15 April 2016

Oscar Murillo and the passport!


Oscar Murillo CreditGerard Julien/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images 

Was it art, protest — or both?
It’s still not entirely clear just what the Colombian artist Oscar Murillo was thinking last month when he flushed his British passport down a toilet, midflight to Sydney, as he headed toward an art biennale there.
Instead, he was detained for two days in Sydney — after which he was deported to Singapore and eventually returned to Britain. (Mr. Murillo also holds a Colombian passport.) On Monday, these events were confirmed by his gallery, David Zwirner. Now the artist is being asked to explain them.
On Tuesday in London, Mr. Murillo released a statement through Zwirner to The New York Times and acknowledged that he had not originally intended to stage a protest but that his action had become one. “Destroying my passport was a way of challenging the conditions in which I have the privilege of moving through the world, as a citizen,” he said in his statement. “The act creates a disruptive situation that has the real potential to engage different power structures in a complex society — my status as an artist, the state as an arbiter, and the question of mobility in general.”
According to ArtNews, Mr. Murillo decided four hours before landing in Sydney that the work he was taking to the Biennale of Sydney was not sufficient and destroyed the documentation that would have allowed him to enter Australia easily, creating a situation that may have been a comment “on his own geopolitical identity,” that publication wrote.
Subsequently, Judith Benhamou-Huet, a French journalist and curator, said on her blog that she ran into Mr. Murillo at Hong Kong Art Basel, where he talked further about his concerns with the Sydney Biennale.
Mr. Murillo, in one of the iPhone videos uploaded to Ms. Benhamou-Huet’s blog, said: “I gave a proposal, I went and made a proposal with a curator, and we were both really happy with it.” At the same time, he said, “there seemed to be a lot of conservative attitudes toward allowing an artist to be really freely expressive.”
In his statement on Tuesday, he noted that “a lot of curation today leads to the homogenization of emerging cultures — emerging from the perspective of the West — instead of forming collaborative exchanges with people that fall outside the dominant art world.” He added, “I was also trying to address the commodification of race and social practice in art.”
Called by his fans “the 21st-century Basquiat,” Mr. Murillo quickly went from cleaning office buildings to cover his expenses at the Royal College of Art in London to seeing his canvases sell at auction for more than $400,000.
More recently, however, his prices may have lost steam. Three Murillo works failed to sell over the last year at Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips.

18 March 2016

polka dots in the church

I cannot remember where I found this, probably the NYT. But in any even I liked it immediately. Its a church somewhere in Italy, certainly.

17 March 2016

Sara Bright, (ceramic and wash)

I fell upon these images while reading about Art in California. They are quite intriguing.

16 March 2016

"only the rich buy this"

David Hammons, at the Mnuchin Gallery

Reading about this new exhibit currently showing in New York, I couldn't help but wonder if it was not meant to mock the rich, effete and powerful white collecting class? Or, is it just effete itself? 

  1. affected, over-refined, and ineffectual.
    "effete trendies from art college"
    synonyms:affected, over-refined, ineffectualartificialstudiedpretentiouspreciouschichiflowerymanneredMore
    • no longer capable of effective action.
      "the authority of an effete aristocracy began to dwindle"
      synonyms:weakened, enfeebled, enervated, worn outexhaustedfinished, burnt out, played out, drained, spentpowerless
      "the whole fabric of society is becoming effete"
    • (of a man) weak or effeminate.
      "he chatted away, exercising his rather effete charm"

14 March 2016

Met Breuer

The old Whitney is now part of the Met. The New York Times sent in a photographer to see what it looked like empty. These three are gems from another era.

13 March 2016

Adelaide Biennial 2016

Tom Moore

This a great piece, not sure what it is, but its cohesive and all its parts make a whole.
This is something which I consider to be an essential part of a work of art.

08 March 2016

Phyllida Barlow

Usually not quite a fan of all the stacked chairs and mounted wooden debris which I have seen in London in various museums, I found myself enchanted by this wonderfully painted piece from the Arsenale in Venice a few years back. 

04 December 2015

Picasso, anecdotal evidence of a tough player

Luis Buñel writes in his clever memoir a story about the young Picasso on the verge of stardom.

On one occasion the Catalonian ceramist Artigas, one of his (Picasso's) close friends
went to Barcelona in 1934 with an art dealer to see Picasso's mother. She invited them to lunch, and during the meal, she told them that there was a trunk in the attic filled with drawings that her son had done when he was very young. When she took them upstairs and showed them the work, the dealer made an offer which she accepted, and he brought about thirty drawings back to Paris. When the exhibition opened in a gallery in St. Germain-des-Prés, Picasso arrived and went from drawing to drawing, reminiscing over each one and was clearly moved. Yet the minute he left, he went straight to the Police and denounced both Artigas and the dealer. Artigas had his photo in the newspaper under the headline "International Crook!"

29 October 2015

part 2. Sola Agustsson (some wise words from the front!)

1. Art collectors treat art as an investment.
For the most part, the only people who can afford to buy art in this economy are people who are not affected by this economy, the top 1 or 2 percent. Of course, rich people have always patronized the arts— Michelangelo would never have been able to produce his masterpieces without the Medici family— but today's billionaires aren’t just patronizing artists, they’re investing in and branding them. The top 10 billionaire art collectors have 18% of their net worth invested in art, though the average billionaire invests about .5% of their net worth in art. Investing in art can sometimes prove more lucrative than the stock market; a recent study shows that works by Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst have been appreciating at a higher rate than the S&P 500.
There is money to be made not just in selling art, but also in evaluating its worth. In the same way a financial advisor would help you make investment choices, there are art advisors who counsel your art purchases. “Appearing as if from nowhere, like a biblical swarm of locusts: The art advisors…. in the last few years, advisors have popped up literally everywhere and now outnumber collectors 2 to 1,” says financial writer Adam Lindermann. Many contemporary art collectors have no interest in the art itself, making priceless works of art nothing more than fetishized commodities.
Flipping, selling artworks immediately after purchasing them at exponential prices, is also a common practice among art collectors. Many financial advisors predict that continuing to inflate the value of works of art that are constantly turned over will soon cause the art bubble to burst. “The auction houses are experiencing a situation where every auction total is higher than the last and these vertiginous upward prices cannot be maintained forever. Someday the music is going to stop and somebody is going to be found without a chair to sit on,” says art expert and former Sotheby’s employee Todd Levin.
2. Art is a spectacle.
There are certain exhibitions, like James Turrell’s immersive light installation at the Guggenheim, when experiencing the art everyone is extoling is nearly impossible because there are so many viewers clamoring to see what the hype is about. I waited in line for nearly two hours to see Turrell’s Aten Reign, a “meditative spectacle” where I “may or may not see God” (according to New York Times critic Roberta Smith). Perhaps I would have seen God had not every New Yorker who had that day off been breathing down my neck, but mostly, the entire exhibit seemed like a subtle joke. There I was, standing in a line, shuffling up the steps like a prisoner, waiting to see this transformative work that no matter how spectacular would ultimately frustrate me. Perhaps I’m cynical, but the crowded wait only ruined the exhibit for me. I wondered if this wasn’t some kind of existential funhouse, a metaphor for the futility of human existence, ending in a disappointing light show.

26 October 2015

Sola Agustsson (some wise words from the front!)

from an interesting article by Sola Agustsson (part 1)
For the last few years, I’ve hovered above the refreshments table at art events, guzzling free wine like a peasant and stuffing napkins full of bread and cheese into my purse. Usually the art is mediocre, I am alone covering an exhibition, and making small talk is excruciating without the encouragement of alcohol.
I have been to thousands of art events over the course of my life. I come from a family of artists: my grandmother is an African-American assemblage artist, and my mother and aunt are artists as well. Growing up, I was dragged to all kinds of art openings and museum shows. Some art school students would love that kind of exposure, but as a kid, I found them painfully boring. Though informally trained in painting and drawing, I have always considered myself more of a writer and an academic. Nobody wants to be like their parents, even if they are bohemians. But alas, I fell into writing art reviews, despite not having a background in art history, deferring my aspirations of becoming a fiction writer.
I’ve written about art for about three years since moving to New York, though I never managed to really write as an art critic; I was more like a junior copywriter for art. Writing for certain art magazines and blogs allowed me a Gatsbyian entrance into the lives of the extraordinarily wealthy. I got to interview art collectors, gallery dealers, models, artists, and designers who probably spend more on handbags than I do on rent. I’ve sipped champagne in a Bentley and feasted on caviar in penthouse apartments. Though I disliked some of the art I was assigned to cover, as a grad student I couldn’t really be choosy about what I wrote about. I wanted to get published, and getting paid to write, no matter the topic, felt like a blessing.
I approached writing about art from a literary perspective, aiming to uncover some significant meaning by contextualizing the work within the artist’s life and perspective. This made uninteresting art exhibits easier to write about, since a lot of artists are more inspiring than their work. I’m shy, and interviewing people proved to be a valuable experience.
Yet art events continue to make me uncomfortable. Whether it's a press preview at a huge museum, a commercial art fair or a packed gallery opening in Chelsea, I’m always anxious to leave. The lighting is always too bright and everyone acts as though they, like the art, are on display, smiling grotesquely as if a camera is lurking. It’s usually so crowded you can hardly view the art, though it doesn’t seem as though people look at the art as much as they schmooze, and you have to stand the entire time. The social discomfort is the least of my qualms with the art world, though. Here are the main reasons why the art world nauseates me.

07 October 2015

Idris Murphy

This is long but very interesting for painting lovers.

Idris Murphy paints in the studio from Sean O'Brien on Vimeo.

06 October 2015

Idris Murphy, Mutawintji

I came across this marvellous painting in an old Art Review here in Australia just recently. And no, he is not an Indigenous artist here in Australia. He is a very gifted painter and he possesses a European sen of colour and light. 

More images tomorrow, and more commentary as to what I mean by "European".

30 September 2015

Leon Kossoff

I think I took this i-phone photo in The Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. I have just come across it in the computer. 

Not only do I marvel at the Humanity in it but also of its thick impasto which indicates so much struggle within the portrait itself. He is alive and painting at 88 years.

28 September 2015

Spacey Art!

There is a group show at the Galerie Thaddeus Ropac Pantin outside Paris, featuring art work inspired by Space and Space exploration. Included are a few celebrated artists of the 20th century. 

Here are two which appealed to me.

"MOON" by Not Vital 2013

and, most curiously this one by Robert Rauschenberg entitled "Nagshead Summer Glut Sketch". This surprises me by its poetic eloquence, something I have rarely ever felt in his art work despite his immense popular success and celebrated status.

26 September 2015

This is a large scale mural (27 feet high) which decorates the side of a building owned by Wyllie Goodman in Red Hook Brooklyn, NY.
According to the NY times she heard what she though was gunfire outside. Actually it was the sound of paintballs being shot at the mural.

The mural is part of a campaign in London and New York protesting the prison sentence of Iranian illustrator Atena Farghadani who received 12 years for depicting politicians as animals. (!)

In any event, I was simply struck by how much nicer the mural worked with the addition of the long vertical white stripes down its side. It gives an otherwise bland black drawing some real character.

Sadly it will be painted over because of local protests from the Brooklyn neighbors who hate it apparently.

So, does Iran have saboteurs working not so covertly in America?

25 September 2015

Earnest Ernest Hemmingway at the Morgan Library

This looks like a wonderful show at the Morgan Library in Manhattan. Here was man who seemed to be at the epicentre of the zeigist of the early 20th century. A tough guy who who did unpolitically-incorrect things like shooting lions and tigers. But, he also took a stand against the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. A flawed man, apparently, one whose own inner demons killed him with a shotgun. But, what a hard-drinking talent of a writer! If only our politicians today had an ounce of this kind of courage!