehouse has cropped up on less distant shores: Delaware. Launched by the art-shipper Fritz Dietl of Dietl International, the Delaware Freeport is not the first art-focused facility to take advantage of the Mid-Atlantic state’s favorable tax regime. But should it receive a free trade zone designation, which Dietl tells ARTINFO is imminent, it will soon be the first art storage facility in the United States that can compete directly with the tax benefits offered by freeports domiciled in traditional havens like Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Singapore. (A representative from the Delaware Department of State did not respond to a request for comment on the Delaware Freeport’s free trade status as of press time.)

    We spoke to Dietl about his plans for the Delaware Freeport, the kinds of clients he expects will make use of the facility, and how the New York State taxman is “the biggest promoter” of his business.

    How did you come to decide on starting the Delaware Freeport? You have an arts-focused logistics business, but I understand this is a new kind of venture for you.

    My main business is Dietl International. We are one of the largest international fine art logistics company around the world, and certainly in the United States. When it comes to the commercial art market — major galleries, auctions houses, collectors — we are likely the largest company in that arena. From that experience, and I’ve been doing this for a long time — I founded Dietl International in 1991 — from that experience I see the needs of my clients. I see the flow of the art around the world, and over the years I’ve seen how much inventory moves to various freeports around the world, and how much of it moves back to New York from various freeports around the world.

    I’ve been thinking about the idea for many years, and I was able to spend a little bit more time in the past few years and I finally decided to pull the trigger on it and provide this service to my clients, because I feel there is a need for it.

    What is the value proposition that the Delaware Freeport offers? Why would anyone in the US come to you rather than go offshore?

    The value proposition is very simple and makes a lot of sense for a lot of people. Right now, the New York State Sales and Use Tax is the biggest promoter of my business that I can have. Because they are putting these new regulations into effect that make it even more complicated for clients to organize shipments from New York, and so right there Delaware is a good option.

    To go back to your original point, where I see a benefit from it, because there are a lot of international and US-based art collectors, art investors, that don’t immediately put the work into their own home, if they are collectors, if they are investors, the art is not meant for the home anyway, [it’s meant] as an asset. One may or may not like it but art has become an asset class, and thus it needs to be cared for and stored properly somewhere.

    The Swiss freeports were known for the quality of the facilities, number one, but also for the fact that you could ship something there, and hold it in a tax free environment indefinitely, and then whenever you are ready to trade the asset again, you could move it from that freeport to wherever it goes, or even trade it inside the freeport without having a tax on it, besides the usual taxes that any investor or company has — maybe capital gains or whatever it may be.

    Do you have a sense of how much volume you’re expecting in the first year and terminally?

    Those are good questions, — we have a 36,000-square-foot facility, and I expect it to fill up by the end of next year at the latest. We have inventory moving in now every week, we are receiving a large shipment right now that very likely would have been going to Europe. The client actually had second thoughts — “it doesn’t have to go to Europe, it can go to Delaware.” We are keeping it local, we are employing people in Delaware, in the US, truckers that move things back and forth to and from Delaware. I kept the footprint relatively small because I believe in not having incredible values, for insurance and safety reasons, in one location. Once we fill this location we will look to other locations in Delaware not far from the location we are in now.

    Do you know what the anticipated breakdown is between institutional versus individual clients?  

    That’s really hard to predict and hard to say. My feeling is that we will have a lot of institutional clients, because there are a lot of collectors who don’t mind paying the sales and use tax because they want to be able to switch things out in their apartment. But there are more and more investors that obviously have no reason to pay sales and use tax, if you are a fund, or a trader, why should you pay a tax in New York. We also have a lot of international clients, international gallery clients, who are already making use of our facility, because let’s not forget there are more and more art fairs, and a number of important and big art fairs in the US, so it makes sense for international galleries to have a footprint in a sale and use-tax free state when it comes to distributing the work that they sell.

    Have you partnered with any financial services firms or do you have plans to work with financial services firms should any of your clients wish to use artworks in storage with you as collateral for loans?

    I have not and I don’t see this as a focus of our business. Everybody always wants to look at synergy and look at where they can get another buck out of something, and I’m a little bit old fashioned. I believe in a good personal and discreet service, so I have no plans, and never will, to use any of the information that we have to give feedback to clients.

    In terms of regulatory risk, the pitch of classic tax-advantaged states like Luxembourg is that there is a lot of long-term stability. But tax maneuvers with art have drawn scrutiny in the US in recent years, so do you see that as a potential deterrent to your clients?

    I have a simple answer to that. There is a reason why every single Fortune 500 company is incorporated in Delaware. If anything changes in the United States, Delaware is likely to be the last state where anything will change [laughs]. If something changes, it can only happen at the federal level, and if you look at US politics, it is extremely unlikely that any big changes are underway. And the Delaware Freeport is not a tax avoidance scheme, it’s just a perfectly correct and legal means for tax planning, and so there are no regulatory issues. Every major client knows that laws in New York are very clear, if you bring a work back to New York to show it in your living room, you are liable for use tax, end of story. We are not selling anything that helps people to not pay their taxes. And last but not least, we are going to be a bona fide actual free trade zone, a certain area, certain part of our warehouse that is separated from the rest of the warehouse. But if you place your artwork inside the free trade zone, you are outside the United States for all intents and purposes.

    And is that zone in place or planned?
    It’s almost in place — we have applied for it and are expecting to get approved very soon. It’s really not necessary for original works of art, but there are other reasons and other commodities for which this works very well. The state development organization is helping us with that process.

    This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

    Delaware Freeport Fritz Dietl