Young German artists capture collectors' attention
July 30th, 2004
Fresh blood has given the international popularity of German art a boost, as collectors in New York and London snatch up works by young German artists, Sabina Casagrande writes in Deutsche Welle.
A new generation has emerged in the footsteps of slightly older artists like Neo Rauch: Martin Eder, Tim Eitel, Jonathan Meese, and Daniel Richter are a few of the thirtysomethings who have become extremely popular on the international market, earning the moniker Young German Artists, or "YGAs."
A painting by Francis Bacon valued at £9.5m could be sold overseas of UK
July 30th, 2004
A painting by Francis Bacon valued at £9.5m could be sold overseas after a UK export ban ran out on Tuesday.
A temporary banning licence for Bacon\'s Study After Velasquez was granted by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in May.
The DCMS hoped the ban would ensure a buyer could be found in the UK for the 1950 artwork.
Bacon believed it had been destroyed and it was only rediscovered after his death in 1992.
Withdrawn from exhibition twice, Bacon sent the work to his art material supplier and later expressed regret at its loss.
The piece was based on the work of Spanish renaissance painter Velasquez\'s Portrait of Pope Innocent X, painted in 1650.
The DCMS\'s reviewing committee on the export of works of art said Bacon\'s painting had been recommended for the temporary export ban because of its \"outstanding aesthetic quality\".
The government recently placed an export ban on The Burgomaster of Delft, by artist Jan Steen, which dates from around 1655 and is owned by a family in Wales.
New “anti-terrorist” display case for the Mona Lisa
July 24th, 2004
Leonardo’s most celebrated work, the Mona Lisa, has deteriorated so significantly over the last year that conservation experts at the Louvre have ordered urgent analysis of its condition, to be carried out early next year when the work is removed from its current display case and installed in a new climate-controlled vitrine. It will then be moved to a new, specially-designed gallery as part of a E2.3 million project paid for by the Japanese company, Nippon TV. Although this project was announced a few years ago, it is finally coming to fruition. A routine study of the work in May revealed that the thin poplar wood on which it is painted has begun to warp. Although the warping has occurred at the rate of “less than a millimetre” over the past year, according to Vincent Pomarede, chief curator of the Louvre’s paintings, one side is buckling at a faster rate than the other, causing “some concern”.
A routine study of the work in May revealed that the thin poplar wood on which it is painted has begun to warp. Although the warping has occurred at the rate of “less than a millimetre” over the past year, according to Vincent Pomarede, chief curator of the Louvre’s paintings, one side is buckling at a faster rate than the other, causing “some concern”.
The oldest museum in Britain has been awarded a £15m lottery grant to pay for an ambitious redevelopment scheme
July 22nd, 2004
Curators at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford plan to put the windfall towards doubling the amount of display space and opening 30 new galleries.
The transformation of the neo-classical building will cost a total of £50m and also include a new education centre.
The Ashmolean opened in 1683 when Elias Ashmole presented Oxford University with his collection of antiquities.
Its treasures now include early Chinese and Islamic ceramics, Renaissance sculptures and paintings by Turner and Uccello.
The revamp will bring its Roman and Greek collections under one roof for the first time.
Nicholas Barber, chairman of the board of the museum, said: "This is an exciting time in the long history of the Ashmolean.
"We are proposing nothing less than the total transformation of the oldest museum in Europe and these generous grants will go a very long way towards helping us."
Sotheby's Management and Art Handlers at an Impasse
July 21st, 2004
Sotheby's auction house has told 54 unionized workers at its East Side headquarters they are going, going, gone - at least until they come to an agreement on a new contract.
Sotheby's informed Teamsters Local 814 last week that the property handlers - who move art, furniture and objects around the premises - wouldn't be allowed to return to work until a labor pact was reached.
The previous three-year contract expired June 30 and the company said it gave the union two weeks past that date to work without one. The two sides have negotiated for seven weeks, the company said, but as of last night no further sessions were scheduled.
"As a service business we can't risk an unplanned interruption of vital client services," Sotheby's spokeswoman Diana Phillips said yesterday, explaining why it barred union employees from the company's headquarters at York Avenue and 72nd Street, starting last Thursday. The workers set up picket lines.
Phillips said their jobs are being performed by other employees and with "temporary, external" resources, as needed. No auctions or exhibitions are held during the summer, so the public isn't being blocked from entering the building, she said.
In the wake of a price-fixing scandal four years ago with rival Christie's, and a recent downturn in the art market, Sotheby's, a venerable auction house that dates to 1744, has reorganized and restructured its business. It established strict cost controls and slashed the North American nonunionized work force by a third.
It also decided to target the highest end of the art market. As a result, it now handles 40,000, or 68 percent, fewer lots in New York than it did in 1998. In that time no unionized worker has been laid off, Sotheby's said. In the past four years, Sotheby's lost about $312 million. Its former chairman, A. Alfred Taubman, who remains majority shareholder, went to federal prison and former chief executive Diana Brooks was sentenced to house arrest.
The company said it wants to align Local 814's expenditures with the rest of the operation. It isn't proposing to reduce the unionized staff but wants reductions in other areas.
George Daniello, Local 814 vice president, said the company is seeking "a lot of givebacks," including overtime and holidays.
Phillips said the company's final offer called for modest increases in compensation, plus cost-of-living hikes, in each year of a four-year pact. It asked for reductions in overtime, such as paying time and a half in certain situations, instead of double-time, she said.
Daniello said he believes the company brought in replacement workers. He said the two sides are "pretty far apart now, but the gap was closing when we got locked out."
"We hope this will be resolved quickly so that our union colleagues, who are valued Sotheby's employees, will be able to return to work," Phillips said.
The labor unrest comes as the auction house is preparing to rent out space during the Republican National Convention for donors and delegates. The guests will be treated to a preview of an upcoming September auction of property owned by the estate of country music stars Johnny and June Carter Cash.
The director of London's ICA , announced his resignation yesterday and said that Britain had become culturally "insular".
July 21st, 2004
Philip Dodd, the director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, announced his resignation yesterday and said that Britain had become culturally "insular".
Dodd, 54, is credited with saving the ICA, founded in 1947 as an "arts laboratory" and housed in The Mall in central London, from financial collapse when he became director seven years ago.
He was at the centre of a row in 2002 when Ivan Massow, the ICA's chairman, a homosexual, Tory, fox-hunting insurance millionaire, said that conceptual art, often championed by the ICA, was "self-indulgent craftless tat".
After a battle between Dodd and Massow, the latter was forced to resign.
Dodd said he would set up cultural projects between Britain and China. The first, funded by Li Kha Shing, one of China's richest industrialists, will bring together "15 key global figures" in Beijing next year to discuss how children should be educated in the 21st century.
Dodd added that he believed Lo ndon was no longer the world's most culturally exciting city, a position it enjoyed in the "Cool Britannia" days of the 1990s.
He said: "My odd feeling about Britain is that it has become curiously insular for all of Tony Blair's talk of us being an outward looking people.
"Now the world looks bigger, noisier and more interesting than Britain does.
"The 19th century belonged to Britain, the 20th century belonged to America and the 21st century is going to belong to Asia, China and India."
Nigel Reynolds, Arts Correspondent
The first Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art will open in January 2005
July 20th, 2004
Next January, museums across the city will deck their halls with the latest trends for the first Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art.
A dead shark could be hanging in the Tretyakov Gallery next January if British bad boy Damien Hirst accepts an invitation to show his work at the first Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art. More than 50 artists from Russia and abroad are due to take part in the grandiose event, which aims to put the capital on the modern-art map.
Recently announced at a news conference, the non-commercial art show will be partially funded by the Culture and Press Ministry, while the chairman of the organizing committee is former Culture Minister Mikhail Shvydkoi, who now heads the Federal Culture and Cinematography Agency.
The month-long event is scheduled to open January 18, 2005, in a range of state-owned art venues, including the Tretyakov Gallery, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, the Central House of Artists, the Shchusev Architecture Musem and the Moscow Museum of Contemporary Art.
Among those invited to present their work are Britart star Hirst, known for suspending the bodies of shark, cows and sheep in formaldehyde, and Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, who created hyper-realistic sculptures of Adolf Hitler at prayer and Pope John Paul II felled by a meteorite, an Izvestia report stated.
The final lineup will become known in the next two or three weeks, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
So far, only one participant has been confirmed. California-based video artist Bill Viola will show installations at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Vremya Novostei reported museum director Irina Antonova as saying. In Viola's recent work "The Passions," commissioned by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, actors depicted extreme grief and despair in a series of slow-motion films.
In addition, an international group of seven curators will create two projects based on the Biennale's theme, "Dialectics of Hope" (Dialektika Nadezhdy), a title taken from a book by Boris Kagarlitsky.
The budget for the event has not yet been announced, but Izvestia quoted coordinating curator Iosif Bakshtein as saying that the Culture and Press Ministry would contribute $1 million.
The 50th anniversary of the death of legendary artist Frida Kahlo is being marked with a series of events in Mexico
July 14th, 2004
Kahlo, who was left disabled after a bus accident in her youth, died in Mexico City, aged 47, on 13 July 1954.
The wife of mural artist Diego Rivera and close friend of Leon Trotsky, Kahlo was known for her communist ideals.
Five exhibitions and four new books will mark the anniversary. Kahlo's life became an Oscar-nominated film in 2002.
Critics have said the artist has become the victim of crass commercialisation.
This week the artist's 75-year-old niece Isolda Pinedo Kahlo will launch a Frida Kahlo auction of accessories that will include jewellery, shawls and sunglasses.
Prices for these items start at $100 (£53.90) - the most that Kahlo ever received for one of her paintings during her lifetime was only $300 (£160).
The Kahlo family does not have rights for the painter's art.
"The family has the right to use the name commercially," said Alejandro Trad, who is Pinedo Kahlo's business representative.
Penedo Kahlo is also publishing a book called Frida Intima (Intimate Frida) which alleges the artist's husband helped her die, after spending her last hours in a semi-comatose state from painkillers.
"We reveal a great family secret," said author Maria de Anda, who has helped compile the book.
Kahlo's mystique has gown in the last few years, with high-profile stars such as Madonna championing her work, while Salma Hayek made and starred in an Oscar-winning film about her.
She became "first a legend, then a myth, and now a cult figure," said author Hayden Herrera, who wrote a 1992 biography about her.
"It is surprising to see her transformed into a commercial trademark," said photographer Cristina Kahlo, a niece of the artist, who said Kahlo was a committed communist up until her death.
A Japanese tycoon Soichiro Fukutake opens a new museum to share his dazzling private collection
July 13th, 2004
July 19 issue - Soichiro Fukutake was strolling through a Claude Monet exhibition at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts when he arrived at a large, never-before-exhibited two-panel canvas of waterlilies. He was mesmerized. A little plaque on the wall indicated that the painting was on loan from a Paris gallery. Great news, he thought; the piece wasn't confined to a permanent museum collection. That was in 1998. Today "Water-Lily Pond" (1915-26) hangs in Fukutake's Chichu Art Museum, opening this Sunday on the picturesque island of Naoshima in western Japan. "The painting was begging me to take it with me," deadpans Fukutake, chairman and CEO of Benesse Corp., a Japanese education-services empire. "What else could I do?"
He could have bought the show's catalog like other people, but that's not his style. Fukutake, 58, is the most visible and vigorous art collector in postbubble Japan. Unlike the country's 1980s investors, who paid millions of dollars for Picassos, Renoirs and van Goghs that they promptly stashed away in storage, Fukutake believes passionately in sharing his collection. But only to those willing to travel: Naoshima is a 20-minute boat ride from Okayama, the nearest big city, which itself lies 700 kilometers southwest of Tokyo.
It's worth the trip. The Chichu is merely the latest installment in Fukutake's scheme to turn remote, hilly Naoshima into a major international center for art. Those who know the collector say he leads a modest life—no flashy cars or designer suits—except when it comes to art. His Okayama-based company—which operates correspondence courses for kids, nursing homes, lifestyle magazines and the Berlitz International chain of language schools—bought the southern part of the island in 1987 for 1 billion yen. Fukutake thought that after decades of preoccupation with economic expansion—and the ensuing recession—Japanese needed to rediscover themselves with the help of fine arts. "Art is a medium that helps a person reflect on himself, but it requires a certain environment," he says. "I believe in the power of art."
He hired the Japanese architect Tadao Ando to design Benesse House, a museum and small hotel rolled into one, which opened on Naoshima in 1992. The place soon housed 20th-century masterpieces by such artists as Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollock, David Hockney and Bruce Nauman. Then Fukutake began hiring international artists like Jannis Kounellis, Richard Long, Cai Guo Qiang, Tatsuo Miyajima and James Turrell to produce unique pieces that fit the setting. Kounellis, for example, used Naoshima's driftwood for his sculpture, while Miyajima restored a 200-year-old house into a walk-in installation called "Kadoya." "Commissioning site-specific works has given the island a new identity," says Yuji Akimoto, director of the Chichu Art Museum.
As Naoshima's reputation spread, art lovers from around the country began pouring in. Since 1990 the number of annual visitors has grown sevenfold, to 74,000 last year. That's a welcome change for the island, where the population has dwindled along with its main employer, a copper refinery, from 8,000 in the 1960s to about 3,600 today.
After Fukutake ran into the big Monet in Boston, and bought it for an undisclosed sum in 2000, he decided to build another museum, the Chichu—literally, "underground." All three stories of the museum, also designed by Ando, are buried in the earth. Fukutake says the idea came about while he was discussing the relationship between art and nature with artists and the architect; Ando stepped aside to let the artwork and Naoshima's scenic beauty shine.
The museum's permanent exhibition contains only nine pieces by three artists: Monet and the contemporary artists Walter De Maria and James Turrell. But each work is absorbing and requires a long time to take in. De Maria's installation "Time/Timeless/No Time" (2004), for instance, occupies an entire room and has a solemn, cathedral-like quality. A flight of steps leads to a landing where a large, black granite sphere rests. Spaced at different elevations along the walls are gilded wooden posts that recall the pipes of an organ. Above the sphere is a rectangular skylight. The highly polished ball reflects the sky, the gilded posts and visitors, throwing off an image that keeps changing. In the Mo-net gallery, the monumental diptych of waterlilies awash in soft blue, pink and purple sparkles in the natural light that comes through slits in the ceiling. Four other Mo-nets surround the gorgeous centerpiece.
Fukutake is already planning to expand his art empire—but it will require another boat ride. Within the next few years, he hopes to open a museum on nearby Inujima island, which he bought in 2001. Fewer than 80 people (average age: 70) live there, and the transportation is even spottier than Naoshima's. But the challenges don't faze him. "Inconvenience was never a problem before," he says. It just gives him another chance to test the alluring power of art.
By Kay Itoi
A painting by Vermeer, that was once dismissed as fake, has been sold in London for $30m
July 8th, 2004
Young Woman Seated at the Virginals, thought to have been painted in about 1670, was the first Vermeer to be auctioned in more than 80 years.
Sotheby's auction house had put a reserve price of £3m on the picture.
Measuring just 10 by 8in (25 by 20cm), the painting is by an artist known for more than 30 works - including Girl With A Pearl Earring.
An anonymous buyer paid a total of £16,245,600 ( $30m) for the painting.
Showing an upright piano, known as a "virginal" or "spinet", being played by a young woman, it is the only fully accepted example of Vermeer's work in private hands.
The painting's authenticity was questioned in 1947, when Dutch master forger Han van Meegeren went on trial for selling artworks to the Germans during World War II.
He admitted that he had sold seven fake Vermeers to museums and collectors.
The painting was largely forgotten until it caught the eye of the late Belgian collector and dealer Baron Frederic Rolin in 1960.
In 1993, he showed it to Sotheby's Old Masters specialist Gregory Rubinstein, who suspected it might be the real thing.
Mr Rubinstein said pigments used in the painting matched those that Vermeer used - and which set him apart from his contemporaries.
The dimension of the canvas and its structure matched another Vermeer painting, The Lacemaker, suggesting the canvasses were prepared at the same time.
The last Vermeer to come up for auction was The Little Street in Amsterdam in 1921, whose buyer subsequently donated it to Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum.
All the fixtures, fittings and artwork from Damien Hirst's chemist-themed restaurant Pharmacy are to be sold by Sotheby's
July 6th, 2004
The artist's west London venue featured aspirin-shaped bar stools, pharmaceutical cabinets and huge paintings of butterflies by Hirst.
Pharmacy became a trendy hotspot when it opened in 1998, but closed last year after falling out of fashion.
Sotheby's expect the 140 items to raise more than £3m in the 19 October sale.
Ashtrays from the restaurant and bar are expected to raise £150 each, design drawings are due to fetch more than £2,000 each and a molecular model sculpture is expected to raise £150,000.
"When Pharmacy opened in 1998 it was a landmark restaurant, typifying everything that was happening in Britain at that time, in terms of art, food, celebrity, New Labour and Cool Britannia," said Oliver Barker, senior director of Sotheby's contemporary art department in London.
Co-owned by Damien Hirst, Matthew Freud, Liam Carson and Jonathan Kennedy, the Notting Hill restaurant's name was contested by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and was temporarily changed to the anagram Army Chap.
"I was very disappointed when Pharmacy closed," said Damien Hirst. "It was like losing a friend and I didn't know what to do with all the stuff.
"I mean, I can only use so many plates and pots and pans myself."
Staff at Pharmacy wore uniforms inspired by surgical gowns and lab coats, and it frequently confused members of the public who mistakenly tried to collect their prescriptions from the restaurant.
Hirst said: "A woman asked me once for an aspirin and I had to say 'I'm sorry we have a strictly no drugs policy here.'"
Gerhard Richter donates personal collection of 41 works to Dresden Museum
July 5th, 2004
The Art Newspaper can reveal that one of the world’s leading painters, Gerhard Richter, is to give a personal collection of 41 works, mostly paintings, to Dresden’s Albertinum gallery. Although the details remain to be finalised, it will initially be offered on a 20-year loan and the hope is that the arrangement will eventually become permanent. The Dresden State Art Collections is unable to discuss values, but Richter’s paintings are among the most expensive by a living artist and the collection may well be worth around €100 million ($121 million).
The story of the Richter offer begins with the disastrous flood of August 2002, when the River Elbe broke its banks at Dresden. An auction of donated works of art was held to help raise money to support the Dresden State Art Collections in its salvage efforts.
Richter, who was born in the city in 1932, donated the most important work for the auction. “The rock” sold for €2.4 million on 13 November 2002, going to an anonymous buyer who immediately offered it on long-term loan to the Albertinum. We can reveal that the owner is an Asian collector with a major Richter collection.
Dresden State Art Collections general director Dr Martin Roth then had the idea of inviting Richter to visit the Albertinum, to thank him for his generosity.
Richter had been brought up in Dresden, where he had studied at the Kunstakademie alongside Baselitz and Penck. He fled from the German Democratic Republic in 1961, the year the Berlin Wall was erected, and moved to Düsseldorf. He has only rarely revisited Dresden, mainly in recent years, and now lives in Cologne.
Richter’s trip to Dresden did not take place until April this year, but it very quickly led to the establishment of a relationship with the artist which resulted in the present offer. To link up with his roots, and acknowledge the impact of the city’s Old Master collection on his own development, he offered 41 works, mostly paintings. These date from the early 1960s to the present, encompassing Richter’s entire career. Among the most important are “Dead bodies” (1963) and “Dutch sea battle” (1984).
Richter’s paintings are highly sought after by collectors. The auction record for a work by the artist is $5.4 million, paid in 2001 for “Three candles”, but the artist’s North American dealer Marian Goodman says that some works have sold privately for $10 million.
The plan is to put the 41 Richters on show in the Albertinum from 20 August, for six months. A further 11 Richters will be on loan from the Asian collector whose initial generosity led to the Richter offer. Next February Dr Roth intends to close the Albertinum for a major rebuilding project. The Richters would then go on tour, probably to Düsseldorf’s K21 gallery (Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen) and to Japan. Building work, which would include a new storage depot, should be finished within two or three years, partly funded by the Saxony government.
When the gallery reopens, its name may well become the Albertinum-Richter Collection. Dr Roth points out that this is the first major addition to the Albertinum since before the 1930s, when the Nazis forced the sell-off of “Degenerate Art”. The Nazi period was then followed by the German Democratic Republic. As Dr Roth explains: “This is the first really big donation for more than 70 years. Richter is giving Dresden its artistic future.”
A rare portrait by 18th century British artist Joshua Reynolds has sold for £3,365,600 at Sotheby's
July 1st, 2004
The 1782 painting reached its estimate price of between £3m and £4m at the sale in London on Thursday.
The portrait of a merchant's wife called Mrs Baldwin was sold to the Compton Verney gallery in Warwickshire.
A similar painting of Mrs Baldwin was withdrawn from a Christie's auction in 2003 when it emerged it was mainly painted by Reynolds' studio assistants.
"We were delighted to see Reynolds' dazzling portrait of Mrs Baldwin achieve such a good price," said David Moore-Gwyn, head of British paintings at Sotheby's.
"We were especially pleased to see it go to such a good home: the fact that it was bought for the Compton Verney Art Gallery means that those visiting the gallery will now have the opportunity to enjoy one of Reynolds' finest works," he added.
Mrs Baldwin, a merchant's wife, attracted many admirers including Emperor Joseph I and Doctor Johnson.
When she visited Vienna in 1780, Emperor Joseph was so entranced with her beauty he commissioned a portrait bust of her.
Reynolds' painting was not a commissioned work - it was something he painted on his own initiative.
Unusually, the artist was so proud of his painting of Mrs Baldwin that he kept the portrait and it was only sold after his death in 1792.
The auction record for a painting by Reynolds was set in November 2001, when Sotheby's sold Portrait of Omai for £10,343,500.
In June last year, Sotheby's sold Reynolds' Portrait of Lady Kent for £2,690,600 - the second highest auction price ever reached for a work by the artist until Portrait of Mrs Baldwin was sold.
It went for five times the reserve price.
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