Public Art vs the Marketplace for Art
Phillip Hensher in the Independent tells a story about publicly funded art events that seem to justify Arts administration then pivots to a conclusion against the mandarins by praising Damien Hirst’s guts in going to auction:
Art has to exist within a marketplace, and Hirst is not only brave but honest in exposing the value of his art to what the market thinks of it. Art which exists entirely within the cocoon of public funding, however popular it proves, is only putting off the day of reckoning temporarily.
Lighten Up, Francis
Brian Sewell shares his remembrances of Francis Bacon in London’s Evening Standard:
Bacon and his images were nourished by his extensive knowledge of paintings by old masters, Cézanne, Degas and Picasso, by his interest in the subconscious development of images, his enquiry into the quasi-supernatural field of the emanations, auras and energies of his subjects, by his interest in crime, violence and disease, by his collection of the horrible in medical publications. He took the vile, the shudderingly visceral, the sexually and politically obscene, and so lifted them with paint that we can contemplate ferociously profane images of sodomy and torment, cruelty and despair, even the vulgar commonplaces of the lavatory, and perceive in them an inheritance from the great Renaissance themes of religious and temporal power, the classical pantheon of ancient gods, the Christian pantheon of martyrs.
Remember Jeff Koons?
While we’re all obsessing over Damien Hirst’s auction, the French are getting in a lather about Jeff Koons. The Guardian does a recap of Francois Pinault’s role in the Versailles Koons exhibition and The Times of London reports on the controversy bubbling up around it:
Detractors say that Koons accepted the invitation only to enhance his notoriety – and the value of his work. The artist said that the exhibition would shed light on the philosophy of his work. “I don’t intend to invade historic rooms, fill them with Jeff Koons and denature them,” he told Le Figaro. “I want to capture the harmony of the place.” A Versailles spokesman said the exhibition would offer new insights into a site “everyone thinks they know”.
The Tate’s Appetite
We’re a little late on these links but there was some interesting coverage of the Tate’s annual report which revealed a banner year for acquisitions. The FT points out that many artists donate their own works and the bulk of the £63m worth of art came in the form of gifts. Moreover, the museum only spent £1.5m on new work. Here’s Bloomberg on the subject:
Tate, the U.K. museum network, said it acquired 63.1 million pounds ($112 million) worth of art in the year ended March 31, including four works by Damien Hirst, and Louise Bourgeois’s 30-foot-high spider, “Maman” (1999). At a news conference held for the release of its annual report, Tate said it acquired 494 works, 320 of which were given or bequeathed by collectors and artists, making the year a record one for acquisitions.
Koh Courts Controversy
Terence Koh’s work is the source of a lawsuit filed long after an exhibition in Northern Britain. “Jesus with an Erection” raises hackles a year after the gallery show.
Mapfuwa said she believed in freedom of expression, but was of the opinion that “this statue served no other purpose than to offend Christians and to denigrate Christ.”
First Look at First Open
Choire Sicha from Radar Online goes through the Christie’s First Open sale and makes his picks:
Sol Lewitt drawings. Are you KIDDING ME? Lot 71 is a 30 by 22.5 inch drawing on paper from 1970, and it is only on for $20,000 to $30,000. There’s two other incredible ones, about the same size, and both just gouache, from 2000 and 2001—that are just on for 10 to 15K. Um YES PLEASE. (AND another from 1995.)
If you want something that’s straight investment, there’s a bit of Yayoi Kusama to be had. You don’t even have to look at it, if you hate it. You can just put it in a closet for 10 years then sell it. For a profit.
There’s a totally hot little Jules Olitski painting from 1972, except it’s not so little, it’s 95 by 60 inches, and it is only on for $20K-$30K—and a bigger one, that’s cheaper but also not as good! Look, just like Lewitt, he died last year. It’s buy it now or buy it never, man.
And there’s an “early” (ha, 2002) Inka Essenhigh on for $10K-$15K, which is like, yes please, get it WRAPPED TO GO, right now.
Weakness in Scotland and Australia; Strength in Bacon Prints
Colin Gleadell’s column returns from the Summer holiday with news of the weak showings in Scotland and Australia and the effects of the new Bacon exhibition that has just opened in London.