West threw an impromptu listening party for his new album Wednesday during Art Basel. Isabel Wilkinson reports.Isabel Wilkinson/The Daily Beast
Her ancestors were swordsmiths, and now she’s performing alchemy by turning metal into art.
Move over, Man of Steel. There’s a new superhero in the city. Miya Ando is disarmingly petite; wears all black, goggles, and steel-toed boots; and spends seven days a week sawing, sanding, lacquering, and dunking metals in acid. Her ancestors were swordsmiths. Her mission? To embrace the alchemy of metal. To manipulate steel and aluminum into forms beyond recognition. To create deceptively simple postminimalist art.
It’s the weekend before her first solo exhibition opens at New York’s Sundaram Tagore Gallery on June 20—a major turning point in any emerging artist’s career. Yet Ando, who’s in her 30s, remains unruffled. She’s working in her studio, a mad scientist’s dream on the water in Brooklyn’s DUMBO neighborhood. Eight-foot-long sheets of aluminum line the walls, and instruments are strewn everywhere: saws, torches, and a collection of tools with pink handles.
Ando’s technique of anodizing and dyeing results in abstract metal paintings that reflect and play with light. Here, 'Meditation Blue.' (Martin Rigby/Courtesy Miya Ando)
“Just because I work with metal doesn’t make me an ogre,” Ando says. She’s packing her very heavy metal paintings—anodized and dyed aluminum and steel, really—for the show, for which she has even created a mini diorama of the gallery.
For developer Robbie Antonio.
And the definition of a vanity project is? Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas (CCTV Building, Seattle Central Library and Casa da Música) is taking on his first residential commission in 15 years for developer and art collector Robbie Antonio in the Philippines. The house, which is expected to cost $15 million (compared to the average annual Filippino income of $4,998, points out Vanity Fair), will house his extensive art collection consisting of the likes of Koons, Hirst and Bacon and reportedly resembles the Whitney. Concurrently, Antonio is commissioning $3 million worth of self-portraits from artists like David Salle and Marilyn Minter.
The Daily Pic: Arlene Shechet reveals the inner workings of Meissen.
The sculptor Arlene Shechet, who was showing this piece of hers at the Sikkema Jenkins booth at Art Basel, once told me that she started working in ceramics almost by accident. It seems she was never a classic art-school mud bunny, obsessed with clay and the potter’s wheel. With her latest project, however, executed during a residency at the great Meissen clayworks in Germany, Shechet may have to buy herself some mud-bunny ears, after all. This fascinating porcelain piece, titled “Mold of the Mold #29694 Pushed”, was cast from the exterior of one of the ancient molds that Meissen still uses to make precious objets, and then was painted by a master in the mode of such treasures. Riffing on the venerable blue-and-white tradition has become something of a trend on clay’s cutting edge (see my posting on Robert Dawson). Shechet adds to it smartly. To go a bit Greenbergian here, I think clay’s at its best when it talks about clay – or at least when it knows its history.
The Daily Pic: David Horvitz shows sunset and sunrise from opposite points on the globe.
These two iPhones are all there is to “The Distance of a Day”, an installation by the young Brooklyner David Horvitz that I just saw at the Art Basel fair, in the booth of Berlin’s Chert gallery. Last February, Horvitz got his mom to record a video of the sunset over the sea near Los Angeles, where he was born and grew up. At the same moment that she was taping, he was at a point almost opposite her on the globe, in the Maldives, taping the same sun as it rose. There was something poignant for me in imagining our great sun as a tenuous link between mother and son. There was also a kind of almost scientific rigor in the piece, as it demonstrated a basic truth of astronomy. And, of course, it was also about virtuality: A deeply physical project that involves two people and the places they’re in comes to us care of an ephemeral digital record – in fact presented on the very phones that recorded the scenes.
A group of unseen watercolor fruit studies by Salvador Dalí are going to be auctioned on June 18 at Bonham's in London.
Kept in a bank vault for decades, a group of paintings by surrealist Salvador Dalí are now up for auction and valued at between £40,000—70,000 each.
The paintings were commissioned in 1969, and capture Dalí's desire to upset what was seen as normal or the standard in everyday life. In these paintings, expected to make close to £1 million collectively, Dalí takes the ubiquitous 19th century lithographs of fruits and exposes them to the subconscious, morphing them into fantastical and meticulously detailed paintings.
Erotic Grapefruit, Wild Blackberries and Raspberry Bush (Bonhams)
According to William O'Reilly, the Director of Impressionist and Modern Art at Bonhams, these paintings are significant because they "give us an insight into his process ... you can almost see him approching traditional images and growing from that."
Most of all, the paintings are fun, and after seeing what Dalí did to 19th century paintings of fruit, we would love to find an app the takes any work of art and churns out what Dalí's subconsious would have done to it.
The Daily Pic (Venice Biennale Edition): The Chinese dissident sculpts his own (six) Stations of the Cross.
(Photo by Lucy Hogg)
As my last Venice image, I give you one of the dioramas from Ai Weiwei’s new Biennale project, which he was not permitted to see installed. Six metal shipping containers, looking like huge minimal sculptures made of Cor-Ten steel, contain waxworks scenes based on Ai’s memories of his jailing by Chinese authorities in 2011. Each one is sculpted at half of life size, and can be viewed through a porthole in the container’s side and its top. This view from on high shows Ai showering as his inquisitors look on, as they did whenever he did anything, however intimate. It’s important that Ai keep making art about his plight, and the plight of the other persecutees of China. There was, however, something just a touch in bad taste in his taking on a martyr’s role (the piece is called S.A.C.R.E.D., an acronym for the titles of the dioramas: Supper, Accusers, Cleansing, Ritual, Entropy, Doubt). After all, he still commands the resources to have such posh objets manufactured, to have them shipped to Venice and then to have them installed … in a Baroque church no less. Is he trying to pass, camel-like, through the eye of a needle? We must remember, and he must remind us, that he stands for the plight of others who fare much, much worse.
Weirdly, I had a feeling that Ai’s tongue might be in his cheek with this piece – as it usually is.
MySpace has hired the famed indie photographer to direct a commercial celebrating its relaunch. But the campaign has more to do with being a hipster than the actual Internet itself.
Trying to accomplish what’s seemingly impossible, MySpace is gunning for a reboot—one that now boasts Justin Timberlake as minority owner. And as a ploy to lure back the millions of millennials (who in the last 10 years have decamped for Facebook’s less primitive pasture—one that now treads on privacy invasion), MySpace has tapped hipster poster boy and photographer Ryan McGinley to create a campaign celebrating its relaunch, which debuted on Tuesday.
If hiring McGinley (a photographer best known for taking nude portraits of severely underage-looking legals) weren’t enough evidence that MySpace is trying very hard to regain its “cool” quotient, then look at the roster of negligibly underground faces that join him in the commercial. Pharrell Williams, model Erin Wasson, beauty blogger Emily Weiss, singer Sky Ferreira, Ciara, and others bop and hula-hoop to The Orwells’s “Mallrats (La La La)” with mussed-up hair and cans of spray paint, wearing overalls and Saint Laurent stilettos, while doing little more than boasting their status as indie stars.
Most conspicuously, "This is Myspace," as the commercial is titled, features very little technology. There is only one cellphone sighting—one that doesn’t even involve connecting to the Internet. Actually, the Internet is not included in the commercial at all, effectively doing little to explain what the new MySpace is about. But that may be the point—to try and get the Internet-savvy to ultimately sign up and see what the new site is about for themselves.
Celebrities are the new makers and breakers of the market. But are they patrons of the creative classes or just looking for a good investment?
First there were artists. Then there were patrons—rich people with enough good taste that they enabled artists to live and make their art. Eventually, patrons made room for speculators, fake collectors who reap great sums by tinkering with expensive artists’ prices. But in the days of art as an asset (think luxury yachts, but also gold bullion and Apple Inc. stock) few collectors are as prized as a bona fide celebrity. Rare birds with pterodactyl-size tastes, their penchant for opulence, public display, and immediate gratification make them the ideal marks for today’s wheeling-and-dealing art galleries and auction houses. And then, of course, there’s also our 21st-century, celebrity-ravenous, hair-trigger media.
The infamous Bea Arthur portrait just sold for $1.9 million. (John Currin/Christie's Images Ltd. 2013)
In late May that hunger had its True Blood incisors out at Christie’s sale of a beloved if bizarre 20th-century American gem: Bea Arthur Nude, a topless 1991 portrait of the late Golden Girls actress fashioned by 51-year-old American painter John Currin. Sold for $1.9 million on the same bullish evening that saw the auction house rake in a record $495 million, it garnered far more Gawker and gossip traffic than the auction’s $56.1 million Lichtenstein or $58.4 million Pollock canvases. The reason? In a phrase: the crack epidemic–like qualities of the global fame game. To paraphrase the tagline from the Twilight saga—when groupies live online forever, what do you really live for?
Driven not by the painting’s quality, it’s astronomical price, or the fact that Currin was a broke house painter when he brushed a starlet’s boobs onto Arthur’s body, the event nevertheless escalated from B-list celebrity Twitter twaddle into an international Internet sensation. It started when comedian Jeff Ross posted a photo of himself standing next to the Arthur painting (or a very good likeness of it) with the tweet “Biggest surprise of my life. Thank you @jimmykimmel—the most generous guy in the world!,” Kimmel was subsequently thought to be unmasked as the painting’s mystery spendthrift. That is until Kimmel himself chimed in to deny purchasing Currin’s painting in the first place: “Contrary to ‘news’ reports, I didn’t buy the Bea Arthur painting—not even for @realjeffreyross—but I did buy the Mona Lisa Lampanelli.”
The Daily Pic (Venice Biennale Edition): Rudolf Stingel points Venice back toward its Eastern roots.
At Francois Pinault’s Palazzo Grassi museum, Rudolf Stingel has covered every inch of every floor and wall of its palatial spaces with industrial wall-to-wall printed with blow-ups of classic Eastern carpets. Yes, it’s a one liner, but it’s loud enough to be impressive, and its Islamic accent gives it special leverage, in Europe and the world now, as well as in a city that once made its money (and culture) from ties to the East. Once upon a time, no self-respecting Venetian altar went without a carpet like these ones.
The Daily Pic (Venice Biennale Edition): The Prada Foundation shows how Richard Serra's heavy metals once seemed vanishingly conceptual.
This is at least the third time I have Pic’d the early works of Richard Serra, because I find such evident pleasure in looking at them. This installation, however, shows that this was not always how they came across. The photo was taken at a fascinating show now at The Prada Foundation in Venice, whose ancient palazzo has been mashed-up with an inch-by-inch recreation of “When Attitudes Become Form”, the great 1969 exhibition at the Kunsthalle in Berne, which first brought conceptual art into focus. What comes across most strongly in the Venice revisitation, however, is how much more present the “forms” now seem than the “attitudes” that shaped them – with these Serras as a classic example of how object-heavy this conceptual show really was. Period works that now seem all about their aesthetics, that is, once felt entirely about the ideas behind them, since their visuals had yet to gel in our minds as art. Here’s my bet: That that’s true of a huge number of Old Master objects as well. They once would have seemed full of attitude, couched in almost illegible forms.
With a brilliant art collection and lush grounds, The Hillwood Estate is a must-visit any time of year. But now, visitors can also sneak a peek into the life of its richest owner.
Always dreamt of visiting a European estate but can’t afford the flight? For Americans, there’s a solution closer to home.
The Hillwood Estate and its new exhibition Living Artfully: at Home with Marjorie Merriweather Post, gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at how the insanely wealthy lived in the Mad Men era.
Clockwise from left: Marjorie Merriweather Post & Daughter Dina Merrill,The Japanese Garden, Hillwood Estate (Hillwood Museum & Gardens)
Nestled within the leafy confines of Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park, the estate was the home of Post, the heiress to the substantial Post Cereals fortune which made her the richest woman in the world during her lifetime. She was an avid collector, and the range of art and precious objects she left behind at Hillwood is sure to whet the appetite of every sort of tourist, from those interested in Imperial Russian art and French porcelain, to those who want to see her fine jewelry collection and walk the Japanese gardens.
Three Portuguese friends decided to quit their jobs and take off in an RV for Europe's major cities, finding and documenting the best street artists along the way. Nina Strochlic on Hello Europe's mission.
Troubadours strumming their guitars on street corners. Breakdancers flipping around subway poles. Magicians pulling reluctant passersby into their juggling tricks. Whether viewed as an earsore or a vibrant addition to urban life, street entertainers have been a constant presence in major cities all over the world. And, as all metropolis dwellers know, they run the full gamut of talent. But every once in awhile you stumble across buskers who are so incredible you wonder why they’re on a street corner and not headlining a world tour.
A street musician plays the violin in downtown Rome. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty)
In Portugal, a group of three friends are preparing to set out on a 100-day, 20-country, social-media fueled search to discover the best of the best of these largely unknown street artists. The project, called “Hello Europe,” was started last summer, when friends Guilherme Duarte, Ivo Tavares, and João Mendes decided they had grown tired of their day jobs (as a software engineer, chef, and product designer, respectively). “I really started to feel an urge to change my life, to try other things and find my way,” the 28-year-old Duarte says. “We started thinking about what would make us happy.”
The three decided they wanted to create a project that would give them an opportunity to travel. While brainstorming, they realized each had spent a good chunk of time photographing and videoing street artists. A few years before, Duarte remembers, he and Tavares watched a performer in Amsterdam climb a lamppost while juggling a soccer ball, and the group ended up playing a pick-up match on the street. It was a moment they always remembered, and it contributed to their decision to focus the project on promoting Europe’s most talented street artists, who generally receive little recognition. “We see life with the same eyes,” Duarte says of his co-founders.
The Daily Pic (Venice Biennale Edition): Mathias Poledna uses Dumbo-era craft to score current points.
This is a moment from "The Imitation of Life", Mathias Poledna's projection in the Austrian pavilion of the Biennale gardens. It's a three-minute animation of a singing donkey in a sailor suit goofing around in nature, done in the most traditional Disney style and screened on classic 35mm film. It could absolutely pass for a pre-feature short from the 1930s, although all its characters are newly conceived by Poledna and its cels were drawn and painted in 21st-century Hollywood. That makes the piece a strange hybrid, sitting somewhere between appropriation and nostalgic craft. Or maybe it's a kind of remade readymade, and gets its power from using Disney as "serious" contemporary art. Among other things, its endless scroll of credits makes you realize how few resources are normally poured into fine art, compared to even a minor animation.
The donkey sings the phrase "I've got a feelin' you're foolin' with me", which makes me think he stands for all of us watching the work – or at least for all jackass critics.
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