Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Publisher Captures Blogging Trend With Artful Blogging

Publisher Captures Blogging Trend With Artful Blogging


Sample page from the premier issue.

LAGUNA HILLS, CA.- On August 1, 2007, Stampington & Company (publisher of Somerset Studio®, a leading paper and mixed-media art magazine) will introduce its first issue of Artful Blogging™, a new special publication which focuses on the artistic side of the “weblog” trend that is sweeping the internet.

Artists and writers are discovering new and exciting platforms via creative technology to share their work with the world. Artful Blogging taps into this excitement by highlighting the online journals, galleries and blogs of artists such as Michelle Ward, Nina Bagley and more than 35 others in the premier issue. By pairing photographs and artwork alongside excerpts from the artist’s own blog, readers have the opportunity to take a virtual peek inside their lives. The publication also features sections on Blogging Etiquette, Blogger’s Must-Haves and How to Get Started on your own blog spot.

“Most magazines today are moving to the internet, not the other way around,” explains Kellene Giloff, President and Founder of Stampington & Company. “We’re excited to cut a new path by taking these online art adventures out of cyber space and putting them into beautiful, full-color print, giving blogging fans, artists and crafters something permanent to hold in their hands.”

With tens of thousands of blogs currently on the internet and hundreds of new ones expected over the next months, Artful Blogging helps its readers cut through the clutter to discover online journals that are guaranteed to be visually and creatively inspiring.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Corinne Dolle (aka Coco): Pop Intervention - New Paintings

Corinne Dolle (aka Coco): Pop Intervention - New Paintings


Corinne Dolle (aka COCO ), Mia, Acrylic and spackle on canvas, 6 x 6 inches, 2007. Courtesy of Mary Ryan Gallery, New York.

NEW YORK.-Mary Ryan Gallery presents Corinne Dolle (aka Coco): Pop Intervention - New Paintings (The Village Voice Pinups vs. The Victoria’s Secret Girls), on view through August 24. Corinne Dolle (aka Coco) a native of Avignon, France, currently lives and works in New York City. Her work derives from the world she lives in as a woman; her French background imbues her with a sense of the seductive and her life in New York provides her with the constant stimulus of pop culture.

Drawing inspiration from a variety of sources—1950s pin-ups to contemporary fashion and catalogue advertisements—Coco transcribes the image of the commercialized female sex symbol into playful, provocative paintings. The two series featured in this exhibition, The Village Voice Pinups and The Victoria’s Secret Girls, both feature women advertising sex—either the act or the idea— however in the Village Voice sex is taboo, while in Victoria’s Secret catalogs it is glamorized. The Village Voice pinups are accessible, yet controversial, while the Victoria’s Secret girls are unattainable, but accepted.

Coco is fascinated by these two very different portrayals of sex in public imagery. In “Pop Intervention” she isolates and de-contextualizes these images in order to explore the differences and similarities between these two forms of sexual exploitation. Her cartoon-like representation of these objectified women humanizes them and lends them a sense of innocence.

Both bodies of work are mixed media. Each Village Voice pinup is done using a modeling paste-like putty and acrylic paint on a 6 x 6 inch canvas. The finished canvases have a texture similar to a public wall. The Victoria’s Secret girls are made by mounting foam core cut outs on canvas and covering them with a mixture of acrylic paint.

George Bellows at Columbus Museum of Art

George Bellows at Columbus Museum of Art


George Bellows, Standing Nude (female), Date unknown, the litho was done in 1916. Crayon Drawing. 13 x 11 in.

COLUMBUS, OH.-The Columbus Museum of Art presents an exhibition of incomparable collection of drawings by the modern American master George Bellows. The Albert H. Wiggin Collection of the Boston Public Library, which contains nearly 50 masterpieces by one of America’s greatest draftsmen, was last exhibited in the 1950s and has never been presented in its entirety. Demonstrating the artist’s technical and aesthetic versatility, these drawings range in subject from popular sporting events and powerful social commentary, to intimate figure studies and family portraits.

A general lack of scholarly attention to the artist’s drawings might suggest that the medium was, for Bellows, secondary. As the Wiggin Collection demonstrates repeatedly, Bellows created large, highly finished drawings as ends in themselves, as well as developing sketches along the way to the creation of major works in other media.

This groundbreaking exhibition will be accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue of the Wiggin Collection that will feature an important group of essays examining Bellows’ status as a great draftsman, his place among American realist artists and writers, the relationship of these powerful works to his better known paintings and prints, and the history of the Wiggin gift itself.

The Dean Gallery Presents Picasso on Paper

The Dean Gallery Presents Picasso on Paper


Pablo Picasso, La Minotauromachia, 1935, Etching and Engraving. © Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge.

EDINBURGH.-The NGS are staging a major exhibition of Picasso's prints and drawings. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) is widely regarded as the greatest artist of the twentieth century, indeed as one of the greatest artists of all times. Born in Málaga in Spain, he was a child prodigy, quickly eclipsing the work of his father, who was a professional art teacher. He moved to Paris in the early 1900s and remained based in France thereafter. His influence extends over every aspect of the visual arts: no other artist had such a profound impact on the art of his time. Besides his work as a painter and a sculptor, he was also an extraordinary graphic artist, making drawings, etchings, lithographs, linocuts and woodcuts over a period of more than seventy years.

This exhibition, which will occupy the entire top floor and part of the ground floor of the Dean Gallery, is based on the world-famous collection belonging to the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart, Germany. They are generously lending nearly 100 works, including 65 prints, 15 drawings and 10 illustrated books. Other prints are being lent from private and public collections in the UK. The works range in date from etchings done in the early 1900s, during Picasso's so-called 'Rose Period', to the Cubist works of the pre-war years, the Surrealist works of the 1920s and 1930s, the fabulous colour linocuts of the 1950s and the sexually charged work of his late years.

Pablo Picasso was an obsessive draughtsman and printmaker. He made at least 2200 prints in all kinds of techniques: the first dates from 1899, when he was 17, the last from 1972, when he was ninety. The number of drawings he made is so vast it has never been properly counted. This passion for drawing was inbuilt, but it was also steered by two economical considerations: in the first place drawings were cheap to do, and in the second they were easier to sell than paintings.

Picasso had no formal education as a printmaker: instead he picked up techniques as he went along, enjoying the company of technicians who could teach him new skills which he then adapted to his own requirements. He often made mistakes in his work as can be seen in an etching entitled Frugal Meal, which he produced in Paris in 1904. Lacking the money to buy a new etching plate, he simply borrowed an old one from a friend and polished out the previous image before making his own. He seems to have been too impetuous to do the job properly, for he left part of the earlier landscape showing through in places. Close inspection shows that tufts of grass sprout from behind the woman’s head.

Picasso began making prints in earnest in 1905, producing more than a dozen etchings that year, mainly on the theme of traveling circus figures. With the exception of a few woodcuts, all Picasso’s prints from these early years in Paris were either etchings or drypoints. Etchings are made by drawing into a thin wax surface on a metal plate and then biting the lines with acid which etches into the plate. The drypoint technique involves scratching into the metal plate itself: this produces a richer black line when the plate is inked and passed through a printing press.

During the First World War Picasso, the undisputed father of the avant-garde, seemed to take a step backwards. He began making very realistic drawings and these soon became the talk of Paris. Some of his followers called it a betrayal; others followed suit. Picasso worked in this more traditional style alongside his Cubist work, and sometimes combined the two approaches. Influenced by classical art (a trip to Italy in 1917 had made a big impression on him), the drawings of Ingres and Renoir’s paintings, in the 1920s he drew and painted massive, heavy-limbed nudes. Whereas Picasso’s paintings of this period tend to concentrate on one of two figures, in his drawings he produced more elaborate, multi-figure compositions, as in Group of Female Nudes.

Etching is like sketching while lithography is more like painting. Whereas the linear character of the etched line had provoked Picasso into producing narrative scenes, often bound up with myths and mythology, with lithography he frequently worked on portraits. This was also bound up with personal circumstances. It is often said that Picasso’s art changed when his lovers changed, and the arrival on the scene of the young Françoise Gillot, whom he met in 1943, seems to have brought about this new interest in portraiture, as well as in lithography, which she encouraged.

If etching had encouraged Picasso to work in sequence, this was equally true of lithography. With both techniques, the artist can make an image, print it, then erase parts of the plate and rework it. Picasso liked to do this with lithographs, and the prime example is the series of eleven bulls, made between December 1945 and January 1946. Metamorphosis was central to Picasso’s art. With printmaking, and particularly with lithography, Picasso could do exactly that: he could hold on to each stage of that transformation and thereby disclose the magic and mystery. With The Bull, the final sequence of images shows the gradual transformation of a bull as it turns from a massive beast into a few light skeletal lines.

For Picasso, new printing techniques were like new lovers. They inspired him to take new approaches and renew his creative instincts. He became obsessed with half a dozen women and he also became obsessed with half a dozen printing techniques. Art and love were equal partners in the creative process. There will be a lavishly illustrated catalogue to accompany this exhibition, priced £12.95.

William Gray Muir, Director of Sundial Properties, Edinburgh comments, “XXIII Ravelston Terrace is delighted to be supporting this major display of work by Pablo Picasso, perhaps the most influential artist of the twentieth century. We hope you enjoy this spectacular exhibition of Europe’s greatest modern artist in one of Europe’s finest cities.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Fifth Edition of El Museo's Bienal: The (S) Files

Fifth Edition of El Museo's Bienal: The (S) Files


Jessica Lagunas, The Better to Kiss You With ( Para besarte mejor), 2003. Single-channel video. 57:48 min.

NEW YORK.-El Museo del Barrio, New York’s premier Latino and Latin American cultural institution, present its fifth edition of El Museo’s Bienal: The (S) Files from July 25, 2007 through January 6, 2008. El Museo’s Bienal celebrates the experimental, immediate pulse of contemporary art, and supports the work of emerging Latino / Latin American artists based in the New York metropolitan area. The exhibition has been curated by Elvis Fuentes, Associate Curator, El Museo del Barrio, and E. Carmen Ramos, Assistant Curator for Cultural Engagement, The Newark Museum, NJ. In addition, guest curator Rodolfo Kronfle Chambers (independent curator, Guayaquil, Ecuador), has included in the exhibition a selection of works by five artists from Ecuador, this year’s invited guest country.

“The (S) Files” are literally “the selected files”, as many of the works on display have been chosen from the unsolicited submissions to El Museo’s Artists’ Archive over the past two years. This selection is the most expansive to date, with 51 artists showcasing work in traditional mediums such as drawing, painting and photography, as well as more experimental projects incorporating light, sound, and interactive elements, mobile sculptures and site-specific installations.

“The vitality of our bienal is a testament to the artistic contributions Latinos are instilling within New York City,” said Julián Zugazagoitia, Director of El Museo del Barrio. “The dynamism continues to increase as we celebrate the fifth edition of El Museo’s Bienal, reflecting the importance of New York, especially among Latino and Latin American artists, as a capital of culture and of the arts.”

Even among the diversity within the works presented in El Museo’s Bienal: The (S) Files 007, the curators recognize several recurrent themes that have emerged organically within the exhibition. Some of the artists reference the hyper-reality of contemporary culture of violence and war, often in relation to social perceptions of masculinity. Others explore the public dimension of art and examine issues of labor, immigration, language and identity, frequently documenting the artist’s experience or citing art historical traditions. Resounding another global concern, many of the artists approach the environment and the natural world through landscapes real or imaginary, most especially evident in the selection of work from the five artists from Ecuador.

A 131-page bilingual English-Spanish catalogue will be available upon the inauguration of the bienal on July 24. The exhibition will be accompanied by a range of free public programs including a three-part series of conversations between the curators and artists participating in the show and a panel discussion on November 28 with gallerists and Latino artists to offer insights into the art market.

Viewers Enter a Masterpiece in New Installation

Viewers Enter a Masterpiece in New Installation


Wafaa Bilal and Shawn Lawson, Bar at the Folies-Bergère (after Manet), 2003.
Digital video and mixed media. Stephen and Nancy Einhorn Collection.
Image courtesy of the artists.

MILWAUKEE, WI.- Museum-goers are invited to step inside a world-famous painting as the Milwaukee Art Museum presents an exciting new interactive installation amidst the renowned masterpieces in its galleries of European art. On view through July 2008, Bar at the Folies-Bergère (after Manet) is inspired by one of the most popular and debated faces in the history of modern art. The work has been developed by Chicago-based Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal.

Suzon, the barmaid portrayed in Edouard Manet’s Bar at the Folies-Bergère (1882), morphs from a painted figure into an animated, responsive “real person” in Bilal’s high-tech redux of this definitive classic of early modern painting. Employing a false wall, a hidden camera, a projector, and a series of unseen computers to create a digital image that looks just like an oil painting, the work places the image of the viewer into the painting’s mirror, right behind the bar. From this perspective, visitors can interact with the suddenly reactive Suzon, who responds with a variety of moods based on their movements and gestures. Kind viewers can elicit a smile and a wave from her, while more aggressive participants sometimes provoke her to walk right out of the frame.

“We are very interested in having the viewer trigger the work,” notes Bilal, who created the work with the help of artist Shawn Lawson. “We never give instructions. We want people to figure out for themselves what this is all about. It’s not just about the piece anymore; it’s also about having fun and seeing your reflection in that mirror.”

Generously lent to the Museum by Stephen and Nancy Einhorn, Bilal’s work will share a gallery with famous paintings by artists such as Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and Augustine Rodín. Laurie Winters, curator of earlier European art at the Museum, coordinated the display.

Wafaa Bilal was born in Iraq in 1966. Persecuted for creating art that opposed the government of Sadaam Hussein, Bilal escaped to a refugee camp in Kuwait during the Gulf War, and arrived in the United States in 1992. He studied visual arts at the University of New Mexico before relocating to Chicago, where he is currently teaching at the School of the Art Institute. His art is of a political nature that speaks to oppression of the human spirit, including that of women who are bound by the rules of culture. Recently, Bilal spent thirty days in self-imposed confinement at Chicago’s FLATFILEgalleries, for an installation/performance piece called DOMESTIC TENSION. Commenting on the constant dangers currently imposed on Iraqi citizens, Bilal was exposed to fire from a high-velocity paintball gun controlled by visitors to a public website, twenty-four hours a day, for the duration of the confinement. During that time, the website attracted 80,000,000 visits from 130 countries, and the gun was fired some 60,000 times.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Kime Buzzelli (Los Angeles) in Portland

Kime Buzzelli (Los Angeles) in Portland


Kime Buzzelli.

PORTLAND, OR.- Motel presents the solo exhibition of Kime Buzzelli (Los Angeles). In Initials in Apples and Other Futile Spells, Buzzelli introduces a new series of paintings featuring dreamy and disturbed portraits of girls in delicate and exotic fashions. At once haunting and sublime, these works explore notions of magic, the occult and the mysteries of the woods. The title of the exhibition refers to superstitions and magical spells, like carving initials of the one you love in an apple to divine true romance. Invested in a vocabulary of desire, nature, witchcraft and superstition, Buzzelli's paintings are essentially dark love poems inhabited by wicked women, wild animals, secret societies, and places of wonder and fear.

With a fascination with the lives of others, Buzzelli's narrative vignettes both obscure and reveal. Inserting brief poetic text into the compositions, Buzzelli creates juxtapositions which cloud an immediate reading of the work; it is unclear if the words serve as the thoughts of her subjects, or an omniscient proposition. These bits become suggestions or clues to the fictive lives of her subjects which the viewer is left to unravel.

Informed and inspired by the cult of fashion, Buzzelli's paintings invite voyeurism, seducing the viewer with a fantasy that enchants and unsettles. With a loose, easy painterly style, Buzzelli captures a womanhood that is youthful, mischievous, elusive, demure, alienated and at times, grotesque. Exploring the ambiguity of fashion in the feminine psyche, Buzzelli deftly navigates the contradictions and conflicts of an idealized femininity. In as much as the compositions indulge in aesthetic decadence, they are tempered by atrophy, disintegration, and subversion as suggested by trailing brushstrokes, haunting shadows and use of negative space.

Ultimately, Buzzelli's world of ghostly women flirts with the mystical and mysterious powers of femininity, conveying both its beauty and its contested, conflicted nature.

Kime Buzzelli lives and works in Los Angeles, California. Buzzelli studied Fashion Illustration at the Parson's School of Design before receiving a dual degree in Painting and Art Education at Ohio State University. In addition to Buzzelli's fine art pursuits, she is the proprietress of Show Pony, a performance space and boutique featuring handmade clothing by Buzzelli and a roster of independent designers (opened in 2000). Her fine artwork has been shown at New Image (LA), Rocket Gallery (Tokyo), and Deitch Projects (NY), among others. Her fashion illustration has been published in I-D, Elle, W, Cosmopolitan, Paper, Italian Fashion News and Fashion Illustration Next by Laird Borrelli, among others. Her one-of-a-kind hand-crafted clothing has been featured in photo shoots, films and music videos and worn by celebrities including Lindsay Lohan, Shakira, Jane's Addiction, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Nelly Furtado and Jennifer Lopez.

Picasso: Fired with Passion at The National Museum

Picasso: Fired with Passion at The National Museum


Pablo Picasso, Nude Woman with Necklace, 1962 Tate, London © Succession Picasso/DACS 2007.

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND.- This summer National Museums Scotland presents Picasso: Fired with Passion, a newly-created major exhibition which gives a fascinating insight into the extraordinary life and work of one of the most renowned artists of the twentieth century.

The exhibition, only showing at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, will offer visitors a new and intimate perspective on Picasso the man, the artist and the icon.

Drawing from the collections of international organisations and private owners, Picasso: Fired with Passion is one of two in-depth exhibitions that will bring Picasso to Edinburgh, showcasing the different aspects of this world-famous artist. The National Galleries of Scotland’s Picasso on Paper will feature prints, drawings and illustrated books dating from the early 1900s to the 1950s.

The Museums’ exhibition reveals the artist’s work from 1947 to 1961, a significant period of his life when he was working at Vallauris and Cannes in southern France. Over 100 objects, including outstanding examples of ceramics, metalwork, painting and lithography, will be on display, and it is the first significant showing of his ceramics in the UK for over a decade.

Picasso: Fired with Passion offers an intimate glimpse into Picasso’s family life, and his friendships with contemporaries, such as the French artists Jean Cocteau and Georges Braque as well as acclaimed photographer Lee Miller and surrealist painter, poet, and historian Roland Penrose. There are personal objects and photographs, revealing the connections between his private life and his artistic career, which capture the joie-de-vivre of post-war Europe and an important time in the artist’s family life.

Rose Watban, Curator of Applied Art and Design at National Museums Scotland, said: “We are excited to be creating and presenting this major Picasso exhibition in the capital during the Edinburgh Festival. Our exhibition is a fresh celebration of the man behind the art, and the diversity of his work across different media including ceramics and metalwork. Visitors will be surprised to discover this aspect of his creativity, illustrated by over 100 objects drawn from world-class collections.”

Born in Málaga in Spain in 1881, Pablo Picasso spent much of his life in France. He is widely acknowledged as one of the most important artists of the 20th century, and became commercially successful and internationally recognised in his own lifetime. By 1946 his reputation as a painter was established, having produced influential works throughout the early 1900s and, along with Georges Braque, led the creation of the Cubist movement. Picasso then set out to explore new and diverse media, devoting himself to mastering ceramics and experimenting with other applied arts.

The exhibition draws on world-class collections including the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, Musée Picasso in Antibes, Tate in London and Museo Picasso Málaga. Objects on loan include bullfighting posters and tiles, a jug moulded and decorated into the female form, a plate decorated with Picasso’s famous dove of peace, a silver platter, and Lee Miller photographs of the artist.

Legal, financial and property specialists Pagan Osborne are sponsoring the exhibition. Alistair Morris, Chief Executive, Pagan Osborne, said:

“We are delighted to play a part in staging this exhibition. For us, the appeal of Picasso transcends generations and he has a charisma that touches many different people. Therefore, we want our sponsorship to be a catalyst for our staff, their families and our clients to come and enjoy his paintings and to learn about the man himself.”

Picasso: Fired with Passion is accompanied by a publication by the same name from NMS Enterprises Ltd. The book will be on sale in the National Museum of Scotland shop at £14.99.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Andy Warhol's Turquoise-background Liz at Christie's

Andy Warhol's Turquoise-background Liz at Christie's


Andy Warhol’s turquoise-background Liz (Colored Liz), 1963. © Christie’s Images Ltd. 2007.

NEW YORK.- On November 13, as one of the leading highlights of the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale, Christie’s will offer Andy Warhol’s turquoise-background Liz (Colored Liz), 1963. Coolly sexy and stunningly beautiful, Liz (Colored Liz) is part of the series of portraits Warhol executed in the 1960s when his near-obsession with three legendary muses in his life – Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy – drove him to create some of the most iconic portraits of the 20th century. Liz (Colored Liz) is offered by a Private Collector and is expected to realize in excess of $25 million.

Warhol’s celebrity portraits depict figures with larger-than-life personal myths who had achieved levels of stardom that the artist himself desperately coveted. He found his perfect subjects in the three glamorous and universally admired women that he obsessively painted over and over again during the mid 1960s. Warhol himself acknowledged the macabre twist of the project as his attraction to fame came visibly bound with a deep fascination with the inevitable – death. He chose to portray his three semi-goddesses during times of utter distress and beyond. He embarked upon the Monroe series shortly after her suicide had been announced. He executed the Jackie paintings after her husband, President Kennedy, was assassinated. He idolized and immortalized Liz at a point in time when a severe illness led many to believe she would not survive. Death and disaster hide behind every extensive display of glitz and glamour – the eternal message.

However, the Liz portraits take a different stance as they eventually came to depict her recovery. Warhol described, “I started those a long time ago when she was so sick and everybody said she was going to die. Now I am doing them all over, putting bright colors on her lips and eyes.” The present painting, one of a series of twelve, is nothing if not alive – a superbly sophisticated turquoise background mimics and accentuates Liz’s eye shadow while blood-red lips splash verve into the image. In this sensuous fusion of colors, the spectator’s eyes inevitably lock into Liz’s which are of a deep, mesmerizing violet – her famous trademark.

Warhol, by now unanimously revered as one of the most influential, revolutionary and coveted artists of the 20th century, has seen an electrifying development in his market over the past seasons, supported by a widening and truly global audience. Christie’s established a new world auction record for the artist on May 16 when Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I) achieved $71.7 million, more than quadrupling the previous record which had been set at Christie’s in November 2006 for Mao at $17.4 million. Out of the ten most expensive Warhol paintings sold at auction, eight were handled by Christie’s for a total amount of $187 million. Auction: Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale November 13 at 7 p.m. Viewing: London, Hong Kong, Moscow, Los Angeles, New York October, November.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Jack Vettriano's Bluebirds To Sell at Sotheby's

Jack Vettriano's Bluebirds To Sell at Sotheby's


Jack Vettriano, Bluebird at Bonneville. Estimate: £400,000-600,000. © Sotheby's Images.

PERTHSHIRE, SCOTLAND.- Over the past decade Jack Vettriano’s paintings have caught the imagination of the public like those of no other Scottish contemporary artist and this summer with the sale of his first major commission – a commission that marked a huge leap forward in the evolution of his career - he is set to be the talk, once again, of the season. Seven paintings by the legendary - and often hotly debated - artist will headline Sotheby’s sale of Scottish Pictures at the prestigious Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland on Wednesday, August 29, 2007. Among the most important works by Vettriano ever to have come to auction, the seven paintings have adorned the walls of Sir Terence Conran’s Bluebird Club on the King’s Road in Chelsea, London since 1997, when Conran – an early admirer of Vettriano’s work - commissioned the then aspiring artist to undertake the paintings to hang on the walls of his newly acquired restaurant. Each of the works took their inspiration from the celebrated Bluebird cars that Sir Malcolm Campbell (1885-1948), the world renowned racing motorist, drove when he set his nine land speed records during the 1920s and 1930s.

Together the seven paintings (which are to be offered individually) are expected to fetch in excess of £1.2million. The Bluebird restaurant on the King’s Road was originally built as a motor-garage in the 1920s but subsequently served as an ambulance station and indoor market while steadily falling into disrepair. In 1996 it was purchased by Sir Terence Conran and extensively refurbished before reopening as the second of Conran’s Gastrodromes, accommodating two restaurants, a dining club, foodstore and flower/homeware shop, the design of which evoked the spirit and glamour of the 1920s and 1930s. It has always been believed that one of Sir Malcolm Campbell’s early bluebird cars was stored in the motor-garage in the 1920s –a connection that informed Conran’s choice of the Bluebird name for the restaurant. The well-known Chelsea eating spot leant itself well to an association with Sir Malcolm, the Englishman who captured the imagination of the whole world by breaking the land speed record on nine separate occasions between 1924 and 1935 in the exotic and streamlined cars he called Bluebirds, a name he took from a play that he admired called the Bluebird of Happiness by Maurice Maeterlink. A timber-clad display wall of books and memorabilia in the Club was dedicated to Sir Malcolm and this featured models of his famous Bluebird racing cars and boats, illustrations by Paul Slater, motor racing art and photography and an assortment of other items of Campbell Family memorabilia. The Campbell family have always had close links with the Club and Conran and Sir Malcolm’s grandson, Donald Wales, is still a member of the Club today. Conran also sponsored Donald’s attempts to break the electric car world land speed record in the Bluebird Electric in the late 1990s.

The paintings that Conran commissioned Vettriano to paint were for exhibition in the Bluebird Club’s dining room. The works are iconic pieces which embody a film-noir style of nostalgia and a glamorous elegance tinged with undertones of danger and intrigue; of men and fast cars and women in silk gowns and sunshades. Each painting took its inspiration from a moment in the history of the much celebrated Bluebird cars and illustrated left is one of the photographs that Vettriano worked from when undertaking the commission.

Following ten successful years of business, the Bluebird Club has decided to celebrate its tenth anniversary with an extensive refurbishment and it has therefore been decided that the time has come to sell the popular Vettriano works that have adorned the walls for so long.

Born in 1951, Vettriano was the son of a Scottish father and an Italian mother. Completely self-taught (he began doodling as a child on the back of his grandfather’s betting slips, and later taught himself to paint by copying Old Masters using a watercolour kit bought for his 21st birthday by his then girlfriend), he has described his style as “a cross between 1930s railway posters and the covers of pulp fiction”. Whatever the reservations of his critics, Vettriano’s work combines nostalgia and modernity in a way that speaks to a very broad public and he has had huge international success. Art lover Conran has been a well known collector and follower of Vettriano’s work for many years and he even endorsed Vettriano’s book Lovers and Other Strangers: The Limited Edition with: “Jack Vettriano seems to understand perfectly the stylish sexiness and intrigue that you get when high life and low life collide.”

Jack Vettriano remembers: “The Bluebird series was one of my first major commissions, and I was thrilled when Sir Terence Conran approached me with the project. The brief was pretty clear: 'I know you have to paint cars, but try and make them sexy'. I have always had an interest in classic cars and so the commission really appealed. I did a lot of research on the subject, and spent six weeks in my studio producing the works – that’s slow for me! I then waited for the dreaded call……. He loved them!'

Vettriano’ s works have a history of success at Sotheby’s and indeed in April 2004 Sotheby’s sold his most iconic image, The Singing Butler, for £744,500 - a new world auction record for a work by him and also the highest price ever paid for a work of art at auction in Scotland. Sotheby’s also offered Vettriano’s Mad Dogs at Gleneagles in September 2004, where it fetched £330,400. Vettriano’s The Singing Butler and Mad Dogs are the two best-selling posters in Britain. Andre Zlattinger, Director and Head of Scottish Pictures at Sotheby’s, comments: “Vettriano’s works have huge public appeal and he is one of the most commercially successful living artists today. His images are some of the most frequently reproduced of our time - he is a fascinating cultural phenomenon.”

Sir Malcolm was a racing motorist and motoring journalist. He gained the world speed record on land and on water at various times during the 1920s and 1930s using vehicles called Bluebird. Sir Malcolm broke nine land speed records between 1924 and 1935, with three achieved at Pendine Sands in South Wales and five at Daytona Beach in Florida. He set his final land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah on September 3, 1935 and it was on this occasion that he was the first person to travel at a speed in excess of 300 mph. Further to this, he also set the water speed record four times and his versatile racing in different vehicles made him internationally renowned.

Bluebird at Bonneville, estimated at £400,000-600,000, is perhaps the best-known of Vettriano’s Bluebird group and it is also the most valuable of the seven works. It sets the scene of dazzling sunlight refracted from the white sands of the Utah salt flats in Salt Lake City, Utah, where Sir Malcolm achieved his ninth – and last - land speed record in a Bluebird CN7 powered by both Napier and Rolls Royce engines on September 3, 1935. The speed broken was 301.12mph. The second most valuable work in the group, Pendine Beach, portrays the preparations for Sir Malcolm’s challenge to break the world speed record on September 25, 1924 on Pendine Sands in South Wales in his first car called the Bluebird, the V12 Sunbeam Bluebird. The canvas, which is expected to fetch £300,000-500,000, captures the tense anticipation as the spectators gather to admire the car packed on the wet beach beneath a sky laden with morning rain. It was on this attempt that Sir Malcolm achieved his first land speed record, reaching a speed of 146.16mph. A third highlight of the Bluebird group, entitled Daytona Diner, depicts the diner at Dayto

Monday, July 16, 2007

Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection

Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection


Shi Xinning.

BARCELONA, SPAIN.- The Joan Miró Foundation will present Contemporary Chinese Art from the Sigg Collection, on view 21 February – 25 May 2008. The Joan Miró Foundation is presenting an exhibition of works by contemporary Chinese artists from the collection owned by the Swiss diplomat Uli Sigg.

The show aims to reflect the current state of art in China through a selection of some 50 pieces by different artists produced between 1986 and 2006 – a period of enormous economic and social change in the country that has had worldwide implications.

Since the start of the post-Mao economic reforms in 1979, the art scene in China has developed in an exceptionally dynamic way, although it is still difficult for artists to be truly independent.

During the last twenty years, the West has begun to take an interest in the new Chinese art, and Chinese artists have begun to make a name for themselves internationally, demonstrating their skill in the use of the media and techniques of Western art.

They have, however, preserved their specifically Chinese roots, ranging from the pre-modern tradition to the Social Realism of the late 1970s, which can be seen in many of the paintings on view. Some of the artists explore their national identity by using traditional Chinese media and art forms in a different context; others opt for irony and a certain sarcasm.

But above all, Chinese avant-garde art must be seen against the backdrop of the radical social and economic changes that the country has undergone. Many of the pieces reveal the tension between the socialist ideals that are still current and the new consumerism that the shift towards a capitalist economy has brought with it.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Images of Man Today at Arken Museum of Modern Art

Images of Man Today at Arken Museum of Modern Art


Micha Klein: Crystal Powder from God, 2000.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK.- The Arken Museum of Modern Art will presents Images of Man Today, on view through September 2, 2007. Today we are all unique! The individual takes centre stage as never before. From MySpace over politics’ cult of personality to TV entertain-ment where ordinary people pop up as the stars of tomorrow or suffer their homes to be styled and reinvented… We can be who we want to be. ARKEN’s summer exhibition IMAGES OF MAN TODAY spotlights the conditions of the in-dividual in a society where identity has become a lifestyle project.

Young people are united in an ecstasy buzz in an artificial paradise. A butch lorry driver dons a blonde wig to perform a soulful love song. Two human heads turn into a scrapheap from the consumer society’s surplus stock. The artists in ARKEN’s summer exhibition IMAGES OF MAN TODAY offer wry looks at today’s search for identity but the key point is universal: What decides who we are? Is it the trousers we buy, the music we listen to, the papers we read, the TV shows, the car…? What does it mean if you are a man or a woman in an age when the boundaries between masculine and feminine are con-stantly challenged? The freedom to define yourself is greater than ever. Iden-tity has turned into a lifestyle project. It is no longer merely a question of tradi-tion and upbringing. Is there, however, a personal kernel underneath that thick veneer of culture and lifestyle? These are crucial questions in contempo-rary society – and crucial questions in contemporary art.

The art of being human - IMAGES OF MAN TODAY spotlights contemporary art’s depictions of the hu-man form and its explorations of modern man’s identity.

Today artists utilise the human form in exploring the reality which we live in. Their approach is both humorous and critical. You can find artists penetrating the intimate sphere and bringing stories from the private universe of the home, such as Vibeke Tandberg who merges her own and her father’s fea-tures in photographs taken in a typical living room setting. Others challenge the boundaries between the sexes and the desire to be someone other than you are. Young teenagers in search of themselves in new communities are explored; the preoccupation with looks and beauty ideals are turned inside out. E.g. in Dane Lene Stæhr’s Gravity I-III (1998) who literally turns her models upside down, letting them hang, naked and imperfect, their heads up in life-size photographs. While the scantily clad youths in Micha Klein’s streamlined pink paradisiacal vision Crystal Powder from God (2000) are almost too per-fect, with spotless features and bodies.

The roughly fifty works in IMAGES OF MAN TODAY encompass sculpture, draw-ing, photography, video and installation art. They are all selections from ARKEN’s collection which is one of Denmark’s principal collections of interna-tional contemporary art. The artists shown include Jesper Just, Elina Brotherus, Sarah Lucas, Tal R, Micha Klein, Christian Boltanski, Elina Merenmies, Jouko Lehtola, Peter Land, Stella Hamberg, Lars Arrhenius, Keith Cottingham, Tony Oursler, Nancy Burson, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Elmgreen & Dragset and Vibeke Tandberg.

Rino Valido - "Seduction is colour"

Rino Valido - "Seduction is colour"


Rino Valido.

FINALBORGO, ITALY.- The opening of the exhibition “Seduction is colour” by Rino Valido, organised by Galleria Arte Bersani (Bersani Art Gallery) of Finale Ligure, is Friday August 3, at 21.30, in the Complesso Monumentale di Santa Caterina (Santa Caterina monumental complex) in Finalborgo (Sv), with the patronage of the town of Finale Ligure and the Department of Culture. Through 40 paintings of different sizes, sculptures realised with different materials, spread around the three floors of the ancient monastery, which is located within the crenellated walls of Finalborgo, the exhibition shows the work of one of the most interesting and talented artistic personalities in the national panorama. The new exhibition by Rino Valido is a compendium of the latest works, from 1999 to 2007, and groups together creations which even if very different belong to a single gestural project.

“Seduction is colour” shows the attention of the author to the cultural suggestions evoked by the fruitful dialogue of art applied to industry, due to his professional activity as a graphic designer and image communication expert for some important State Companies.

Curious experimenter of different techniques and materials, Rino Valido's artistic exploration is closely connected to his graphic studies and his experience as a “cromista” (colour technician). Reds, electric blues, yellows are the protagonists of these works with pieces of damask and rags, old newspaper pages assembled in “accumulations”, as Valido himself prefers to define them.

Luciano Caprile, curator of the exhibition and author of the review in the catalogue, thus summarizes the aesthetic path of the artist: “Rino Valido's works are really enjoyable and trigger the imagination. His works, even when contaminated by non-pictorial elements, are always balanced and timbrically functional. The colour-material plays a fundamental role in each artistic production while the pieces of material are used to provoke but in a perfectly natural way”.

The exhibition is supported by Fondazione Ansaldo, Banca Carige, Credit Suisse, Studio “Disegno 92”. “Seduction is colour” is open every day until August 31 from 17 to 23; entrance is free.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Irish Museum of Modern Art Presents Lucian Freud

Irish Museum of Modern Art Presents Lucian Freud


Lucian Freud, Sleeping Head, 1979-80, oil on canvas, 40.32 x 50.48 cm, Private Collection, Photo: Courtesy Acquavella Contemporary Art, Inc.

DUBLIN, IRELAND.-Lucian Freud is arguably the most important and distinguished figurative painter working today. This exhibition comprises some 50 paintings, 20 works on paper and etchings, from the last six decades, several being completed just months prior to the exhibition and others never shown before in a public venue. The exhibition also includes a selection of photographs of the artist. Best known for his portraits and nudes, Freud’s subjects include his family, friends, lovers and fellow artists. His early paintings and works on paper are often associated with a meticulous control of the brushstrokes and line, depicting people, plants and still-life, including several made while living in Ireland . From the late 1950s he began to paint people using more various flesh tones and thicker pigment. A number of ‘fragments’ in the exhibition give an indication of the artist’s willingness to leave a picture partly bare. The works in the exhibition are organised thematically and focus on several of the artist’s key areas of interest, for example, paintings of the same person at different ages, self-portraits, animals and double portraits. The formidably detailed study of his garden in Notting Hill Gate, The Painter’s Garden, 2005 – 2006, is as dramatic as any of the nudes.

Lucian Freud, grandson of the renowned psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud, was born in 1922 in Berlin , but moved with his family to the UK at the age of 11. He studied at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London and the Cedric Morris’s East Anglican School of Painting and Drawing in Dedham . His first solo exhibition, at the Lefevre Gallery in 1944, featured the now celebrated painting The Painter’s Room, 1944. Since then Freud has become one of the best-known and most highly-regarded British artists of recent times. A major retrospective of his work was held in Tate Britain in 2002. He lives and works in London .

The exhibition is curated by Catherine Lampert, specialist on the work of Freud, a model for the artist’s friend Frank Auerbach and former Director of the Whitechapel Art Gallery . The exhibition will travel to the Louisiana Museum, Denmark, from 15 September - 28 January 2008 and to the Gemeente Museum , The Hague , from 18 February - 8 June 2008.

The exhibition is presented in association with THE IRISH TIMES. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully-illustrated catalogue with texts by Catherine Lampert, art critic and writer, Martin Gayford, and Freud’s son, Frank Paul.