Friday, September 28, 2007

Sotheby's London to Hold Contemporary Art Sale

Sotheby's London to Hold Contemporary Art Sale


Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-88), Untitled (Head), 1981. Estimate: £2,500,000-3,500,000. © Sotheby's Images.

LONDON.- Sotheby’s forthcoming series of Contemporary Art sales in October will be the highest value ever staged in this season. In addition to the annual 20th Century Italian Art sale (scheduled for Monday, October 15th), an Evening and a Day Sale of Contemporary Art will also be held (on Friday, October 12th and Monday, October 15th, respectively). The total pre-sale estimate for the series stands at £48-68 million, demonstrating the growing significance of the month of October in London’s Contemporary Art market, since the inception of the annual Frieze Art Fair in 2003.

The Evening Sale will feature highlights in a variety of sections once again, from classic Pop to the strongest ever selection of Chinese Contemporary works. Meanwhile the 20th Century Italian Art sale will include works by some of the key Italian artists of the 20th century, with highlights including works by Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni and Alighiero Boetti.

Untitled (Blue Divided by Blue) is an extraordinarily rare work on paper by Mark Rothko (1903-70), one of only four recorded works on paper made by the artist in 1966. In the second half of the 1960s, Rothko’s palette had become increasingly somber. At the time, he was consumed with the greatest commission of his career – the monumental murals for the De Menil Chapel in Houston. Unlike the darker, melancholic palette of those works, the incandescent rays of celestial blue here radiate like a chink of optimism in a period of the artist’s life which was becoming increasingly blackened with the onset of despair. Estimate: £2,200,000-2,800,000.

Andy Warhol’s (1928-87) Jackie, from 1964, is the outstanding example from this celebrated series from the father of Pop art. The revered First Lady is captured looking characteristically glamorous and smiling just moments before her husband’s assassination, an event that irrevocably altered the political landscape. Bought from the Leo Castelli Gallery in the 1960s, the work has remained in the same collection; its status further elevated by the registration of the silkscreen which renders the image with utter clarity. Unlike the majority of the works from this series, this example shows in peerless detail the President by her side in the final moments of a private relationship played out in a public arena. In a picture that speaks volumes, Jackie enshrines on canvas one of the defining moments of modern American history. It is estimated at £800,000-1,200,000.

Francis Bacon’s (1909-92) Studies of Isabel Rawsthorne is a masterful depiction in a rare diptych format of one of the artist’s closest female friends. The completed work was Bacon’s gift to Dr Paul Brass, who, following on from his father Dr Stanley Brass, was Bacon’s personal physician and with whose family Bacon maintained extremely close ties until the end of his life. The appearance on the market of this exceptional work, the final portrait that Bacon painted of his friend and one which has only ever been on view to the public once (at the Marlborough Gallery in 1994) is an unprecedented event. The painting is entirely fresh to the market and is estimated at £1,500,000-2,000,000.

Measuring over two metres in height, Adenosine is a huge work from Damien Hirst’s (born 1965) breakthrough series of Pharmaceutical paintings. As one stands in front of it, the 99 spots, each of a different colour, seemingly pop in a brilliant chromatic display. What makes this example so special is the date: made in 1992, it is one of the earliest works in the series, made in the same year that the artist was nominated for the Turner Prize. One of the most important artists of his generation, this truly seminal work shows Hirst hitting his creative stride. The work is estimated at £1,800,000-2,500,000.

Raqib Shaw (born 1974) draws upon his Indian ancestry and European education to shape his layered paintings. A masterpiece on a grand scale of bewildering technique and glowing opulence, The Garden of Earthly Delights III was recently exhibited at MoMA in New York, as part of the 2006 exhibition ‘Without Boundary: Seventeen Ways of Looking’ and is by far the most important work by the artist ever to be offered at auction. The painting is one of the largest of the artist’s most significant series of works – one of which holds a prominent place in the MoMA’s permanent collection. Shaw took his inspiration from the 16th-century epic triptych of the same name by Hieronymus Bosch and reworked the themes of hedonistic pleasure, extreme bliss and whimsical Surrealist fantasy. The monumental triptych is estimated at £400,000-600,000. Untitled (Head), a monumental painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-88) dates from 1981, the artist’s breakthrough year, when he made the transition from the streets of Brooklyn to the hallowed gallery spaces of Chelsea. To the right-centre we see a wonderfully expressive head which stares aggressively out of the picture plane. Part skull, part self-image, it reveals Basquiat’s early fascination with anatomy, primitivism, and his Haitian and Puerto Rican cultural heritage. To the right, what looks like a grid of Manhattan streets, is in fact the court of play for the New York street game Scully. Literally and metaphorically bringing the street into the art gallery, here we see the young and brilliant spirit of Basquiat at the moment that his graffiti-inspired iconography revitalised the art world of the 1980s. The work is estimated at £2,500,000-3,500,000.

Further highlights include works by Banksy (born 1975), considered by some to be the spiritual heir of Basquiat. The rise of Banksy through the art market over the past year has been stratospheric, and the success of his works included in Sotheby’s June sales has merited the inclusion of a number of pieces in this season’s sales once again.

The Rude Lord, one of his celebrated ‘Crude Oils’ series, in which he applies his street graffiti motifs to fine art paintings by other artists, was exhibited at Banksy’s first show in Los Angeles last year and is estimated at £150,000-200,000. David, Banksy’s life-size resin, fibreglass, enamel and wax version of Michelangelo’s High Renaissance masterpiece, one of an edition of three, is estimated at £120,000-150,000.

The Chinese Contemporary section of the sale is particularly strong and in addition to paintings by Zhang Xiaogang, Zeng Fanzhi and Cai Guo Qiang, the section will be highlighted by a major work by Yue Minjun (born 1962). Yue Minjun’s The Pope was sold in Sotheby’s June Contemporary Art Evening Sale for £2,148,000, a record price for a work of Chinese Contemporary Art at auction. This time he is represented by Execution, painted in 1995, and arguably the artist’s most vehement, candid and politically loaded work in the wake of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations of 1989. Monumental in scale and in meaning, the artist references two of Western art history’s most infamous and politicized paintings – Francisco de Goya’s The Third of May 1808: The Execution of the Defenders of Madrid (of 1814), and Edouard Manet’s own interpretation of that work, The Execution of Emperor Maximilian, from 1867-68. The work is estimated at £1,500,000-2,000,000.

Among the works in the 20th Century Italian Art sale, standout pieces include Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale of 1955, a work of waterpaint and coloured glass stones on canvas. The work represents the fully-evolved climax of the spatial investigations that Fontana had initiated with his first cycle of holes in 1949. He had started adding pieces of glass to the painted surface from 1952, which led to his stones series, amongst which this example is outstanding. The year of this work was one of exceptional activity for Fontana, he held one-man shows in Milan at the Galleria dello Zodiaco and the Galleria San Fedele, both of which addressed religious themes. It is estimated at £600,000-£800,000.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

At the End of the Day - Carlo Gori

At the End of the Day - Carlo Gori


Black Kid by Carlo Gori.

OSAKA, JAPAN.-Italian artist, Carlo Gori, arrives in Japan for the first time bringing his artistic work in progress begun 6 months ago at Westbury Farm Studios in Milton Keynes, Uk about his central theme: love for humanity.

At the End of the Day is about his own experiences and the choices humanity makes: violence, war, perversion of truth, the rubbish inside us. This is why Carlo likes to use rubbish in his work - the packaging that we and so many things are wrapped in.

Gori’s style follows the paradox of life itself - from the serenity of naïvety, defined simply by black within white space to the chaos of violence. The violence of acid colours thrown onto the canvas like blood oozing from an open wound, dripping wet to the floor. The raw energy of fingernails that scratch texture, where water dissolves and bare hands smear.

He likes to use a lot of black. You have to search for the introspective figures conventionally defined by its contrast, white space. “I like the imperfection, like the flaws of a human being, with the extraordinary possibility of diversity. Variations on a theme – personalities, identity but we long to be the same. The need to explore and peel away the layers that imprison us, to reveal the essence of who we really are. Together different. A mirror that we have to shatter to go beyond, to be our total poetic action”. Preview by Anoif Remah.

Contemporary Presents Rare Essence

Contemporary Presents Rare Essence


Inez van Lamsweerde, Rebecca, 50 x 50 cm – 19.7 x 19.7 inches. Cibachrome under diasec | limited edition of 5.

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM.- Aeroplastics Contemporary presents Rare Essence, on view through November 3, 2007. Using clever digital tricks, Ryuta Amae creates what he describes as “virtual memories”. His sources of inspiration are myriad: vast imaginary landscapes which he draws in black lead, and banal images drawn from everyday life, which he modifies in extraordinary ways. The first work in a new series, maternity, which he is presenting here, is based on a real photo which he interprets in order to produce a scene with religious connotations. As always with Amae, there is a gap between the identifiable subject (here, an archetypal Virgin and Child) and the elements disturbing the interpretation of it (nudity and a dark setting). Apart from his technical prowess, his photographs, which resemble daydreams, question sharply the relationship between the recorded image and the memory: is digital manipulation akin to altering memories?

The huge panoramic views by Nicholas Kahn & Richard Selesnick bring the viewer straight into the world of the imagination: each photograph can be looked at individually or in relation to the other images making up the series. An essential role is played in these photographic tales by the written word, the narrative. The sources are very varied: from the exoticism of City of Salt to a homage to the science-fiction prose of the beginning of the 20th century with Apollo Prophecies. Mixing genres is also a great speciality of Cédric Tanguy: his photographic fresco in which he appears as the grand admiral of a frenzied polar expedition is (actually) inspired very freely by the painting Vue de l'océan glacial, pêche au morse par des Grœnlandais by Frenchman François-Auguste Biard (1798-1882), produced following his visits to Lapland and the Spitzberg. There is no need to point out that the painter’s concern for accuracy is quite alien to Cédric Tanguy, who prefers to allow his fertile imagination to roam free…

However, mystery can emanate from something other than baroque, while dreams often distort reality only slightly: the images by Inez van Lamsweerde go even further because they introduce into an already fictional universe – fashion – visual discrepancies that are both simple and spectacular. In the same way, Sam Taylor Wood uses Bram Stoker’s Chairs to engage in several levels of interpretation: his allusion to the author of Dracula is a reminder of one characteristic of vampires – they do not have shadows, just like the chair on which the artist is perched. The improbable position of the body is emphasised by that of the phantom chair.

Jean-François Fourtou has no need of a complex strategy: the presence of one of his very realistic camels alongside Mr and Mrs Messmer confers a touch of welcome humour to the bourgeois drawing-room. As for Hendrik Kerstens, the bizarre is at the heart of his project which he has been conducting for over ten years, using his daughter, Paula, as his sole model. Possessed by the spirit of the Dutch 17th century painters, her portraits bear the marks of a doubly ambiguous relationship: she is the only subject of her own father. Ambiguity is also at the heart of the work of Shadi Ghadirian, which focuses on the female condition in contemporary Iranian society. Without once falling into the cliché of denunciation, the photographer plays subtly with the taboos on representing the body. Ctrl, Alt, Delete, her new series, evokes like the previous ones the gap between tradition and modernity. Concealed by the black background, the female character is simultaneously revealed by the computer software icons she holds. As for Carlos Aires, the hilarious faces in his gallery of portraits contrast with the severity of the black baroque frames in which they have been placed. But it is all in plastic – just for a laugh, so to speak.

In the church images of Andres Serrano, the minute execution of the photography is inversely proportional to the apparent banality of the subject – architectural details which thereby acquire a strange aura. However, in Paul Glazier’s work, everything is stage-managed to create a universe hovering between the celestial and the terrestrial, peopled with humanoid ectoplasm. In his video Yellow Brick Road Works, revisiting the central theme of the Wizard of Oz, sound occupies a key place and emerges as an extension of the strange world of the photographs.

While the neon blue and white of Tracey Emin evokes a cry of love and a fusion relationship (You Forgot To Kiss My Soul), the sequin embroidery of Frances Goodman, precious objects used as supports for various maxims, are geared more to introspection. I Am The Happiest Person Alive, Deadly Serious…: drawn from conversations with des body-builders, etc. these phrases refer to collective emotions, but emotions which each person feels in a profoundly individual way. The artist compares her work to the pop music of a radio station: whatever her mood, she always ends up hearing a song she likes…

The sculptures of John Isaacs and those of Olivier Blanckart are deeply anchored in the real world, where they introduce all kinds of distortions: with Let the Golden Age begin, the former transforms a memorable drinking session into a fairy-like vision, while his portable tombstone (A Perfect Soul) plays at defying the laws of physics. With his giant portrait of Catherine Millet as an Asian goddess, her body covered with vulvae, Blanckart points out that reality is rarely unequivocal – and that the founder of Art Press could very well become reincarnated as the heretical author of an autobiographical account of her sexual life. Things are much less complicated for Cheri Samba since, in any case, all chicks are the same (Toutes les nanas sont pareilles), a conclusion she reached at the age of forty. David Nicholson, on the contrary, ensures the extreme individualism of his models: his tiny paintings each bear the name of the woman in the portrait (Christine, Gabriela, …), and are charged with an erotic tension that is at times suggested, and at times displayed. A human skull, vanitas, completes the set in a very natural way…

While the media submerge us daily with bloody images that make up a considerable proportion of the international news, the Disasters of War engravings by Goya dating from the start of the 19th century have lost nothing of their persuasive force in denouncing the atrocities of the Napoleonic occupation. Or have they? When they acquired a full set of these eighty plates, the intention of Jake & Dinos Chapman was to “correct” them, “like in The Shining when the butler encourages Jack Nicholson to kill his family to correct the situation”, explains Jake… Victims and murderers are thus endowed with coloured clown’s heads and puppies to produce a new, tragic-comic and updated interpretation of the Disasters engraved by Goya. In a more humorous tone, Annie Sprinkle “corrects” the feminine body of art in her own way in the series 15 Sluts and Goddesses Inside Linda Montano, using a number of accoutrements.

The exhibition also pays homage to the very great talent of a young artist who died recently in a tragic way, the video-producer Jeremy Blake (1971-2007). 'Sodium Fox' (2005), produced in collaboration with poet and musician David Berman cultivates the sense of mystery inherent to all of Blakes’ productions. Based originally on the painting by Eugène Delacroix, “Freedom guiding the People”, the film presents a young striptease dancer from Los Angeles: in the eyes of the artists, she embodies the same allegorical values of confidence.

Mark Napier and John F. Simon at Digital Art Museum

Mark Napier and John F. Simon at Digital Art Museum


Mark Napier.

BERLIN, GERMANY.- A melting Empire State Building or a digital display cabinet with glowing software still life – the animations of Mark Napier and John F. Simon show in an intelligent, playful way the various possibilities of digital art.

Both artists are internationally well established representatives of software art since many years and were shown f. e. in the Whitney Museum as well as in the Guggenheim Museum in New York. They develop the programs for their art works by themselves and consider this as the basis of their artistic ideas. For both, it is the first time that their work is exhibited in a German gallery.

For Mark Napier the Empire State Building has been a reoccurring theme for a couple of years in his artistic process. As a symbol of human megalomania and aspiration to power. In his works the artist lets the computergenerated construction fall in folds, burst, erect again by separating the steal grid inside the building from the outer skin. In the virtual space steal and stone become soft and deformable materials. It is a game concerning the illusion of human power and the resemblance with the World Trade Centre is omnipresent.

Mark Napier lives and works in New York. Trained as a painter he began early to distance himself from traditional techniques, to develop his own software and to discover the Internet as a platform for art. Art Works f. e. “Riot”, which simulates a browser, are only able to show their unlimited possibilities by interactivity, through public use. Mark Napier teaches at the New York University.

John F. Simon’s “Endless Bounty” reminds us od colourful display cabinet, in which the different parts of the picture change permanently by “folding down”. The fascination is created by the mixture of the sequences – the software effects unusual combinations between photorealistic scenes such as 9/11, aesthetic organic forms looking like riverbeds and traditional ornaments like in a struggle between nature and human creation. For this screenbased piece John F. Simon also designed the frame using software and laser-cutting.

John F. Simon equally lives and works in New York. He also began early to write his own software as a form of expressing art. Glowing colours are one of the characteristics of his work. Beside his virtula artworks John F. Simon experiments with software and laser in designing interior spaces such as a carpet with a repetitive pattern similar to M. C. Escher or colourful acrylic glass designs for windows. As one of his latest projects he decorated the shop window displays of a New Yorker department store with animations.

ArtVerona07 - Modern and Contemporary and Art

ArtVerona07 - Modern and Contemporary and Art


16 Milazzo Passion, Lambda print on Dibond, 2007 Carini.

VERONA, ITALY.- With the third edition of the exhibition in Verona October 18 – 22, the autumn season for the art market in Italy begins. With the success of the first two editions, which attracted an ever growing number of visitors (more than 20,000 in 2006), ArtVerona confirms its role as one of the most important and historic exhibitions of Italian art.

Its specific mission is to showcase the wide-reaching and quality realities of Italian galleries which deal with modern and contemporary art. This panorama is present only in part in other exhibitions, and these exhibitions tend to be either local shows or ones that privilege foreign galleries.

Moreover, Italian dealers make up an extraordinarily interesting field, both culturally and economically, positioned as they are in one of the most important periods of art history, and with highly regarded Italian and international artists.
ArtVerona is dedicated to these galleries, and the exhibition is a confirmation of this guiding strategy that has been in place since the beginning.

The success of ArtVerona depends on a combination of factors: its location in Verona, a city that attracts many tourists; it takes place in October, the period which begins the autumn season for the art market the grounds of VeronaFiera are made up of large pavilions which are easy to reach the quality of the exhibitors; the wide-reaching panorama of artists and movements involved in modern and contemporary art; the special section dedicated to Outsider Art, a first in Europe for ArtVerona; related events and shows; continuous information available in specialized media both in Italy and abroad; the free catalogue to all visitors; efficient organization and wide-ranging services; the inviting atmosphere of the exhibition. All these elements are aimed at making the 2007 edition even better.

The New Consultation Committee – The Sections - True to its initial choice of privileging experts who are not directly part of the world of galleries, the members of the new Committee are: Beatrice Buscaroli, art critic and Artistic Director for the Carisbo Foundation’s History and Art Collections; Francesca Pini, responsible for art for the Corriere della Sera’s Magazine; Manuela Magliano Pellegrini, collector of modern art, Milan; Giorgio Fasol, collector of contemporary are, Verona.

They have been entrusted with the even more difficult task of selecting participating galleries, which numbered 190 last year, whereas this year the number is 170, and they are divided into three categories: Modern and Contemporary Art, Outsider Art, and Graphic Arts and Reproductions. The presence of Outsider Art is important because it is the only exhibition in Europe to display the works of these artists who are highly regarded abroad and are included in major museum collections. This year’s section even boasts important artists from outside of Italy. The Graphic Arts and Reproductions section is the only one of its type to remain at a national level and ArtVerona seeks to protect this type of lively and worthy “genre” by hosting the best galleries in Italy dealing in this area.

Confirming its role as the most important exhibition for Italian art dealers and gallery-owners of contemporary and modern art, on Thursday morning at 11:00 in the Sala Rossini (ground floor of pavilions 6/7 at the Veronafiere exhibition grounds), ArtVerona will present the Annual Report for the LCBA (Laboratory on Italian Commerce of Artistic Goods), part of Nomisma, which will present its summary of the 2006/07 season, and forecasts for 2007/2008, with a series of reflections on the market’s current state of health. A forum with very well-known experts will precede the debate between all participants.

The Rooms of Photography is a show promoted by ArtVerona in collaboration with the publication Arte which will be publishing the catalogue. An excursus of about 200 works on photography collecting, curated by Fabio Castelli, a pioneer in the genre, starts off with antique graphics and continues onto 18th century cliché-verres, passing on to art photography at a time when no market existed yet, and it then opens up into new techniques, including video. From Durer to Beecroft, this is a show with a didactic edge that aims to throw light on the art of photography, an art that has always attracted careful and passionate collectors.

Also present this year will be M.A.P.P. – the contemporary art museum that was established in the former Paoli Pini Psychiatric Hospital of Milan in 1995 with the collaboration of the ARCA ONLUS Association and the Department of Mental Health of the Niguarda Cà Granda Hospital, under the artistic direction of Marco Meneguzzo. MAPP now has a significant collection of contemporary art with 130 works of Italian and foreign artists – including P. Gilardi, E. Tadini, G. Maraniello, Buell, G. Brus, M.Disler – as well as a collection of “group” works which came out of the work that the same artists realized with patients during a special course that was organized by the Art Therapy Centre of the museum. This year’s show is called “Orizzonte alto” [“High Horizon”] which is an installation of works produced in collaboration with Davide Antolini, the Veronese artist who has been with MAPP since the year of its foundation.

The special section dedicated to Outsider Art has an even higher profile this year with the associated show in preview: Bestiary – from the Atelier of Error, curated by Daniela Rosi.

As beautiful as it is disturbing, the show presents works created in the atelier directed by the artist Luca Santiago Mora at the neuropsychiatry department for children at the local health service in Reggio Emilia.

The subjects of the works are all imaginary animals. The images are moving for their expressive and aesthetic power, and they are all the more surprising upon the knowledge that they have been drawn by children aged 7 to 14 – 18 for Down – who suffer from learning and social problems, as well as autism and other syndromes, which would seem to make it unlikely that they could express such intense creativity. And this is the problem that lies at the heart of all Outsider Art: can art be produced by people who are considered outsiders, primitives, those affected by psychic disorders, visionaries, children?

Among the other events, this is the third year for the Aletti ArtVerona Prize, sponsored by the main sponsor of the exhibition, Banca Aletti, and the prize supports young artists and the galleries who represent them. The prize, which will be awarded on Thursday, October 18, at the end of the forum on the art market, comprises the purchase of a work of art by an artist who is no older than 35, by the Banca Aletti, one of the largest private and investment banks in Italy, as chosen from those proposed by the galleries present at the exhibition. The jury is made up of personages from the world of art and culture, as well as economic and institutional representatives.

Project ICONA also continues this year, with ArtVerona’s objective of recognizing and giving visibility to exhibiting galleries, the very heart and soul of the exhibition, through the project’s acquisition of a work of art which symbolically represents the exhibition itself in its contribution of expressing the values and trends of contemporary art.
Among the 104 candidates, the selection committee – which met on July 24 and was presided over by Giorgio Cortenova, Director of the Palazzo Forte Modern Art Gallery of Verona – chose Il mio parco [“My Park”] by Diango Hernandez, as proposed by the Paolo Maria Deanesi Gallery. Like every year, the work will be on display at the entrance to the exhibition; at the end of the exhibition, the work becomes part of Palazzo Forte’s collection. The work als

Sotheby's To Sell One of the Greatest van Gogh Landscapes Remaining in Private Hands

Sotheby's To Sell One of the Greatest van Gogh Landscapes Remaining in Private Hands


Vincent van Gogh, The Fields (Wheat Fields), June-July 1890, Est. $28/35 million. © Sotheby's Images.

NEW YORK.- On the evening of November 7, 2007, Sotheby’s New York will offer for sale one of the greatest landscapes by Vincent van Gogh remaining in private hands, The Fields (Wheat Fields). Painted in June-July of 1890, in the final weeks of the artist’s life, this stunning and poignant canvas is estimated to sell for $28/35 million. Prior to its exhibition and sale in New York in November, the painting will be on view at Sotheby’s offices in Hong Kong (October 2-4) and London (October 7-12).

David Norman, Executive Vice President, a Chairman of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Department Worldwide, said, “I first saw this painting years ago when it was hanging amongst the epic late landscapes installed in the penultimate room at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The straightforward composition, with no mediating figures or structures, emanates a sense of pure joy and truthfulness that draws the viewer wholly into the scene. Before this work, one intuits that in the face of towering self-doubt and loneliness, van Gogh found salvation in the presence of nature and through the transmission of that experience with each stroke of his paint-laden brush. To quietly stand before this painting is as close as we can come to standing beside the artist himself.”

The Fields (Wheat Fields) belongs to a celebrated series of spectacular canvases painted in early July 1890. The sprawling, golden wheat field in Auvers-sur-Oise was the subject that captured the artist’s imagination during these final weeks of his life. Looking out over the rolling hills of this fragrant countryside, he set up his easel and painted the expanse of wild flowers and long sheaves rustling in the breeze. None of the turmoil that the artist was wrestling with in his inner life is evident in this glorious picture, which reads as a vibrant celebration of the richness of the land and the beauty of France.

Van Gogh’s final months were spent at the Ravoux Inn in Auvers, and the present canvas was among the works that hung in his room at the time of his death. His brother, Theo, was so moved by the picture that it was kept in the family for nearly twenty years before being sold in 1907 through the dealer Paul Cassirer in 1907. From 2001-2007, this masterwork was on loan to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, where it hung alongside a series of deeply moving and poignant landscapes painted in the final year of the artist’s life.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Contemporary Chinese Art Autumn Sale at Sotheby's

Contemporary Chinese Art Autumn Sale at Sotheby's


Yue Minjun, The Massacre at Chio. Est. HK$8–12 million. © Sotheby's Images.

HONG KONG.-Sotheby’s Hong Kong announces that the Contemporary Chinese Art Autumn Sale 2007 will be held on Sunday, 7th October 2007 at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The sale which comprises modern and contemporary sections will offer over 200 lots, estimated to bring HK$150-210 million.

Sotheby’s Hong Kong was the first international auction house to hold dedicated sales of contemporary Chinese art. Since its inaugural auction held in 2004, it has been presenting the most highly significant and important examples of this genre to the market. Ms. Evelyn Lin, Head of Contemporary Chinese Art Department, Sotheby’s China and Southeast Asia, said, “With the contemporary art market in the greater Asian diaspora experiencing continued growth, collectors have become more sophisticated, seeking works of unique historical and artistic value rather than simply newsworthy names. With this in mind, we look forward to our most exciting and largest auction yet featuring exemplary pieces by both established and younger artists.”

Contemporary Chinese Art - The sale will be highlighted by Project for Extraterrestrials No.10, Project to Extend the Great Wall of China by Cai Guo-Qiang (B. 1957) (est. HK$12-18 million). Executed in the unusual medium of gunpowder on paper, the work is made up of five pieces and is monumental in size measuring approximately 3 by 20 metres.

Of international renown, Cai Guo-Qiang work has been exhibited at the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Shanghai Art Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of art, to name but a few. He has also been commissioned to produce one of his signature installation works for the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games. In addition, the Guggenheim Museum in New York will host a retrospective exhibition of his work in 2008.

Cai first explored the properties of gunpowder in his drawings, later experimenting with explosives on a massive scale leading to the development of his signature explosion events. The present example is inspired by Cai Guo-Qiang’s largest and most important project, marking the beginning of his trajectory toward becoming an artist of overwhelming international significance.

The painting reflects and records an explosion event held in 1993 at Jiayuguan where the Great Wall ends. Realized in 2000, seven years after the event itself, the present work is a regal, museum-quality summation of the project for which its maker is perhaps best known. In addition to his epic works, in 2008 Cai will be responsible for the visual art displayed at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics Games as well as the subject of a solo retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York.

The sale also features the exceptional piece The Massacre at Chios, by Yue Minjun (B.1962) (est. HK$8–12 million). Another large-scale work, the piece is a diptych made from two large oil on canvas panels. Highly significant in contemporary art history, the work has never before been offered for sale at auction.

The painting draws inspiration from the masterpiece by the same name executed in 1824 by the French painter Eugène Delacroix, which depicts the horrors that occurred during the massacre of the Greeks by the Turks on Chios in 1821. By directly referring to the original painting, Yue Minjun’s 1994 version draws direct parallel connotations conveying a similar message but applied to contemporary Chinese modern history and culture, earning Yue his title as one of the great ‘Cynical Realists’.

The piece has been extensively published and included in pioneering international exhibitions as one of the most important paintings produced during the fledgling years of contemporary Chinese art. As an early example of a piece depicting the artist’s characteristic “self-images”, it is among the largest to come onto the market in recent years. Following the record-breaking sale of Yue Minjun’s The Pope (1997) in June 2007 at Sotheby’s London for approximately HK$33 million, Sotheby’s hopes to once again achieve record results proving the auction house’s dominant position in the field.

For Xu Bing (B. 1955), text functions simultaneously as language and as object. Nowhere is this philosophy more apparent than in his American Silkworm Series of installations begun in 1994 and on offer in this sale is one example, Silkworm Series – The Foolish Old Man Who Tried to Remove the Mountain (est. HK$3-3.5 million). Beginning that year, Xu Bing began to raise an annual crop of silkworms for use in this series.

While the series began using paper books and originally called for a long display period during which the silkworms would grow and hatch, it later evolved into another of the artist’s many freely employed idioms. The three panels of text covered in silkworm cocoons offered in the present lot were realized several years into Xu’s silkworm experiments, in 2001. In a nod to the writings of Chairman Mao that Xu Bing was then incorporating into his calligraphic works, these panels transcribe Mao’s well-known 1945 adaptation of the Chinese story about the “foolish old man who tried to move the mountain.”

Mao asks, “If the entire mass of Chinese people came together to dig up these two mountains, is there any way they could fail?” Xu Bing here presents two panels of text in which these famous words are written first forwards, then backwards. Read in reverse the words appear disconcertingly familiar, like strands in a narrative that threatens to say something but never quite manages to do so. Like so much of Xu Bing’s work, these panels challenge our relation ship to the letters, and by extension the stories, that make up our histories, memories, and lives.

Of unique art historical significance are 3 works by Zeng Fanzhi, one of the most important artists from the post-1989 generation. Zeng Fanzhi’s (B. 1964), Mask Series No. 27, (est. HK$2-3 million) is an early example from this series which marked a new stage in the artist’s development and an awakening of his contemporary social reflection.

Mask Series No.27 depicts a man dressed in a drab grey, dirty white shirt. He sits at a table in front of an open book resting his head in his enormous hand. He looks straight at the viewer with blank eyes: his expression is one of bored reflection, or semi-slumber. In his quiescent state three miniature fighter jets hurtle downward towards him each exploding in a ball of flames. Typical of the Mask series, Zeng has used a palette knife to scrape the surface flat, hiding any traces of his own brushwork. There is a sense of suspension between reality and unreality, accentuated by the flat backgrounds and the presence of the unexplainable burning fighter jets.

The mask is a common theme in Chinese art history and culture; in this instance the white mask is a colour traditionally associated with death. Much may be read into the meaning behind the Mask series in terms of metaphoric interpretation. However, Zeng’s message is less political than it is social: his focus is on the falsity of human relationships, with the mask being a satirical representation of the falsity of human interaction in the world he lives in.

Zhang Xiaogang (B. 1958) and Wang Guangyi (B. 1957), two of the most significant and best-known artists working in China today, are represented in this sale by works completed in the early years of their careers. Zhang Xiaogang’s 1989 canvas Tomorrow Will be Brighter (est. HK$5-6 million) and Wang Guangyi’s Red Rationality: Revision of the Idols (est. HK$4-6 million) are two examples of the extensive oeuvre these artists have developed over the years.

Red Rationality: Revision of the Idols, a 1987 canvas, centers a pieta among two other figural groupings, all behind a starkly haunting red grid. This painting has acquired considerable fame

Kumi Machida Named 2007 Sovereign Asian Art Prize Winner

Kumi Machida Named 2007 Sovereign Asian Art Prize Winner


Kumi Machida, A Boy and Girl.

HONG KONG.-On 21st September, Kumi Machida from Japan was named the 2007 Sovereign Asian Art Prize Winner. The prize attracted 670 entries from artists who are already well established in their own countries but want some international exposure.

Kumi’s work, A Boy and Girl, was the unanimous choice of the judges-David Elliot, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Istanbul, Bridget Tracey Tan, Director of Nanyang Fine Arts Academy in Singapore, Victoria Lu from the Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai, Pamela Kember, Art Historian and Critic from Hong Kong and Jean-Baptiste Debains, President of Louis Vuitton Asia Pacific.

Kumi Machida has won several awards in Japan and has shown in galleries throughout Tokyo and in Frankfurt and Amsterdam. Her lithographs were recently added to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

On winning the 2007 Sovereign Asian Art Prize Kumi said, “I am happy to receive this prize, which is a great honour for me. I have the fortunate opportunity for my work to be appreciated. The prize will be a big boost for my career.”

Kumi Machida was nominated by Japanese art critic, Satoru Nagoya. “When I decided to nominate Kumi for the 2007 Sovereign Asian Art Prize, I was certain that her style could evoke the deepest feelings of people of all cultural backgrounds. Few other artists today have such a command of making lines and shades which tell intricate and infinte tales of humans.

Machida’s winning the grand prize attested to my estimate. I believe that her work not only touched the hearts of jury members and audiences, but also revived artistry and elegance in contemporary art, which tends to be just crude and showy.”

Kumi Machida received US$25,000 cash prize from the Foundation.

The Schoeni Prize, decided purely by public votes went to Haris Purnomo from Indonesia for his painting, Child in Red.

Sponsors Louis Vuitton created an additional prize by inviting the 30 finalists to submit an extra work. The winner of the Louis Vuitton Prize was Hong Kong’s own, Simon Birch.

All but the winning work were auctioned during the evening at a gala dinner for 330 guests hosted by Louis Vuitton at the Four Seasons Hotel. Quek Chin Yeow from Sotheby’s conducted the auction which raised US$368,500, and included a surprise bid for a one off shirt painted that day by Simon Birch.

The Sovereign Art Foundation Chairman, Howard Bilton commented “We are very pleased to have raised a substantial sum of money to apply to our designated charities. The artists get half the money bid for their painting- as they would if they sold through a gallery- but we generally get much better prices due to the generosity of our patrons. So, the artist makes more, gets international exposure and assists good charitable causes. It is a win win situation for everyone.”

Some artists achieved record prices: Haris Purnomo’s Child in Red estimated at US$4,500 – 5,500 sold for US$30,000 and Zhao Fang’s Fist Power Series No. 9B estimated at US$10,000 – 12,000 and reached US$47,000. Full auction prices are attached.

The proceeds of the evening will benefit the Hong Kong Youth Arts Festival who will apply the funding to an arts programme working with disabled children and M’lop Tapang a community centre set up by the ADM Capital Foundation in Southern Cambodia who will use the arts to teach new skills to disadvantaged and homeless children. In short the proceeds will give a chance to those who would otherwise have none.

The Magna Carta To Be Sold By Sotheby's

The Magna Carta To Be Sold By Sotheby's


Magna Carta. © Sotheby's Images.

NEW YORK.- During the week of December 10, 2007, Sotheby’s in New York will present for sale The Magna Carta, the royal document revered as the birth certificate of freedom. This iconic manuscript, dated 1297, is the cornerstone of modern ideas of freedom and democracy. It is the most famous single document in existence. Issued by King Edward I, and sealed by the king, this astonishing survivor is one of fewer than twenty examples of the Magna Carta, and the only one ever likely to be sold. This medieval vellum manuscript is well-known to millions, having been on view with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. since arriving in America over 22 years ago. This is one of only two copies of the Magna Carta outside of England (the other belonging to the people of Australia). The document is estimated to sell for $20/30 million with the proceeds benefiting the charitable activities of The Perot Foundation.

David Redden, Vice Chairman of Sotheby’s, said, “The Magna Carta is the first rung on the ladder to freedom, followed by the great American charters of freedom - the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and The Gettysburg Address. This document symbolizes mankind’s eternal quest for freedom; it is a talisman of liberty.” is a law which is above the King and which even he must not break. This reaffirmation of a supreme law and its expression in a general charter is the great work of Magna Carta; and this alone justifies the respect in which men have held it. --Winston Churchill, 1956.

The Magna Carta, which is Latin for “Great Charter”, was initially issued in 1215 but not finally confirmed as English law until 1297, the year this Magna Carta was issued. Originally written because of disagreements between King John and the English barons about the rights of the King, the charter required the king to renounce certain rights, respect specified legal procedures and accept that his will could be bound by the law. The fundamental right enshrined in the Magna Carta is that no man is above the law. More specific, and enduring, rights stated by the Magna Carta include the right against unlawful imprisonment, the right to a speedy trial and the right to a trial by a jury of one’s peers.

No freeman shall be taken, or imprisoned…but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.”

The spirit of the Magna Carta reached far beyond England, however. The seeds of the American Revolution were sewn in the Magna Carta. Colonists from Boston to Charlestown demanded the same rights as British citizens resident in Great Britain, and when these rights were denied, the principles of the Magna Carta were cited in justification of the American rebellion by John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson and scores of other patriots. When the founding fathers searched for a precedent for asserting their rightful liberties from King George III and the English Parliament, they found it in the Magna Carta. The Magna Carta made it clear that no man, not even the king, is above the law and in 1779 John Adams evoked that sentiment when he called for: “A government of laws, and not of men.”

With each king that succeeded King John, the Magna Carta was ratified and reissued. The present Magna Carta, issued by Edward I in 1297, is the original charter confirming and ratifying the 1225 issue of the Magna Carta, and was intended for the shire of Buckingham. The present Magna Carta was documented in the possession of the Brudenell family of Deene Park, Northamptonshire since the late 14th or early 15th centuries. It is not known how the document came into the possession of the Brudenell family, but it is likely through one of two family members who were distinguished lawyers. The manuscript was purchased by the Perot Foundation directly from the Brudenell family in 1984 and immediately placed on exhibition in the rotunda of the National Archives in Washington, D.C. Together with a 1297 Magna Carta in the National Library of Australia, this is the only Magna Carta outside England.

Friday, September 21, 2007




When veteran Swiss art dealer Pierre Huber arrived in China for the first time 12 years ago, he didn’t much care for Chinese art. What a difference a decade makes. Earlier this month, Huber joined forces with former Art Basel director Lorenzo Rudolf to launch ShContemporary, Sept. 6-9, 2007, a massive art fair in the center of Shanghai. The duo hopes to make this the "number one art fair in the world in ten years" -- and their first year put them off to a good start.

It was not without its hitches, of course. With even the smallest booths running at €10,000, most Chinese galleries were priced out of the event, leading to a certain amount of local ire. In the weeks leading up to ShContemporary, the local media picked up the grumbling of several Shanghai galleries that were not invited to attend, including Bizart and Eastlink. There were even rumors of a protest or staged intervention.

Western critics who journeyed to Shanghai to take it all in have so far put the emphasis on the negatives -- incidents of censorship by customs officials and the omnipresent corporate branding, in particular. Those more familiar with the local scene will tell you that such incidents are par for the course, and not necessarily specific to ShContemporary itself. True, the participation of Hermès and Hennessey was depressingly crass -- the latter displayed a marble-encased bottle of brandy that drew more visitors than much of the art. But it’s also true that if it’s not covered in designer logos, it’s not China.

(Artists were quick to skewer the Asian lifestyle fetish. The Louis Vuitton trademark pattern was much copied at the fair, from Wim Delvoye’s branded pig skins to Mungi Yang’s Story of Stone and Luxury Products at Park Ryusook Gallery.)

In the end, Huber and Rudolf pulled off an impressive feat, bringing together 100 galleries, including 50 from Asia, all under the roof of the Shanghai Exhibition Centre, which has lavish, wedding-cake architecture that is a perfect symbol of Shanghai’s love of opulent, European-inspired grandeur. The fair lured a range of international galleries, including Albion (London), Arndt & Partner (Berlin/Zurich) Espacio Minimo (Madrid), Walsh (Chicago) and I-20, Max Lang, Max Protetch and Tilton (all New York), plus Chinese heavy-hitters like Contrasts and ShanghART. For a first-time fair in this developing country, it was well-organized and had some good work, complete with massive art installations and a polished VIP program.

Western art stars to China
As for actual sales, the presumed raison d’être of the pilgrimage to Shanghai, these seemed to be fairly rare. Even Huber and Lorenzo framed the fair’s first installment as an opportunity for long-term rather than short-term profit -- a chance to get in on the ground floor, promote artists and cultivate contacts with those Chinese collectors everyone is talking about as the future of the art market.

Some business was done, though largely with non-mainland-Chinese -- dealers mentioned Koreans and Taiwanese as buyers, along with visitors from Hong Kong. As for the locals, as one dealer put it, "a handful of Chinese collectors buy mantelpiece art" -- what might be called "safe" art from the (mainly Western) mainstream. Thus, the major European galleries did best with Andy Warhol and Jean-Michael Basquiat (though, you have to ask, would they have done better with the same material elsewhere?) alongside Asian mainstays like Yoshitomo Nara and Wang Guangyi.

Many major European galleries stuck to the classics. Galerie Enrico Navarra exhibited works by Basquiat, Pablo Picasso, Edward Ruscha and Warhol, while fellow Paris dealer Jérôme de Noirmont exhibited Jeff Koons beside Pierre et Gilles and Bettina Rheims. New York’s Max Lang also displayed works by Warhol and Basquiat, as well as Alexander Calder, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein and Yayoi Kusama. Fellow New York dealer Leo Malca also chose to exhibit Basquiat, Haring and Kusama. Galleri Faurschou joined the mix from Copenhagen with Picasso, Robert Rauschenberg and yet more Warhol.

Of the seven Shanghai galleries in attendance, Galleria Continua (which is based in San Gimignano, Italy) and Galerie Urs Meile (which was founded in Lucerne) mounted booths that looked particularly good. ShanghART, one of the first Chinese galleries to participate in Art Basel and other Western fairs, presented works from the iconic "Aesthetics of Cold War" series by the aforementioned Wang Guangyi. According to Huber, Wang is a historical figure, representing the first wave of Chinese artists who combined the all-too-similar languages of Pop and communist propaganda.

With an eye on the big picture, however, ShContemporary took steps to counter any esthetic conservativism of the Chinese market. Thus, the fair was highlighted by prominent curated sections, specifically meant to guide buyers out of that comfort zone and educate them on the art of the future.

A program dubbed "Best of Artists" dominated the main hall with adventurous installation pieces, including works by Lu Hao, Wang Du and Purification Room by the late Chen Zhen. New York-based Thai artist Rirkrit Tiravanija showed Beware Rich Bastards, a large Plexiglas box filled with rice. Visitors were encouraged to take a free tote bag and fill it with rice, gradually revealing a canvas at the back of the box, painted with the piece’s title slogan. (Unfortunately, the gallery ran out of tote bags after the opening night party, leaving the canvas still mostly obscured at the fair’s end.)

For "Best of Artists," globe-trotting Beijing artist Ai Weiwei created the haunting Mei Le, 167 pieces of coal fabricated out of fiberglass, glazed with Chinese lacquer and then stored outdoors to weather before being arranged in an evocative Stonehenge-like array on the floor -- though its effects were muted by the antiseptic convention-center surroundings. Gu Dexin -- a longtime friend of Huber, who can take credit for introducing him to Chinese art 15 years ago -- was featured outside in the exhibition center’s courtyard with September 2nd 2006, an installation incorporating a backhoe and a heap of apples, which filled the air with the cidery smell of rotting fruit -- the odor of a more dynamic art scene fermenting, perhaps.

Looking to place the present as part of a historical trajectory -- hopefully an upward one -- Huber intentionally situated "Best of Artist" participants Zhang Peili and Chen Shaoxiong across from each other on either side of a wide aisle. "All the video in China starts with [Zhang Peili]," Huber explained, while Chen Shaoxing is his worthy contemporary successor. For the fair, Chen Shaoxing documented his memories of a trip from Shanghai to Beijing as a series of careful pen and ink drawings that were then matched with captions in a video montage of everyday scenes and various ruminations on life. Across the corridor from this silent series, Zhang Peili’s boisterous Happiness echoed around the exhibition space. On each of two television monitors, a group of schoolgirls is seen doing calisthenics, one group sped-up and one slowed down. Above the monitors hangs a pair of red and white track jackets typically worn as school uniforms in China.

Three nominees in this "Best of Artist" show were from India -- Zarina Hashmi, Sudarshan Shetty and Jitish Kallat -- again marking a drive to break free of parochialism. Unknown to the international community only a year ago, Kallat is now a major name in Indian art and a recent participant in the 2007 Venice Biennale. The Rickshaw, specially commissioned for ShContemporary, is an auto-rickshaw fashioned out of fiberglass dinosaur bones, a striking meditation on violence, extinction and decay. The Rickshaw was sold as an edition of three pieces, one of which had already been snapped up by the second day of the fair.

But 70-year-old Mumbai artist Zarina Hashmi stole the show with Homemade/A Life in Nine Lines, her series of minimalist designs based on housing blueprints stripped to resemble a series of esoteric symbols. Huber referred to Hashmi as "my philosophy for the future of this fair," one of the most talented artists living in India today, whom he took credit for discovering two years ago. From relative obscurity, Hashmi has become a hot item -- she was the first Indian artist to have work installed at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and one of her pieces was just purchased by the Museum of Modern Art.

Marketing young Asian artists
Upstairs in the exhibition center, the space was more intimate and less ornate -- an appropriate venue for ShContemporary’s "Best of Discovery" series, a collection of (mostly) young artists being introduced to the Chinese buying public for the first time, directly trying to jumpstart a market for emerging artists. Taiwanese artist Tu Weizheng followed his strong showing at this year’s Shanghai Biennale with an equally impressive booth at ShContemporary. His fake archaeological discovery mock-up, Bunam Civilization, was constrained by the art fair space, but still Tu profited from ShContemporary -- during the course of the fair, he was picked up by a Taiwanese gallery thanks to the fair’s exposure, as were several other "Discovery" artists.

Chinese and Indian artists were out in force, including the photo manipulations of Chen Ching-yao; Jiang Zhi’s evocative "I’m your poetry" series; and Shilpa Gupta’s untitled interactive video installation. Sharmila Samant recreated a traditional Calcutta saree from hundreds of soda bottle caps fastened by hand -- a commentary on cheap labor, local crafts and disposable culture. Samant had made only one saree by the time of the fair, but the artist plans on creating a total of 20 such works from Coke and Fanta bottle caps.

While Chinese, Japanese and Indian artists continue to dominate the Asian scene, both Korea and Pakistan made impressive showings, with promising artists including Ham Jin, Rashid Rana, Mohammed Ali Talpur and Sophie Ernst. Talpur and Ernst are both represented by Green Cardamom gallery in London. Ernst’s video installation Dying Gauls projects the images of men from the streets of Lahore talking about their conception of the afterlife on plaster replicas of the famous "Dying Gaul" busts, a smart association of ancient and contemporary, east and west.

Russia-born artist Aleksandr Schumov was spotlighted with Supremus Ehegraben, a narrow corridor installation filled with an assortment of the artist’s photographs and personal bric-a-brac, creating an intimate, cluttered, lived-in space somewhere between a dorm room and a shrine. The result was a well-received antidote to much of the fair’s slick, hyper-designed sensibility, perhaps fueling Rudolf’s prediction that Russian and Eastern European art would have an increasingly large role in the fair’s future.

Glamour at commercial galleries
Compared to these polished curatorial interventions, the floor of galleries was something of a grab bag, a motley collection of tried-and-true classics and high-risk ventures. James Cohan Gallery pulled out all the stops with its show-stopping video installation From Neander Valley to Silicon Valley by Nam Jun Paik.

A few galleries went farther afield, displaying work by a variety of western and eastern artist. Osaka’s MEM showcased the photography of Tomoko Sawada while OTA Fine Arts from Tokyo presented Tsuyoshi Ozawa’s eye-catching "Vegetable Weapon" series. New York dealer Thomas Erben showed the comic book stylings of Chitra Ganesh. Gallerie Frèches presented Xiang Liqing’s untitled architectural series, while Charlotte Moser boasted works by Yan Pei-Ming, including the moody dream space Paysage International-Lieu du crime. Shanghai’s two-year-old Shine Art Space showed work by notable Chinese artists Shen Xiaotong and Feng Zhengjie.

Rival Chinese art capital Beijing presented entries from Chinese Contemporary and Chi-Wen Gallery. Tang Contemporary captured the crowd’s attention with Jin Zhongwei’s Manufacturing of Surgical Instruments of Ophthalmology, an installation and performance piece featuring live workers hand-crafting optical equipment beside life-like dummies. Hong Kong’s 10 Chancery Lane raised the bar with a stall full of compelling pieces, including work by Huang Rui, Li Wei and entries from Cang Xin’s "Identity Exchange" series, documenting the artist exchanging uniforms with a policeman, a doctor and an opera singer.

Smaller galleries also found an audience, notably the Indonesian Langgeng Gallery, home to the artists Harnis Purnama, F. X. Harsono and Srihadi Soedarsono. Indian galleries made a strong showing at the fair, including Bodhi Art, Sakshi and Gallery Chermould.

Overall, while somewhat sequestered from the Shanghai population at large, and still finding its legs, the mere fact that ShContemporary managed to pull off a professional-level art fair is still another sign that the world art trade is moving east. Huber even anticipates forming a kind of collectors’ club with an office in Shanghai to scout out new talent and make purchases.

"In Europe and the U.S., it used to be that with three galleries from Asia you could say you were a global fair," Rudolf joked. Now, Asian artists have market centers in their own countries, suggesting that artists from China, India and elsewhere can look forward to escaping the role of token Asian elsewhere.

"There is no Chinese art and Indian art and Japanese art, any more than there is French art or German art or American art." Rudolf soothed. "There is only good art and bad art."

Dr. Stanley Ho Donates Bronze Horse Head to China

Dr. Stanley Ho Donates Bronze Horse Head to China


Dr. Stanley Ho with the Bronze. Credit: Virgile Simon Bertrand. © Sotheby's Images.

HONG KONG.-Sotheby's Hong Kong is pleased to announce that Dr. Stanley Ho, Standing Committee Member of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, has decided to donate the Bronze Horse Head of Haiyantang in the Yuanmingyuan (or Summer Palace) to China upon his purchase of the piece in a sale brokered by Sotheby’s for HK$69.1 million (£4.42 million, US$8.84 million). The Bronze was originally scheduled to be auctioned in Hong Kong in October, but given Dr. Ho’s good intentions to donate this rare and magnificent Chinese imperial piece to China, the Bronze was sold to Dr. Ho under an agreement with the consignor through Sotheby’s Hong Kong. The purchase has set a world record price for any Chinese Qing sculpture.

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage of the People's Republic of China commented, “We are glad to witness the home-coming of the Bronze Horse Head after its expatriation for nearly one and a half centuries. We highly commend and are grateful for Dr. Ho’s patriotic act and appreciate Sotheby's Hong Kong's for its efforts in making this possible.”

Dr. Stanley Ho said, “I am very honoured to be able to participate in the recovery program of China’s lost cultural relics by donating the Bronze Horse Head to China, following my donation of the Boar Head to our country in 2003. I hope this will help encourage more people to join efforts in preserving China’s cultural relics and nurture patriotic feelings.” To fulfill Dr. Ho’s wish of enabling more people to appreciate this national treasure, the Bronze Horse Head will be exhibited to the public from 4th to 8th October at the Sotheby's Hong Kong Autumn Sales 2007 Preview held in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, and be subsequently displayed at Hotel Grand Lisboa in Macau from 9th October onwards.

Mr. Kevin Ching, Chief Executive Officer of Sotheby's Asia, said, “Sotheby’s Hong Kong is proud to have concluded this sale. The home-coming of the spectacular Bronze Horse Head is most exciting and its patriotic donation by Dr. Ho to China commands great admiration. With our unparalleled expertise and our strong client base, Sotheby’s Hong Kong will continue to be a leading international platform for the collection of pre-eminent works of art.”

Art Cologne Palma de Mallorca Debuts

Art Cologne Palma de Mallorca Debuts


Eduardo Arroyo: Anónimo en España al revés, 2006. Öl auf Leinwand.146 x 140 cm. Galerie: Alvaro Alcazar.

PALMA DE MALLORCA, SPAIN.-The Art Cologne Palma de Mallorca will celebrate its debut in the former Terminal A of the Son Sant Joan airport from 19 to 23 September 2007. This gala event will be a special challenge not only for its organizer, Koelnmesse, but also for its partner in this project, the district administration of the Balearic Islands. The 55 galleries from 14 countries that will be exhibiting at the premiere of the art fair are also busily making their preparations. They've put together an impressive programme that includes some big names and plenty of surprises.

The list of artists whose works will be shown at the ART COLOGNE Palma de Mallorca is international and prestigious. For example, classical modernism will be represented by names such as Max Ernst, Georg Grosz, Erich Heckel, Karl Hofer, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Fernand Léger, André Masson, Emil Nolde and Pablo Picasso. Galerie Hachmeister from Münster will show "La Femme au Livre" (Woman Reading) (1935) and "Boîte à allumettes" (Matchbox) (1963), two works by the French architect Le Corbusier, whose paintings are rarities on the Spanish art market. Henze & Ketterer, from Bern and Basel, is coming to Palma with several oil paintings by George Grosz, including "A Summer Day" from 1940. The Spanish gallery Barbié from Barcelona will focus on the Spanish and German avant-garde of the postwar period and display works by Antoni Tàpies and Willy Baumeister.

A wide selection of well-established and up-and-coming contemporary art will also be on show at the ART COLOGNE Palma de Mallorca, with works by Miquel Barceló, Joseph Beuys, Eduardo Chillida, Tony Cragg, Günther Förg, Douglas Gordon, Damien Hirst, Jörg Immendorff, Anselm Kiefer, Imi Knöbel, Jannis Kounellis, Robert Mapplethorpe, Julian Opie, Nam June Paik, Sigmar Polke, Gerhard Richter, Dieter Roth, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Manolo Valdés, Franz West, Erwin Wurm and many more. Die Galerie (Frankfurt/Main) will be focusing on the experimental group COBRA, as represented by the artists Karel Appel, Pierre Alechinsky, Corneille and Lucebert. Benden & Klimczak (Cologne/Viersen) will offer Pop Art works, including collages by Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein as well as large works in steel by Tom Wesselmann. "We're coming to the ART COLOGNE Palma de Mallorca in order to make new contacts, and we've put together a wonderful selection of works for this premiere," says Rainer Klimczak. Jule Kewenig is also promising visitors a unique experience, thanks to the young artists Sandra Vásquez and Marcelo Viquez, whom she persuaded to carry out a joint project specially for the ART COLOGNE Palma de Mallorca. The precise details of the project are still a secret, but the gallery owner has divulged a few tantalizing facts. "The stand will reflect Marcelo Viquez's brash and freewheeling nature, by contrast to the mystical, almost fairytale drawings of Sandra Vázquez, an artist who identifies herself very strongly with the mythology and hidden truths of the world," says Kewenig. The Ruczicska gallery from Salzburg will be showing light installations by Brigitte Kowanz, such as the neon creation "More Light" from 2007.

Sculpture has long been an underprivileged category on the art market, but that status is now a thing of the past. Visitors interested in sculpture will be able to find many fascinating works at the ART COLOGNE Palma de Mallorca. In addition to the sculpture project displayed in the airport and throughout the city - with works by Manal Mahamid, Marcelo Viquez, Miquel Navarro, Bruno Gironcoli, Robert Schad, Martín y Sicilia, Sebastian Romo, Thomas Möcker, Bernar Venet, Jörg Immendorff and Franz West - numerous gallery owners will be displaying sculptures in the exhibition halls. For example, the Samuelis Baumgarte gallery from Bielefeld will be showcasing several rubber sculptures by Tom Lange and large-format works by Heinz Mack from the years 1993 to 1995. The Altair gallery from Palma de Mallorca will be showing several works by Anthony Caro, and Lars Bohman from Stockholm will present wood sculptures created in 2007 by Stephan Balkenhol. The Löhrl gallery from Mönchengladbach will also display works by this German sculptor as well as by the artist Thomas Virnich, who spends some of his time in Soler and creates works of art using found objects and items from everyday life. The Austrian gallery Mario Mauroner, located in Vienna and Salzburg, will be showing works by Fabrizio Plessi, who is known as the "sculptor of video technology". And the Portuguese gallery Mário Sequeira from Braga will feature the steel sculptures "Lemure" (2005) and "Mercury" (2004) by Franz West, who will also be represented by the Elisabeth and Klaus Thoman gallery from Innsbruck.

Top-calibre photography will also be strongly represented at the ART COLOGNE Palma de Mallorca. The works on display in the former Terminal A of the Son Sant Joan airport are by some of the top names among internationally renowned photographers. Among the undisputed masters of the art are Robert Mapplethorpe, whose works will be shown by Röpke from Cologne/Madrid, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Eisenstaedt and Man Ray, who will be featured by Johannes Faber from Vienna. To give just two examples, Johannes Faber will be showing two classic photographic portraits, "Valeska Gert" and "Kiki de Montparnasse". Mario Sequeira will be presenting works by the Becher apprentice Axel Hütte. Other photographers whose works are in high demand on the art market include Michael Wesely, who is represented by Fahnemann Projects, and the architecture photographer Boris Becker, represented by the Holtmann gallery from Cologne.

As was to be expected, Spanish artists will be strongly represented at the ART COLOGNE Palma de Mallorca, especially because their works are also sold by galleries based in countries outside Spain. Visitors can look forward to seeing works by the Spanish artists Diario Alvarez Basso, Amador, Eduardo Arroyo, Miguel Barceló, Miguel Berrocal, Carmen Calvo, Rafael Canogar, Eduardo Chillida, José Cobo, Salvador Dalí, Gabriel Diaz, Susy Gomez, Luis Gordillo, Pep Guerrero, Fernando Guijar, Victor Mira, Joan Miró, Miquel Mont, Guillem Nadal, Miquel Navarro, Dina Perelló, Pablo Picasso, Joan Hernandez Pijuan, Jaume Plensa, Ana Louísa Ribeiro, Bernardi Roig, Julio Rondo, Oscar Seco, Santiago Serrano, Ferran Garcia Sevilla, José-Maria Sicilia, Susana Solano, Antoni Tàpies, Juan Uslé and Manolo Valdés.

The Van Gogh Museum Presents Barcelona 1900 - The Creation of a Modern City

The Van Gogh Museum Presents Barcelona 1900 - The Creation of a Modern City


Santiago Rusiñol (1861-1931), Morphine, 1894, Museu Cau Ferrat (Consorcio del Patrimonio de Sitges).

AMSTERDAM.- Barcelona 1900. The creation of a modern city on show at the Van Gogh Museum. This autumn the Van Gogh Museum presents a landmark exhibition Barcelona 1900 which will celebrate the astonishing transformation of this vibrant city between 1880 and 1909. In this period Barcelona underwent an impressive architectural development and flourished socially and artistically. The exhibition, on view from 21 September 2007 to 20 January 2008, will provide an insight into a city which continues to intrigue visitors and inspire artists and architects to this day. Barcelona 1900 takes the visitor on a tour of the significant places in the city from the Ramblas via the Palau de la Música Catalana and the Hospital de Sant Pau on to Gaudí’s Park Güell and the church of the Sagrada Familia. Some 200 works of art including paintings, drawings and sculpture and also furniture, jewellery, scale models, films, stage scenery and tile panels reveal the remarkable breadth of artistic creation. All the leading artists of that period - Pablo Picasso, Isidre Nonell, Santiago Rusiñol, Alexandre de Riquer and Ramon Casas - as well as the architects - Antoni Gaudí, Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch - whose legacy is still so powerful, are represented often by works that are rarely on view to the public.

The world expo of 1888 and the birth of Modernista Catalana - The rise of industry in and around the city generated an increasingly wealthy bourgeoisie who, in turn, commissioned artists and architects. The resulting extraordinary artistic boom fostered a climate in which artists were emboldened to strike out in a new direction encouraged by the success of the Exposicío Universal in 1888 that brought the isolated city of Barcelona into contact with the modern world. Young artists travelled to Paris and as a result of the inspiration and knowledge garnered there Barcelona gave birth to its own version of Art Nouveau, known as Modernista Catalana. Typical of this style are the representations and objects characterised by elegant forms and imaginative figures.

Visual and applied arts - In painting, a new style was evident in a subtle play of lines and the use of sparkling colours. The exhibition will feature paintings by many of the leading artists of this period, including a series of 12 portraits on paper by the young Picasso of himself and his artist friends. This series has been reunited especially for this exhibition, with international loans from New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museu Picasso in Barcelona. Also on show are cityscapes by Picasso as well as paintings offering a striking rendition of the bohemian atmosphere in the Els Quatre Gats artists’café. However, the new elegance of Modernista Catalana was particularly evident in the applied arts, striking examples of which will feature in the exhibition, such as a complete interior by designer Joan Busquets, bewitchingly beautiful jewellery by Lluís Masriera and extravagant pieces of furniture designed by Antoni Gaudí.

Architecture and urban development - In architecture, the influence of Modernista Catalana was evident in its combination of new materials with the Catalan tradition, such as wrought iron, mosaic tableaux and ceramics. It is the fantastical architecture of Antoni Gaudí, Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalch that has contributed to the city’s fame and its magical feel. Engineer Ildefons Cerdà’s urban expansion of Barcelona is widely considered to be one of the most visionary architectural innovations of the 19th century and is still viewed as an important example to modern architects and city planners.

Street life - The exhibition also sheds light on the other side of Barcelona’s economic prosperity. Industrialisation lured people to the city to work in the factories, where their poor living conditions served as a breeding ground for socialist and anarchist movements. The social unrest led, among other things, to a bomb attack on the Teatre de Liceu - symbol of the bourgeoisie - and to the Setmana Tràgica in 1909, a massive popular uprising against church and state. The exhibition shows the grim yet often picturesque reality of life on the streets through photographs and films of the time and through, occasionally humorous, drawings and paintings.

Catalogue: The Barcelona 1900 exhibition catalogue, edited by guest curator Teresa-M. Sala (Professor Titular d’Universitat de Barcelona), will be available in English and Dutch: Van Gogh Museum/ Mercatorfonds, 196 pages, 160 illustrations. Price € 29.95 (paperback). The book will also be available in French, Spanish and Catalonian. Price € 39.95 (hardback). Available in the museum shop, via and quality bookshops.

Visitors' guide - Accompanying the Barcelona 1900 exhibition is a free booklet (available in English and Dutch). This travel guide leads the visitor through the exhibition. A combined audiotour is available for both the exhibition and the permanent collection in English, Dutch, French and Spanish. Price € 4. Every Saturday and Sunday there is a variety of workshops for children. For more information, visit

Friday nights - On Friday nights the Van Gogh Museum stays open to 10 pm. During the Barcelona 1900 exhibition the Friday nights will focus on Barcelona today with a multifaceted programme featuring design, architecture, literature, Barcelona's artistic food culture, lots of music and much more besides. For more information, see

Rabobank is sponsor of Barcelona 1900. This sponsorship is the result of a long-term collaboration between Rabobank and the Van Gogh Museum.

Barcelona 1900 is the first major exhibition about this city in the period 1880-1909 and is the fourth in the series covering cities around this pivotal year staged at the Van Gogh Museum. The previous exhibitions were Glasgow 1900: Art & Design (1992-1993), Vienna 1900: Portrait and Interior (1997) and Prague 1900: Poetry and Ecstasy (1999-2000).