Thursday, October 24, 2013
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Focus on the Aesthetic Principles and Values
TRAC2014 will focus on the aesthetic principles and values implicit in the representational art of the 21st Century. Having established at TRAC2012 that the representational art community has an important voice, it is timely to explore and articulate its distinctive aesthetic values, vision and philosophical outlook. Our purpose is not to establish a single monolithic aesthetic for representational art, but to identify commonalities, understand the unique possibilities of representational art, and perhaps provide some illumination about future directions.
One of the features of representational art, for example, is attentiveness to the data revealed to our visual sense. The goal of contemporary representational art is not merely to replicate visual data: cameras can do this much more effectively. On the other hand, visuality is important to the representational aesthetic.
What relationship to the world is the artist striving for?
What values guide the hand?
What is the place of the beautiful and the sublime in the process?
Are political, moral, or metaphysical goals at work?
What is the relationship of the artist to reality?
The conference is planned as a focused but non-doctrinaire event, of serious academic standards. Papers of high quality on a variety of topics in the aesthetics of contemporary representational art are invited and welcomed.
We are particularly interested in papers about:
- The Impact of Roger Scruton’s “Why Beauty Matters” and “Beauty”.
- The Life and Work of Odd Nerdrum.
- How 21st Century representational art differs from earlier representational art.
- The role of beauty and/or the sublime.
- What might be the aesthetics of 21st Century representational art.
- Are there common principles shared by representational artists?
- Does the democratic popularity of representational art confer on it any unique value or potentiality?
- The possibility of cross-cultural aesthetics in representational art.
- Do globalization and rapid cultural change provide uniquely relevant material for representational artists?
- The internet and contemporary representational art.
- The 21st Century representational art movement as a renaissance.
- The aesthetic contribution of the craft aspect of representational art.
- Can representational art convey truth? If so, how, and of what kind?
- Allegorical symbolism in the new millennium.
- Idealism, imagination and representation.
- Morality and politics in 21st century representational art.
- What is the relation to reality of the authentic representational artist?
- Aesthetic analyses (not autobiographical) of significant contemporary works of representational art.
Saturday, September 28, 2013
Works by Duchamp, Matisse, Picasso, Cézanne, Gauguin, and Van Gogh will be on display in The Armory Show at 100: Modern Art and Revolution, which revisits the famous 1913 New York Armory Show on its 100th anniversary. In 1913, the International Exhibition of Modern Art came to New York. Organized by a small group of American artists and presented at the Lexington Avenue Armory (and thus nicknamed the Armory Show), it introduced the American public to European avant-garde painting and sculpture. This exhibition is an exploration of how the Armory Show inspired seismic shifts in American culture, politics, and society.
The Cleveland Museum of Art Wades into Global Controversy over Antiquities Collecting with Exhibition and Catalog on its Ancient Bronze Apollo
The Cleveland Museum of Art rarely publishes catalogs that try to stir broad public debate on politics, law, cultural identity and global diplomacy.
With the release of a new catalog on Friday, however, the museum is wading directly into the international controversy over collecting ancient works of art whose ownership histories, or provenances, remain partially or entirely unknown.
The book, “Praxiteles: The Cleveland Apollo,” authored by the museum’s curator of Greek and Roman art, Michael Bennett, accompanies a new exhibition opening Sunday that focuses on a controversial ancient bronze statue of Apollo purchased by the museum in 2004.
Using scientific evidence and art-historical analysis, Bennett builds the most forceful case yet that the life-size bronze is an ancient Greek original, not a later Roman copy, and that it is likely the work of Praxiteles, one of the greatest sculptors of ancient Greece.
The book is also an impassioned critique of international laws aimed at halting trade in looted antiquities.
Bennett states that such laws – while correctly focused on halting illegal activity - have also cast a stigma on “orphaned” works such as the museum’s Apollo, whose time and place of excavation and recent history are unknown.
Archaeologists familiar with the Apollo have said on numerous occasions that when museums collect such works, they encourage looting and trafficking of antiquities.
Bennett, however, states that the Apollo was one of thousands of antiquities in private hands whose ownership histories are not completely documented. Lack of such documentation, Bennett writes, is not evidence that an object was looted. It’s not a case of guilty until proven innocent.
“Illegality cannot be presumed, or we are heading toward a repeat of the Spanish Inquisition or the McCarthy hearings,” Bennett writes.
“It’s stating our position on many things people have talked about,” Franklin said of the Bennett catalog. “It’s a very dramatic moment for the museum.”
Franklin said the symposium would include archaeologists and other experts who may not agree with the museum’s position on the Apollo and on antiquities collecting in general.
But he said he wanted to hold the symposium after giving scholars a chance to absorb Bennett’s arguments.
The opening of the Apollo show and the release of the catalog coincide with the opening of a second antiquities exhibition opening on Sunday: "Sicily: Art and Invention Between Greece and Rome."
The exhibition stirred controversy over the summer when Sicilian authorities threatened to cancel the Cleveland run of the show, which opened earlier this year at the Getty Villa in Los Angeles, if the museum didn't pay additional loan fees imposed at the last minute.
Last month, the Sicilians relented in exchange for the Cleveland museum's agreement to exhibit works from its collection in Sicily in 2015.
Bennett called the simultaneous opening of the two shows on Sunday "an ancient art double feature."
The exhibition Apollo exhibition includes two ancient Roman copies of the Apollo sculpture, which help prove that the ancient bronze purchased by the museum was the original on which the copies were based, Franklin said.
The loaned works are the marble “Apollo Sauroktonos,” or “Apollo the Lizard-Slayer,” from the Louvre Museum, a first-century ancient Roman work, and a second, first-century Roman marble version of the same motif from the World Museum in Liverpool.
The museum has dated its bronze to 350 B.C. and believes it may be the original referred to as a work of Praxiteles by the ancient Roman author Pliny the Elder.
In the sculpture, Apollo is depicted as an adolescent god in the act of slaying a reptilian creature crawling on a tree branch.
According to ancient Greek myth, Apollo, the god of light, reason, poetry, music and prophecy, destroys chaos by killing the creature.
Bennett’s catalog essay states that Pliny erroneously identified the reptile in the sculpture as a lizard. Instead, Bennett states, it's a mythical python - not to be confused with the enormous snakes of Africa and Asia.
The curator therefore retitled the work “Apollo the Python Slayer” and theorizes in the catalog that the sculpture may have been connected to the ancient Greek site of Delphi, where Apollo’s triumph over the python was regularly re-enacted in religious processions.
The museum reportedly paid $5 million for the sculpture, which it purchased in 2004 from Phoenix Ancient Art, based in New York and Geneva, Switzerland.
Ali Aboutaam, one of the firm’s two principals, was convicted in absentia in Egypt in 2003 on charges of smuggling and sentenced to 15 years in prison. The New York Times reported in 2007 that the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence.
Ali's brother and partner, Hicham Aboutaam, pleaded guilty in New York in 2004 to a misdemeanor federal charge that he falsified a customs document.
Before the museum bought the sculpture from Phoenix Ancient Art, it obtained a written statement from German lawyer Ernst-Ulrich Walter stating that he found the sculpture lying in pieces in a building on a family estate he reclaimed after the fall of East Germany.
Walter also reportedly said he remembered seeing the piece on the family estate in the 1930s.
The museum has never released Walter's statement and has no plans to do so, Bennett said Friday.
Based on the statement from Walter, and on scientific tests, Bennett states in the catalog that the sculpture was excavated and removed from its original site as long as a century ago, placing the work beyond the reach of modern laws aimed at halting the looting of ancient artworks.
In 2007, Agence France-Presse reported that unnamed Greek officials stated that the Apollo was fished out of the sea between Greece and Italy. Greece never presented evidence, but in response to the country’s claims that the work was stolen, the Louvre canceled plans to exhibit the Cleveland sculpture in an exhibition.
Franklin said Friday that research by the museum proves conclusively that the Apollo "was not recently pulled out of the ocean but has been on dry land for some time."
Thursday, August 15, 2013
Art is often understood as a comment upon, or a reflection upon our society. As observers, artists are capable of showing us a mirror of our own actions, beliefs, or political systems. Directly engaged with aesthetics, they are also capable of influencing the way we see our surroundings, or challenging the beliefs of their predecessors.
The recent ban of works in countries including Syria and Russia highlight the ongoing difficulties faced by artist who – whether intentionally or not – produce works which provoke. Art Media Agency explored the history of censorship, and its continued impact upon our relationship with art.
Historical examples of censored works
Many works which today are regarded as exemplary or outstanding, were originally subject to censorship by political or religious figures who deemed their content inappropriate or offensive.
In fifteenth and sixteenth century Italy, the strong influence of Catholicism saw a number of artists denounced as irresponsible proponents of the immoral or unholy. In 1565, under orders from Pope Daniele de Volterra, a pupil of Michelangelo made revisions to the Sistine Chapel fresco, The Last Judgement, adding loin cloths to figures which Michelangelo had originally left unclothed. The act earned the promising young artist the nick name “Braghettone” (“the britches-maker”) – an unfortunate diminution of his broader capabilities which would follow him for the duration of his career.
To modern observers, the former Pope’s direction seems amusingly prudish – an admission of an uncomfortable awareness of nudity – and perhaps sexuality – which is far surpassed by the skill, colour, and indeed every other aspect of the work. It seems highly unlikely that contemporary visitors to the Sistine Chapel leave the ancient building with an overwhelming sense that they have been visually assaulted by a surfeit of nude bodies.
And yet, during the 1600s, Michelangelo’s frescoes received a barrage of outraged comments from visitors who saw not skill, but obscenity. Commenting on the work, poet and satirist Pietro Aretino wrote:
“Is it possible that you, so divine that you do not deign to consort with men, have done such a thing in the highest temple of God? Above the first altar of Jesus? Not even in the brothel are there such scenes as yours…”
Though the style of the satirist perhaps demanded Aretino exaggerate his outrage – and the last phrase appears to be an uncensored admission of his propensity for brothels – the writer’s voice was not isolated. His criticism was echoed by Biagio Cardinal da Cesena, who described the fresco as “a stew of nudes, better suited to a bathhouse or roadside wine shop than the Pope’s chapel”.
The ongoing shock of the nude
Centuries after Michelangelo’s figures were forcibly clothed, nudity continued to shock the public, with new styles of production and differing approaches to the figure perpetuating the idea of the body as a battle ground.
Thought to have been commissioned by Turkish diplomat and collector Khalil-Bey, Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde (1866) has become one of the world’s most famous examples of censorship. Originally part of a collection dedicated to the female figure, the piece was not exhibited in a public institution until 1995, when it joined the permanent collection at Paris’s Musée d’Orsay, a flutter of excitement still following the controversial artwork.
Originally thought to have been displayed behind a curtain, the painting passed through several private collections, with its last individual owner being psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan. Representing the female body as no other “Salon” artist had dared to, The Origin of the World gained mythical status in the arts circles of 19th century Paris, with M. Du Camp, a contemporary of Courbet describing the work as “the final word in realism” – a comment to which he added, facetiously “the artist, who had copied his model in a naturalist manner, had forgotten to render the feet, the legs [...] and the head.”
In 1865 – a year before the creation of Courbet’s work – Edouard Manet’s Olympia similarly scandalised Paris, when it was exhibited at the city’s annual salon. The piece depicts a reclining female nude, draped across cushions in a pose which had previously been seen in Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538), Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus (c. 1510), and Francisco de Goya’s La maja desnuda (circa 1797–1800), known in English as The Naked (or Nude) Maja.
For outraged observers – who described the work as “immoral” and “vulgar” – it was not the nudity of Manet’s subject which was offensive – perhaps because of the classical, conventional arrangement – but her arresting, unwavering gaze. Yet some commentators praised the artist for his honesty, with writer Zola stating:
“When our artists give us Venuses, they correct nature, they lie. Edouard Manet asked himself why lie, why not tell the truth; he introduced us to Olympia, this fille of our time, whom you meet on the sidewalks.”
Zola’s description of Manet’s work as the “the truth”, heard against voices which described the piece as immoral, encapsulates the complex relationship which observers of the period had with artistic representations of nudity. By this period, Michelangelo’s censored figures had comfortably entered art history tomes as classical – perhaps aspirational – figures. A “classical” understanding of painted nudity had developed, which Manet’s Olympia and Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde directly negated, offering depictions of the human body which acknowledged it’s reality with an offensive pragmatism.
Whilst works depicting nudity have sparked outrage for centuries, works of art which are stifled or destroyed because they offend those in power suggest a desire to control, not just representations of the human body, but of the ideas of a collective group.
Censorship often accompanies pieces which present an uncomfortable truth, responding to, or representing political injustice, conflict, or morality. In regions where political rule is accompanied by tightly-controlled propaganda, artists who seek to veer away from accepted forms of image production present a dangerous unknown, capable of undermining governing forces whilst acknowledging unspoken truths.
Perhaps one of the most prominent contemporary examples of an artist persecuted for political reasons, Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei produces works which directly criticise his native government’s approach to democracy and human rights. In April 2011, he was detained for 3 months, with Chinese state media describing the artist as a “deviant and plagiarist” – description prompted by works such as ” 草泥马挡中央 – grass mud horse covering the middle”. Depicting the artist leaping into the air naked, the caption – perhaps abstract or non-sensical to the Western observer – gains a sudden meaning in Chinese, where it sounds dangerously like 肏你妈党中央 – or “Fuck your mother, the Communist party central committee”.
The China Daily subsidiary, The Global Times, released an editorial in response to the arrest on the 6 April 2011, acknowledging, rather than defending, the dangerous nature of Weiwei’s production:
“Ai Weiwei likes to do something others dare not do. He has been close to the red line of Chinese law. Objectively speaking, Chinese society does not have much experience in dealing with such persons. However, as long as Ai Weiwei continuously marches forward, he will inevitably touch the red line one day.”
The artist’s detention sparked an international protest, with both The United States and the European Union condeming his detention. The international arts community began “1001 Chairs for Ai Weiwei” – a series of petitions which called for artists to bring chairs to Chinese embassies and consulates across the world on 17 April 2011 to “sit peacefully in support of the artist’s immediate release”.
A street art campaign, incorporating slogans including “Free Ai Weiwei” and “Who’s afraid of Ai Weiwei” (the latter acknowledging art’s potential to intimidate and threaten) travelled across Hong Kong and further afield. One of the most prominent proponents of the campaign was London’s Tate Modern, which still has “Release Ai Weiwei” emblazoned across its glass tower in giant lettering.
The censorship of politically-motivated art works can paradoxically increase their visibility. Where work is censored, media bodies may initially respond with a broader focus on the implications for human rights and a right to freedom of expression. This initial investigation, however, will inevitably highlight what it is that censoring bodies originally wished to cover up – a desire to erase which often points towards a significant truth.
In 1982, Syrian doctor and artist Kamal Al-Labwani witnessed the Hama massacre, in which the country’s government crushed the uprising by the Muslim brotherhood – an event which led him to oppose the ruling Ba’ath party and establish the Syrian Liberal Democratic Union. He was arrested in September 2001, after attending a political seminar in the house of fellow activist Riad Seif, before being released in 2004 – a period which allowed him to briefly travel to the US and through the EU, before he was once again arrested upon his return to Damascus in 2005.
Al-Labwani’s paintings reflect upon his experiences in prison, and the Emergency Laws which have been in force in Syria for the past 40 years, focusing on the human rights abuses which affect citizens of the country. His paintings have been exported to the United Kingdom, and he has been supported by bodies such as “Freedom to Create”, which seeks to promote creativity as an essential component of human expression and “just and fair societies”.
Whilst the Syrian artist’s paintings initially sought to respond to the political situation in his country, Al-Labwani’s incarceration increased both the prominence of his works in international media, and the unjust sentence imposed by the Syrian government. His case came to the attention of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in 2009, the body concluding that Dr. Labwani “had been condemned for the peaceful expression of his political views and for having carried out political activities” that are protected under international law, also deeming his trial unfair.
In Russia, a spate of recent arrests and instances of censorship in the art world have paradoxically increased international awareness of the country’s intolerant laws, and the government’s attempts to control its citizens’s free speech. Earlier in September, the Saint Petersburg police were the target of criticism across international media when Vera Donskaya-Khilko’s painting Wrestling – which depicted Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama fighting to prove their manliness – was removed, and the director of the museum which held the work was detained for 24 hours.
This was recently followed by the arrest of performers from the group Pussy Riot, the Moscow-based collective, established in 2011, which seeks to promote women’s rights in Russia, and which has broadly opposed Putin’s leadership. In a period preceding the 5th Moscow Biennale – described as the “La semaine de la censure” (the week of censorship) by the Journal des Arts, t-shirts made by Pussy Riot members Artem Loskutov and Masha Kiselva depicting the group as religious icons were censored, and images of the works were banned online. In the same week, an exhibition at Marat Guelman’s Moscow gallery, featuring photographs of the city’s destroyed buildings, was threatened with closure by authorities who deemed the show’s content offensive.
Whilst examples of censorship in Syria, Russia and China are the direct results of a political regime’s desire to stifle artistic expression, incidences of censorship continue to appear in regions ordinarily connoted with the active promotion of free speech.
In 2010, MoCA director Jeffrey Deitch, who became renowned for showing some of the most innovative and interesting contemporary art in his eponymous New York gallery for a period of around 15 years, attracted attention after the decision to censor a large-scale work – which he himself had commissioned – by Italian street artist Blu. The latter was asked to produce a large-scale mural at the museum’s entrance, and presented his initial idea in a preliminary sketch: a huge painting of the coffins of war casualties draped, not with American flags, but with dollar bills.
The artist began work whilst Deitch attended Art Basel, though rapidly grew unpopular with the director, who requested Blu paint a different mural over the coffins – an emblem which would be more likely to invite people to come into the museum. The artist refused to compromise his practice, responding to Deitch by stating that he had simply chosen the wrong man for the job. The work was whitewashed shortly after its completion, with LA MoCA justifying its action by stating:
“The Geffen Contemporary building is located on a special, historic site. Directly in front of the north wall is the Go For Broke monument, which commemorates the heroic roles of Japanese American soldiers, who served in Europe and the Pacific during World War II, and opposite the wall is the LA Veterans’ Affairs Hospital”.
Directly engaged with the link between Capitalism and warfare, however, and coinciding with the controversial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the piece was more prominently a critique of approaches to contemporary conflict, rather than a trivialisation of the actions of war veterans. The work, however, was covered before debate, or critique, could begin.
Nor have we quite overcome the ability to be shocked by the naked form – even in an age which has seen works by Lucien Freud and Jenny Saville. In 2011, experts who carried out the restoration of a mural depicting a 13th century “Tree of Fertility” were accused of attempting to sanitise the piece by scrubbing out the 25 phalluses which had happily hung from the tree’s branches. Restorers denied accusations, stating that the affected areas had been removed due to compromising deposits of salt and calcium. Others, however, were more sceptical, with town councillor Gabriele Galeotti commenting “Many parts of the work seem to have been arbitrarily repainted”.
For those who feel that art should be a forum dedicated to the freedom of expression, censorship is nothing other than problematic. In cases of political censorship, artists are revealed to be socially responsible figures, whose practice seeks to highlight and change the society it comments upon. For others, censorship might represent a means of correcting works which outrage, or which show a purposeful disregard for accepted cultural practice. This was the argument against Blu’s piece from LA’s MoCA, and is often the reaction to controversial pieces by artists such as Jake and Dinos Chapman.
The controversy which censorship attracts ultimately raises the question of the artist’s role in society, and the idea that they might have social responsibility. Censorship opens up much broader questions about the role of art as truth, and the problematic implications of forcibly constrained expression. Commenting on the complex nature of the issue at a May conference on censorship, Tate director Nicholas Serota stated:
“We can probably all agree on many of the principles that we seek to uphold. What’s actually much more difficult is to recognise that there are no easy paths, that there are no guarantees by which, and through which, we can preserve this hard fought-for right for the freedom of free expression.”
That art is still capable of provoking political unrest, violent debate, and protest is an attestation of its value and power. It is also an admission of its complexity; inextricably linked to notions of liberty, truth and justice, art seems set to continue to attract the attention of those who would prefer it to be silenced.
Monday, July 29, 2013
The Distinction between Photography and Painting
Photography and paintings can bring various kinds of strengths and weaknesses. Typically in photography, it is commonly considered as a realistic expression. As Andre Bazin claims, photographs are the unique way to be extraordinarily or realistic. It can realistically show the objects beyond the reach of paintings, drawings, and even other handmade pictures.
Consider how the judge in court uses the pictures. Photographs of a crime are more likely as evidence in court for judges than paintings or drawings. Without a doubt, photographs are more useful than a sketch of Person X intentionally doing something to Person Y. However, a full-color oil painting or a painting can look 90% realistic of the crime sense, but it unfortunately cannot be the same as photographs.
So, why this happens?
Andre Bazin’s Epistemological Realism explanation
According to Andre Bazin, photography has a special nature that separates itself from paintings or drawings. He believes that photography is one kind of comparison of the cinema to mirrors. It has the similar function as mirrors because it aids to vision, which allows us to see things in the way that we are otherwise unable to see. In other words, photography can be mirror-like reflection of reality. As the photographs can only depict real things, they have only few possibilities to misrepresent them. Consequently, the photographers have the epistemological function of informing us about the visual appearance of photographed things.
Such epistemological realist’s view agrees that photographs have an intimate relation with reality. It defines the relation as an adequate reflection. It can arguably say that epistemological realism depends on ontological realism. We believe that the photograph is reliable not because it has some visible feature, but it is because the casual origin of its visible features. The features, accordingly, relate to intimation.
Consider the following situation: My friend Angel, Hong Kong Portrait Photographer, takes a picture of a person, and this person’s friend also paints a portrait of him. Although the portrait painting is highly detailed picture, it still cannot be considered as a portrait photograph. In other words, it can be only an extremely realistic looking painting, as we can perceive the same person from both of the photograph and the painting.
According to epistemological realism, it is because our knowledge that features the portrait painting lacks the intimate relation with reality. That leads to the difference our experience of seeing the portrait photographs and portrait painting. Since the contents are different, the paintings are produced by intentional subject who can choose to portray reality and fictional characters. Photographs can represent reality.
Close Up: Capture vs Follow the Actual Objects
In short, epistemological realism holds the explanation to distinct the difference between photograph and painting. Clearly, a photograph is always an image of something which actually exists. The photograph can capture the actual things, such as actors, objects, or even the background setting. Paintings cannot have exact same function. It is because we get the photographs’ intimate relation with reality, whereas the paintings do not have. Without such intimate relation with reality, the painters can only closely follow the objects but they cannot exactly capture everything from the objects in the paintings, which makes the paintings less realistic than the photographs.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Saturday, May 18, 2013
On May 24 at China's Hong Kong Convention Center an outfit called Intelligence Squared will host a formal debate during the debut of the newest spinoff of the Art Basel franchise of international art fairs. The motion under consideration will be: "The Market Is the Best Judge of Art's Quality."
Honest. That's the topic for debate. I figure the program harbors two, maybe three minutes of chat -- tops.
The panel is a retread of a 2011 program held at London's Saatchi Gallery. (You can watch that one on YouTube.)
But the short retort to the market-based judgment is: Nope. The longer answer is: Bernard Buffet.
You've never heard of him? In the 1950s the savior of the School of Paris rocketed to fame and fortune and became the Next Big Thing -- until he wasn't. Since then plenty of superstar market-darlings were once hot, then not -- and vice versa. Make your own list. The cultural landscape is littered with painters and sculptors seduced, abandoned or just plain ignored by the profit-driven markets, regardless of artistic depth.
Never mind the ordinary vagaries of supply and demand, which transform market prices -- whether for Picasso, pork bellies or Cabbage Patch dolls -- into the distorted reflections of a fun-house mirror. The market is just a shopping mall; it judges what's best for the market -- what sells. Which is fine by me.
A cynic might even wonder why decisions on cultural values would be entrusted to the faceless financial elites responsible for the recent crashing of the economy, throwing millions into turmoil. And then there's the matter of young artists coming out of burgeoning art schools with massive debt, just like their non-artist peers: They need to pay back loans somehow, which creates enormous pressure on their work, which feeds into the market maw, which ... you get the idea.
So the art market is a judge of quality, just like Mom and cousin Fred are, but hardly the best judge.
There's a simpler explanation as to why collectors and dealers aren't the ones deciding who, finally, are the important artists. (Nor, for that matter, do curators, critics or the general public.) It's because artists do. Artists decide who is worth paying attention to among their cohorts.
They do it by picking up indirectly from modern culture's unconscious -- or flat-out stealing from the best. What we call quality is largely a factor of the breadth, depth and longevity of excitement artists harbor for other artists' work. Art comes from art. It doesn't come from Goldman Sachs.
Scheduled to speak in favor of the debate's market motion at the new Hong Kong art fair are Amy Cappellazzo of Christie's auction house and longtime art investment advisor and art dealer Jeffrey Deitch, current director of the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Speaking against the market as arbiter of the best are Matthew Collings and Rirkrit Tiravanija -- both artists.
Pick your vested interests. Debate over.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
The "Mona Lisa" in Paris' Louvre Museum for more than three centuries has long been regarded as the only one painted by Leonardo da Vinci. Now there's new proof a Swiss-held version is also by the master's hand.
New tests on a painting billed as the original version of the "Mona Lisa," Leonardo da Vinci's 15th-century portrait, have produced fresh proof that it is the work of the Italian master, a Swiss-based art foundation said Wednesday.
The tests, one by a specialist in "sacred geometry" and the other by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, were carried out in the wake of the Geneva unveiling of the painting, the "Isleworth Mona Lisa," last September.
"When we add these new findings to the wealth of scientific and physical studies we already had, I believe anyone will find the evidence of a Leonardo attribution overwhelming," said David Feldman, vice president of the foundation.
The "Mona Lisa," in Paris' Louvre Museum for more than three centuries, has long been regarded as the only one painted by Leonardo — although there have been copies — and claims for the Swiss-held one were dismissed by some experts last year.
But it also won support in the art world, encouraging the Zurich-based Mona Lisa Foundation, an international group that says it has no financial interest in the work, to pursue efforts to demonstrate its authenticity.
Feldman, an Irish-born international art and stamp dealer, said he was contacted after the public unveiling of the portrait — which shows a much younger woman than the Louvre's painting — by Italian geometrist Alfonso Rubino.
"He has made extended studies of the geometry of Leonardo's 'Vitruvian Man'" — a sketch of a youth with arms and legs extended — "and offered to look at our painting to see if it conformed," Feldman told Reuters.
The conclusion by the Padua-based Rubino was that the "Isleworth" portrait, named for a London suburb where it was kept by British art connoisseur Hugh Blaker 80 to 90 years ago, matched Leonardo's geometry and must be his.
The Zurich institute, the foundation said, carried out a carbon-dating test on the canvas of its painting and found that it was almost certainly manufactured between 1410 and 1455, refuting claims that it was a late 16th-century copy.
Earlier brush-stroke studies presented last September by U.S. physicist and art lover John Asmus concluded that both the "original" version and the Louvre crowd-puller were painted by the same artist.
The authenticity of the foundation's painting, discovered by Blaker in an English country house in 1913, has been fiercely challenged by British Leonardo authority Martin Kemp, who argued last year that "so much is wrong with it."
Feldman and foundation colleagues retort that Kemp has never followed up on invitations to come to see it.
Documents show Florentine nobleman Francesco del Giocondo commissioned a painting of his wife Lisa around the turn of the 16th century. In French, the Louvre's version is known as "La Joconde" and as "La Gioconda" in Italian.
Supporters of the "younger" version say it was almost certainly delivered unfinished to del Giocondo before Leonardo left Italy in 1506 and took up residence in France, where he died in 1519 in a small Loire chateau.
From the Giocondo house, it probably eventually found its way to England after being bought by a traveling English aristocrat, this account runs, while the Paris version was probably painted by Leonardo around 1516 in France.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
What sound does a bubble make just before it bursts? We heard it last week at the Art Basel fair in Miami, where the rich flock to stock up on art each December. A Richard Prince “nurse,” hung amid Picassos and Miros, selling for $6.5 million; a Damien Hirst “medicine cabinet” priced at $4 million; Julie Mehretu squiggles, barely a decade old, for $2.6 million—all for sale at Art Basel, and all with prices so high they are bound to crash-land.
Sunday, January 13, 2013
2011, oil and acrylic on canvas
It can be argued that we are living in the true golden age of painting. Artists like Gottfried Helnwein and many others display a skill and emotional depth that has rarely been achieved throughout human history.
2005, oil and acrylic on canvas
More of Helnwein's work can be found at: http://www.helnwein.com/
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
The tables have been turned on street artist Banksy, as the graffiti satirist gets spoofed by one of his own. A rival street artist, calling himself ‘Hanksy’, has been recreating Banksy artworks across New York’s Lower East Side but with one addition – the face of Tom Hanks!