Saturday, February 28, 2009


Self Portrait 1988
oil on canvas
78.7 x 94.4 in.
The Saatchi Gallery

MARCH 1- MAY 11, 2009

One of the most significant and influential artists of our time, Martin Kippenberger (1953–1997) produced a complex and richly varied body of work from the mid-1970s until his untimely death in 1997 at the age of forty-four. This ambitious, large-scale exhibition includes key selections and bodies of work from his entire career: paintings, sculpture, works on paper, installations, multiples, photographs, posters, announcement cards, books, and music. He turned his work into a late-modernist clearinghouse in which familiar styles, careers and ideas could be re-evaluated, pulled apart, rejected or recombined. Most important, though, is to see how a complex, theatrical, and new-feeling art can be made from ideas and materials already there. The grand demonstration of this phenomenon is the installation called “The Happy End of Franz Kafka’s ‘Amerika,’ ” which fills the MoMA atrium.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


Astonishingly, Christie’s Paris sale of the Collections Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, Feb. 23-25, 2009 resulted in the auction total of $483.8 million. Over 95 percent of the sale’s 733 lots sold, and additional new auction records were set across the numerous sale categories. The auction total of €373.9 million ($483.8 million) was a record high for any auction in Europe, and a world record for the most valuable private collection sold at auction.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Baldessari and Ono to be Awarded Golden Lions at Venice Biennale

Artists John Baldessari and Yoko Ono will be awarded Golden Lions for Lifetime Achievement at this year’s Venice Biennale, reports the Los Angeles Times’s Suzanne Muchnic. Cited as “two of the most important artists of our time,” they will be honored on June 6 at the opening of the fifty-third edition of the international contemporary art exhibition in Italy. In a statement announcing the news, Daniel Birnbaum, director of the Biennale, said that the artists’ “groundbreaking activities have opened new poetic, conceptual, and social possibilities for artists around the globe working in all media” and that they “have shaped our understanding of art and its relationship to the world in which we live. Their work has revolutionized the language of art and will remain a source of inspiration for generations to come.”


CHRISTIAN HOLSTAD, 'Leather Beach', Prince's Deli, March 11, 2006

Are you ready for X, the new Chelsea nonprofit opening Mar. 7, 2009, in the old headquarters of the Dia Center for the Arts at 548 West 22nd Street? The year-long project -- "neither a museum, gallery, nor foundation, but a site that encompasses a global network of ideas" -- is the brainchild of Chelsea art dealer Elizabeth Dee, and is to be overseen by curatorial director Cecilia Alemani and project curator Jenny Moore. In the spirit of Dia, X features four suites of three-month-long installations. First up is an installation of films by Derek Jarman, a 35-sculpture "mise en scène" installation on the ground floor by New York artist Mika Tajima, and a recreation of Christian Holstad’s homage to the gay leather scene, Leather Beach, on the roof. Also on tap is an as-yet-unannounced commission for the façade. Admission to X is free.

Annie Leibovitz Pawns Rights To Her Photographs

Last fall, Annie Leibovitz, the photographer, borrowed $5 million from a company called Art Capital Group. In December, she borrowed $10.5 million more from the same firm. As collateral, among other items, she used town houses she owns in Greenwich Village, a country house, and something else: the rights to all of her photographs. According to loan documents filed with the city, one of the world’s most successful photographers essentially pawned every snap of the shutter she had made or will make until the loans are paid off. Those who know Ms. Leibovitz said she used the money to pay off mortgages and deal with other financial stresses. But whatever her reasons, she is not alone in doing business with art lenders to bring in much-needed cash. This little-known corner of the art business is lightly regulated and highly litigious.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


San Francisco Art Institute
Exhibition on view: 20 February–23 May 2009

The Walter and McBean Galleries
800 Chestnut Street campus
Tuesdays–Saturdays, 11:00am–6:00pm

Yan, Obama, 2008, oil on canvas, 98.5 x 79 in. Courtesy of the artist and David Zwirner in New York. © Yan Pei-Ming, ADAGP, Paris, 2008. Photo credit: André Morin.

Having grown up in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution of the 60s and 70s, felt the first flickers of the post–Mao Zedong reforms, and then moved to France in 1980. Yan Pei-Ming is an apt representative of a generation of global citizens who have at once weathered the alienating mutations of late-twentieth-century geopolitics and relevantly contributed to the ongoing globalization process ensuing upon them. Indeed, the fact that he has existed and worked at the crossroads of global struggle, both physical and spiritual, is what centrally informs Yan’s creative activities.

As if in constant agitation, radiating large, fast strokes that “conquer” the moving ground, Yan’s paintings are not so much frozen structures of color and form as literal testaments to the agency inherent in the process by which they are made—a process that is, notwithstanding, persistently haunted by ideologically suffused memories. Primarily using black (sometimes, red) and white to construct an artificial world beyond the “reality” of the full color spectrum, Yan’s economical portraits of iconic or historic figures (for example, Mao himself, Pope John Paul II, Bruce Lee, and Barack Obama) are, in the most straightforward sense of the word, actions. And, like most actions, these too admit of multiple interpretations.

Yan Pei-Ming was born in 1960 in Shanghai, China. He moved to France in 1980 where he quickly became a star on the French painting scene. Now known internationally for his larger-than-life, much-sought portraits of political and cultural icons, he has emerged as one of the most dynamic and experimental Chinese/French painters. His expressive style and controlled palette reflect aesthetic influences from both the Chinese cultural tradition and twentieth-century Western conceptual art. He has had solo exhibitions at such venues as David Zwirner in New York, the Musée d’Art Moderne in Saint-Etienne (France), the Shanghai Art Museum, the Guangdong Museum of Art in Guangzhou (China), Kunsthalle Mannheim (Germany), and the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon (France). Group exhibitions include the 10th International Istanbul Biennial (curated by Hou Hanru), the 2nd International Biennial of Contemporary Art in Seville (Spain) (artistic director, Okwui Enwezor, SFAI’s dean of Academic Affairs), the Grand Palais in Paris, the Musée du Luxembourg in Paris, and the 1995 and 2003 Venice Biennials.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Christie's auction house says a Henri Matisse oil painting has sold at auction for $41.1 million, (euro 35.9), including the buyer's premium, a record price for a work by the celebrated French artist." Henri Matisse’s 1911 still life of cowslips in a vase, “Les coucous, tapis bleu et rose,” (The Cowslips, Blue and Rose Fabric) was estimated at 12 million euros to 18 million euros.
"A collection with this quality of modern paintings is scarce,” said a Paris-based art adviser. He said he was not surprised to see high prices paid even in a recession: "Established private collectors, art foundations and new players want this kind of cake.”
The vibrantly-colored 2-foot, 4-inch high canvas had been bought by Saint Laurent and Berge in 1981. The work was bought in the room by the New York- based art dealer Franck Giraud. The auction record for Matisse was previously $33.6 million, set at Christie’s New York in November 2006.

Christie’s Yves Saint Laurent Sale fetches Record $262 Million

Constantin Brancusi's "Portrait de Mme LR"

Christie’s has set an auction record for the sale of a private collection with its Yves Saint Laurent event in Paris tonight.

The sale has already fetched $262 million with fees on its first evening, defying a slowing of demand from investors nervous of economic recession. Works by Henri Matisse, Constantin Brancusi and Piet Mondrian set records for the artists’ works.

A wooden sculpture by Brancusi sold for 29.2 million euros with fees. Inspired by African tribal sculpture, the 3-foot, 11- inch high modernist work, entitled “Madame L.R. (Portrait de Mme L.R.),” dated 1914-17, is a three-dimensional portrait of the Parisian art enthusiast Leonie Ricou. The Brancusi piece was formerly owned by the artist Fernand Leger. It was acquired by the late fashion designer and his partner Pierre Berge in 1970 and had been expected to fetch at least 15 million euros.
The record auction price for works by the Romanian-born sculptor Brancusi had been the $27.5 million paid at Christie’s, New York, in 2005 for the marble and stone piece, “Bird in Space.”

Piet Mondrian’s 1922 abstract, “Composition avec bleu, rouge, jaune et noir” (“Composition With Blue, Red, Yellow and Black”) sold for 21.6 million euros with fees, also a record for the artist’s works. It had been expected to fetch 7 million euros to 10 million euros. The record for Mondrian, until the hammer fell, was the $21 million achieved for “New York/Boogie Woogie” at Sotheby’s, New York, in November 2004.

By contrast, the most highly estimated work in tonight’s sale -- Pablo Picasso’s 1914 Synthetic Cubist still life, “Instruments de musique sur un gueridon” -- failed to sell. It carried a valuation of 25 million euros to 30 million euros. The somber, gray-dominated canvas, measuring 4 feet, 2 inches high, had been acquired by Saint Laurent and Berge sometime after 1964.

The first session of the auction in the cast-iron-and-glass space of the Grand Palais, comprising 61 works of Impressionist and modern art, had a presale estimate of at least 128.9 million euros. The record for a single collection at auction, from 1997, was previously $206.5 million with fees, set with a Christie’s, New York, sale of modern artworks owned by the Manhattan collectors Victor and Sally Ganz.

Saint Laurent and Berge co-founded the Yves Saint Laurent couture house in 1961. It closed in 2002, the year in which the Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation was established. The majority of the proceeds from the sale -- held in collaboration with Berge’s own Paris-based auction house, Pierre Berge & Associates -- will benefit the Pierre Berge-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation and a new foundation dedicated to the fight against AIDS, said Christie’s.

Excerpt from report by Scott Reyburn for Bloomberg News.


FEBRUARY 15 - MAY 25 2009

Dan Graham
printed matter
collection Herbert, Gent, Belgium

Dan Graham: Beyond is the first North American retrospective of the art of Dan Graham (b.1942), examining his entire body of work in a focused selection of photographs, film and video, architectural models, indoor and outdoor pavilions, conceptual projects for magazine pages, drawings and prints, and writings. Graham has been a central figure in the development of contemporary art since the 1960s—from the rise of minimalism, conceptual art, and video and performance art, to explorations of architecture and the public sphere and collaborations with musicians and the culture of rock and roll. This exhibition traces the evolution of his practice across each of its major stages, while asserting ongoing themes, most notably, the changing relationship of the individual to society as filtered through American mass media and architecture at the end of the 20th century.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Mrs. Robinson. If that's the best
we can do let's just get the god-
damn clothes off and --

She reaches for her shoe.

Leave it on! Now we are going to
do this thing. We are going to
have a conversation. Think of
another topic.

How about art.

Art. That's a good subject.
You start it off.

You start it off. I don't know
anything about it.


Don't you?

Yes I do. I know quite a bit
about it.

Go ahead then.

Art. Well what do you want to
know about it.

She shrugs.

Are you interested more in modern
art or more in classical art.


You're not interested in art?


Then why do you want to talk
about it?

I don't.

Screenplay by Calder Willingham and Buck Henry

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


In a last-minute turn-around, the modest $50 million bump for the National Endowment for the Arts was saved in the $800-billion economic stimulus act signed into law by president Barack Obama today, Feb. 17. In addition, the so-called "Coburn Amendment," making theaters and art centers off-limits for stimulus funds, was modified. A New York Times article on the development credits the team of representatives Norm Dicks, Louise M. Slaughter, David R. Obey and Nancy Pelosi, who fought for the value of the arts against charges that it benefited only a "leftist elite." However, real credit seems due to what the article describes as "tens of thousands of arts advocates around the country" who blitzed lawmakers with phone calls on the issue, putting the NEA boost back on the table.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


This month’s contemporary auctions reflect the new reality. The market has shifted from a seller’s to a buyer’s market, and the auction houses have been toning down the sales so as not to overstretch a market in correction mode. We will soon find out whether the adjustment is enough, or whether prices are likely to fall further. RISK, RECOVERY, SURVIVAL....let's start changing the dialogue back to CREATION, DISCOVERY, NECESSITY.

On Sunday 1 March 2009, the Van Abbemuseum presents the publication IAN WILSON THE DISCUSSIONS, a catalogue raisonné of all discussions by Ian Wilson between 1968 and 2008. On the occasion of the release of this publication, Ian Wilson will host a new discussion on this day.
After the discussion, the official book presentation will take place and subsequently director of the Van Abbemuseum Charles Esche and former director Rudi Fuchs will review the book. This day also marks the fianle of the exhibition 'Plug In #47 Ian Wilson', which pays homage to the artist. In this exhibition several forms of documentation, such as announcement cards, are presented, as well as a series of artist's books and several early objects, most of them from the collection of the Van Abbemuseum.

Ian Wilson and the Van Abbemuseum
Conceptual artist Ian Wilson (1940, Durban, South Africa) has been interested in spoken language as an art form since 1968. At first, he described his own work as 'oral communication', and later on as 'discussion'. At Wilson's own request, his work is never recorded either as film or audio in order to preserve the transient nature of the spoken word. In 1976, at the invitation of former director Rudi Fuchs, Wilson visited the Van Abbemuseum for the first time. This was the first discussion by Ian Wilson within the context of a museum and it was purchased by the Van Abbemuseum in 1977. Until 1986, Wilson organised discussions at the Van Abbemuseum almost every year.

From monochrome to discussion
At first, Wilson's artistic explorations took place entirely in the monochrome. He was absorbed by questions relating to perception and painting. This is aptly illustrated by the nameless object of fiberglass and white pigment (1967), which was recently purchased by the Van Abbemuseum. His last physical objects, 'Circle on the Floor' and 'Circle on the Wall', were created in early 1968. By making these works, Wilson realized that it was not necessary to make an object to visualize a concept. By letting go of material objects and continuing his artistic exploration in the realm of the spoken word, he was able to make the transition from visual abstraction to non-visual abstraction.

The publication
Wilson created a non-tangible art form, that only exists when the discussion is taking place, and lives on afterwards in the memories of the people that were present. The Van Abbemuseum posed the question if it would be possible to document his fleeting oeuvre. During a visit of Wilson to the Van Abbemuseum in 2006, the idea arose to make a catalogue raisonné, containing all of Wilson's discussions from 1968 until 2008. Using documentation and the recollection of participants, the fleeting works have been catalogued by researcher Chantal Kleinmeulman. For this publication, American art historian Anne Rorimer wrote the essay 'Ian Wilson – The Object of Thought', placing the work of Wilson within the context of contemporaries such as Robert Barry, Joseph Kosuth, Lawrence Weiner and artists collective Art & Language.
IAN WILSON THE DISCUSSIONS has been compiled as a source book to stimulate further research on Wilson's works.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Motion: The art market is less ethical than the stock market


Moderator: John Donvan
Speaking for the motion were dealer Richard Feigen, gallerist Michael Hue-Williams, and collector Adam Lindemann.
Speaking against were Christie’s deputy chair Amy Cappellazzo, painter Chuck Close, critic Jerry Saltz.

Feigen, up first, argued that the art market is relatively unethical because it lacks regulation and offers buyers little protection. He got particularly fired up over “chandelier bidding” (the auction-house practice of making fake bids in order to stimulate competition), perhaps in part because he’d been called “a horse’s butt” for suggesting that eliminating the practice would take the drama out of sales. Slamming the strategy as inherently deceptive, he concluded that the auctioneer’s role has become dangerously ambiguous. Close, speaking next, attempted to redirect the debate by arguing that the value of art is not determined by money at all (a point that earned him a ripple of applause) and that the ethics of its marketing were therefore somewhat moot. Even if its financial value can be manipulated, he argued, its long-term significance comes from artists rather than buyers and sellers.
Hue-Williams,steered things back to the nitty-gritty with a recollection of having been stiffed on a potential big-deal purchase in his early days. He added that the art market lacks transparency—pointing to the creation of auction rings aimed at boosting prices—and has no barriers to entry. (“To become an art dealer, you need to have a pulse.”) Cappellazzo countered this with a theory (borrowed, characteristically, from economics) that the commonly agreed-on preciousness of art ensures that behavior around it is generally ethical. Next to the podium, Lindemann, a self-described “consumptaholic,” began with a meandering comparison with the legal constraints on medical advertising, wondering why dealers aren’t subject to the same limitations as doctors if they really are more public servants than businesspeople. Pointing out that the art market depends on a type of dealing that might be considered “insider” in another field, he concluded, confusingly, “The whole system is ripe for anything to happen, and that’s the beauty of art and the art market.”
Saltz, last to speak, had his own views on what the beauty of art might be. “Art is not optional. It’s always been here, since the beginning, it has never gone away, it’s not going away. OK? It isn’t just a decorative hedge that grows in front of a market or in front of industry or philosophy. Art is a necessity, OK?” If the tone was slightly hectoring (“Am I yelling?”), the message was a refreshing corrective, but not necessarily a convincing argument against the motion. “They’re appealing to the cynical side of your nature,” he claimed of the opposing team. “I love these people, but I hate these ideas! I think you have to just let the art world be what it is.”
There followed a bout of free-form argument, with some respectable points (Cappellazzo: “I don’t think regulation ensures ethical behavior”) and some revealing admissions (Feigen: “I happen not to particularly like [the art world]”) dotting the banter. An entertaining tussle between the dealer and the auction-house boss ended with the latter stating flatly, “A work of art is only worth what someone can ask for it until it resells. Then you know what it’s really worth.” It made a kind of hardheaded sense but did little to endear her to the audience. Saltz returned to the debate’s primary analogy between the art and stock markets: “If you really want to make this comparison,” he shrugged, “you must really hate the art world.” A technical question from a lawyer in the crowd left him more despairing still. “I could never go to trial.”
Closing statements: Close repeated that only consensus can establish true value, and Feigen renewed his call for art-market regulation. Cappellazzo elevated the auction to “an art form” with its own “ancient rhythm and dance” and warned, bizarrely, “if you don’t have street cred, and soul, you ain’t gonna go very far in the art market,” while Hue-Williams bolstered his argument with allusions to Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the 1636 tulip-market crash. Lindemann, perhaps sensing victory, expressed his sympathy for the other side, and Saltz all but threw up his hands: “Yeah, it’s unethical, but no more than you are.”
The final vote at the conclusion of the debate, before a packed auditorium, many from the New York and London art scene, at The Rockefeller University, New York City on February 3, 2009, was 55% for the motion and 33% against. Twelve percent remained undecided. The results saw a dramatic swing in the undecided vote, as prior to the debate, the audience voted 32% for the motion and 30% against. 38% were undecided.

Monday, February 02, 2009


Steven Holl has been awarded the first BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award in the arts category. The awards, organized in partnership with Spain’s National Research Council, seek to recognize and encourage world-class research at an international level. This is the first year the foundation has given an award in the arts category, which encompasses the fields of architecture, contemporary classical music, painting, and sculpture. Notable projects by Holl include the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, and Linked Hybrid in Beijing. According to the jury, he was singled out because of the “the progressive position of [his work] in more than thirty years of professional practice, in its rigorous discipline and consistency,” along with the “the formal, spatial, and functional processes of his personal artistic vision.” test link.

Steven Holl Talks With Charlie Rose