François Morellet died on Wednesday, just a few days after his 90th birthday. Parisian gallerist Kamel Mennour confirmed the French artist’s passing to Le Monde. Morellet is known primarily as a major figure of geometric abstraction and Concrete Art, working across mediums including painting, sculpture, and light-based art. Though he began working in the 1950s, the artist has explained that he had to wait decades before his neon works became in-demand enough to sell. Morellet was a central player in the founding of the significant Paris collective of the 1960s Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV).
Some 60 years after his practice began, Morellet received a major retrospective at the Center Pompidou in Paris, cementing his place in the country as one of the key artists of his generation.
You’ve heard of the titans of the pop art movement – Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol – and will be familiar with images of Coca-Cola bottles, Marilyn Monroe and Lucky Strike packets, but far from being purely the reserve of the American art scene in the 60s and 70s, this movement spanned the globe at a time when countries and societies were reeling from the fallout from WWII, raging conflict in Vietnam and the rise and rise of Communism. Artists were uniquely placed to satirise and deride politicians, film stars – and even other artists, using humour, sex and innovation to provoke, parody and reflect…
To the outside world, many of the artists in The EY Exhibition: The World Goes Pop existed on the peripheries of the movement; of course Warhol made the news with headline grabbing quotes – and continues to be the poster boy for all things Pop to this day – but many artists working across Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and Asia were hugely prolific in their own countries, and proved the movement was not just American, British or male. Many brought together for the first time, their significance is now re-examined in an explosion of visual stimulation.
Numerous artists created work that examined and questioned depictions of the female body in art and popular culture. Instead of being a purely ‘decorative’ element of a composition, the female body emerged throughout the 60s and 70s as a legitimate tool of protest and empowerment. The body was being reclaimed. No longer merely fetishised and glossy, there were uncomfortable questions being asked of its role in visual culture and mass media.
Artists such as Evelyne Axell (who for a time showed under the gender-ambiguous name Axell) challenged that it now stood for power, liberation and equality. Introduced to painting by family friend René Magritte, Axell’s 1966 work Valentine was produced as a homage to Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to go in to space (and also the first civilian). By attaching a helmet and zip to the canvas, Axell invites her viewer to peek through the zipper at the flesh beneath. Acutely aware of a woman’s reception in a male-dominated industry, her work frequently challenged perceptions of images of the female body and sexuality. Despite achieving a feat of daring exploration and discovery, many only commented on Tereshkova’s physical appearance. To further highlight this absurdity, Axell staged a Happening in which a model performed a reverse strip-tease; starting naked apart from an astronaut’s helmet and adding layers of clothing as the performance went on, to the delight of the assembled crowd. Catalan artist Mari Chordà also explored anatomy in Coitus Pop 1968, by abstracting the sexual organs in a burst of enamelled colour on wood – graphic shapes and unmistakably phallic.
In Anna Maria Maiolino’s striking Glu Glu Glu 1966, we stare straight down the throat of our subject, and below her disembodied head lie brightly coloured intestines. She is female, but anonymous. The body parts are recognisable, but disconnected from the whole. It’s beautifully constructed using quilted fabric, which should be soft and tactile, but used to make glossy internal organs it becomes repulsive, visceral and unsettling.
War and Peace
Far from being purely about consumer habits and radical new fashion, pop art was a vehicle for artists to comment on political events and recent history. Nothing was off limits; Joan Rabascall’s Atomic Kiss was made as part protest, part warning sign; whilst America fought in Vietnam, the very real threat of an impending world war terrified a generation who were living through vicious conflict. Sex and death are uncomfortable bedfellows, and he describes his motivation for using found imagery: ‘what was important, I believe, was to get away from abstract art, which was very present in galleries, and do something that was corresponding to the time in which we were living’. Read the full interview
America’s influence on fashion, art, music, and technology around the world of course couldn’t be denied, but a number of artists commented on this imperialism by depicting the American flag or President Kennedy – whose assassination in 1963 rocked the United States to the core, but the ripples were felt globally. Often these motifs were adopted with a fascination in the materials, processes and subject matters employed by Rauschenberg, Wesselman and their peers. A truly international society opened up with the advent of cheaper air travel and imported television and films. Other nations felt connected and invested in these news reports, and as such America’s agenda also belonged to the rest of the world. The Vietnam War was firmly in the sights of Finnish artist Reimo Reinikainen, with his series reworking the Stars and Stripes.
Japanese artist Keiichi Tanaami became obsessed with movies, television and adverts as a young boy growing up in Tokyo, watching up to 500 hundred films in one year. He himself has drawn comparisons with his work and that of Warhol – citing him as a huge influence after a visit to New York in the 1960s. With Japan still reeling from the atomic bomb attack in 1945, Tanaami turned his sights on the culture that was rebuilt in the aftermath of tragedy, and he still draws on this when making art: ‘Today, I still create works that deal with my experience of war as a child. This moment of fear that a whole city can disappear just within a moment is a memory that has been recorded deep in my mind; it does not go away’. Read the full interview
Strength in Numbers
Included in the exhibition are several works by groups of artists working under one name. Highly politicised, after years of civil war and living under General Franco’s regime, Joan Cardells and Jorge Ballester formed Equipo Realidad in Valencia in 1966. Far from an introspective viewpoint, they explored Spain’s heritage and cultural traditions, whilst examining them through the lens of modern society, developing as all other European territories were, at rapid speed. They used found imagery and appropriated them or referenced it in their paintings, such as Robert Capa’s iconic photograph of a Spanish resistance fighter, Falling Soldier, and Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man in Divine Proportion 1967. Though they made work in Spain, Cardells said ‘our work was closely tied to current international events, more than national or local ones, because of censorship. We were cautious because censorship was watching us: we had a problem with a serigraphy of Che Guevara. But the critical stance was always above the local or the general’. Read the full interview.
Another group, Equipo Crónica, comprised of Rafael Solbes, Manuel Valdes and Juan Antonio Toledo was also operating in Valencia at the same time, forming in 1964 and also closely examining the changing face of the country they lived in. With a conservative fascist party in power, these groups we considered radical, and sometimes even anarchic thinkers – critical of conservative doctrines and passionate about the role played by the artist in society. They reinforce this by painting their own versions of famous Spanish paintings hailed as masterpieces the world over, such as Las Meninas, giving it a 1970s makeover, complete with patterned carpet, inflatable toys and a pot plant. Far from trivialising important motifs from Spanish culture, they focussed on the collision between past and present, and the emergence of mass-produced domestic items. In 1969 they painted Guernica ‘69 made in reference to Picasso famous protest painting of the same name. Their works were figurative, referenced other famous images, popular culture and events in the political landscape in which they were living – as a means of resisting the totalitarian state of Franco’s Spain.
2 by 2
The World Goes Pop features many works that deal with the idea of multiples, doubles, mirror images and diptychs, as Pop Art turned its sights to the very new concept of mass production; in homewares, cars, gadgets, fashion, music and even weapons. Source material from advertising, music and film found its way on to gallery walls as artists experimented with techniques and image manipulation like screen-printing and collage, elevating their status from the domestic and everyday, to fine art.
Artists are uniquely placed to turn a mirror on society at large, and to broadcast back to their audience. Pop Art was something a general consumer population could relate to – it was not elitist; it used symbols, materials, products and images that people identified with, many of them would be in the average home in their kitchen cupboard or a photograph from a newspaper article. Magazine and comic strips were widely used, and not just by Roy Lichtenstein, as the history books may have you believe. French artist Dorothée Selz mimicked poses from a magazine to create her series Relative Mimetism highlighting the convention of using the body as a sales tool and sex object, by placing the original and her version side-by-side.
Join the conversation #WorldGoesPop
Source: Think You Know Pop Art? | Tate
With art market pundits anticipating a ‘chill’ in 2016, Christie’s opening salvo was conversely mild, and without too many portents of gloom. But it wasn’t on fire either. The sale realised £95.9 million ($138 million), including premium, or just around the lower estimate of £83.6-123 million without premium. A tolerable 22 lots, or 25 percent of the 89 lots, went unsold, including only 2 in the category of works selling for £1.7 million ($2.5 million) or more. But just as many lots sold to bids either on or below the low estimates.
The sale, which included a separate catalogue for surrealist works, trailedlast February’s £147 million pound sale by some margin. “It wasn’t easy,” commented Guy Jennings, managing director of The Fine Art Fund Group. “I’d say the market has softened a bit. But it was steady.” Jay Vincze, the head of the Impressionist and modern art department at Christie’s London said the shortfall on last year was because last year he had two exceptional collections. “There was no chill; this was about normal for us.”
If Christie’s were looking for some certitude in the middle market, it could be found. They had a racing start with works on paper by Pablo Picassoand Henri-Edmond Cross soaring over estimates leaving underbidders in the room—dealer Hugh Gibson and advisor Wentworth Beaumont—empty handed.
Some of the top lots were coming back to auction having sold just before the 2008 crash, so it was a test as to whether those values could be maintained. Egon Schiele‘s 1909 self-portrait oil painting had previously been in Ronald Lauder’s collection until he sold it in 2007 to help pay for his acquisition of some expensive, restituted works by Gustav Klimt for the Neue Gallerie. In 2007, it sold on a single bid for £4.5 million pounds, and the buyer, a ‘private European collector,’ was hoping for a small mark-up at £6-8 million. Tuesday night, it sold for £7.2 million.
Also the property of a ‘private European collector’ was a 1925 still life by Picasso which had been bought in the same Christie’s auction for a mid-estimate of £2.8 million. Christie’s had doubled the estimate this time around, to £4-6 million, and it made a modest return, selling it for £4 million pounds to a phone bidder against the London dealer Ezra Nahmad.
Other top lots to sell were a blissfully romantic work by Marc Chagall, Les Maries de la Tour, which clipped the top estimate selling for £7 million ($10 million) to adviser Thomas Seydoux who, when he was at Christie’s, was known for his close relationships with Russian collectors. The painting last sold at auction in New York in 1991 for $600,000. And Fernand Leger’s dynamic Le Moteur, a smaller version of a painting of the same title which sold for a record $16.7 million in 2001, sold this evening to dealer, Hugh Gibson, within estimate for £5.2 million.
There was a meaty selection of early 20th century German paintings byErnst Ludwig Kirchner, Lyonel Feininger, Otto Dix and more, which, except for a weak still life by Max Beckmann, sold mostly above estimates. A street scene in Murnau in 1908 by Wassily Kandinsky—not long before he shifted towards abstraction, was snapped up below estimate for £1.4 million by Amsterdam-based advisor Matthijs Erdman, and an early expressionistic landscape by Karl Schmidt-Rottluf, Windy Day, was chased by German advisor, Jorg Bertz, before selling to a phone bidder near the top end of its estimate at £1.3 million. The star of this section, though, was the relatively unknown Neue Sachlichkeit artist, Georg Scholz, with a satirical 1920s critique of small town bourgeois activities (Small Town by Day) in Germany, which quadrupled the low estimate selling to New York’s Acquavella Gallery for a record £1.2 million. Christie’s saw this coming because much the same happened with a gouache study for this painting in 2012.
On the minus side was a small, rather dull Giacometti painting, Buste d’homme, which had been bought just before the credit crunch for £1.6 million. Now estimated at £1.8-2.5 million, it failed to find a buyer. Making losses for the sellers were a Matisse drawing, bought in New York in November 2012 for $458,500, which now sold for £266,500 ($383,494), and a large jazzy canvas by Andre Lhote, Gipsy Bar, for which the owner paid a seemingly extravagant $2.7 million dollars back in 2007. That record still stands, as Gipsy Bar sold this time round for a more reasonable £1.1 million ($1.9 million).
Christie’s had made much of the promise in Asia when touring the highlights from its sale in the East last month. But bidding from Asian collectors was muted. A verdant Farm in Normandy by Paul Cezanne (1882), sold near the low estimate for £5.1 million, as did Chagall’s run-of-the-mill Violinist under the Moon, which sold for £1.8 million—both to Asian phone bidders. The strongest Asian bidding came for an early, rather awkward looking portrait of a young man by Cezanne which was estimated at £300,000, but sold for £1.2 million.
The surrealist section of the sale appeared to be a bit disappointing because past sales have been getting stronger and stronger. Christie’s has built a reputation as the leading auctioneer for surrealist art under the guidance of deputy chairman, Olivier Camu, who is also a specialist in the area. Last February, they chalked up 66 million pounds of sales for their Surrealist sale (over the £37-54 million estimate). This evening, the level of consignments was down, with a pre-sale estimate of £26-39 million, as was the total, £29.5 million. Echoing Vincze, Camu said the disparity was only due to the exceptional private collection it had for sale last year, which is not something you can depend on.
However, many of the lots that had higher estimates had already been at auction within the last five years, and were thus well known to buyers. The top lot, Max Ernst‘s The Stolen Mirror, an homage to his former lover, Leonora Carrington, set a record $16.3 million (£10.3 million) when it sold for four times the lower estimate to a European collector at Christie’s New York in November 2011. That collector must have needed to sell and been prepared to take a loss as he secured a guarantee from Christie’s, most probably near the lower end of the £7-10 million estimate. But bidding was thin on Tuesday and the painting fell to a lone telephone bidder—likely the guarantor—for a premium inclusive £7.6 million.
Also taking a loss was Christie’s. Rene Magritte’s 1947 painting,Mesdesmoiselles de l’Isle Adam, which is simultaneously delightful and scary, sold at Christie’s New York in November 2014 below estimate for $4.3 million dollars. The painting had a third party guarantee, but had somehow managed to become property of Christie’s (i.e., the guarantee didn’t materialize). Now with a lower £2-3 million estimate, it sold for £2 million ($2.86 million), with Christie’s having to shoulder the difference.
The other Christie’s owned property, Joan Miro’s Femme et Oiseau dans la Nuit, 1968, carried the second highest estimate of the surrealist sale at £3-5 million, down on the £4-6 million it carried in June 2010 when it sold for £5.2 million. Although it had not been guaranteed, it was not paid for. Fortunately for Christie’s, there was plenty of bidding on it the second time around, spurred first by London dealer Angela Nevill, and then by Ezra Nahmad, before it sold to a phone bidder for £5.8 million, just enough to get Christie’s out of jail.
Another of the higher valued lots that had been at auction relatively recently was Salvador Dalí‘s Le Voyage Fantastique, a 1965 portrait of movie star, Raquel Welch, that blended sci-fi elements with a Lichtenstein-like benday-dot technique. This obviously appealed to the Mugrabi family of art dealers when they bought it in 2011 in New York for a mid-estimate $1.9 million. With a similar estimate of £1.2-1.8 million, it might have tempted one of the Asian buyers who have taken Dalí to heart, but it sold on a £1.2 million bid ($1.7 million), and not to an Asian collector, leaving the Mugrabis unusually short on a deal.
source via: artnet
Advances in technology have had a major impact on the art world this year. Cutting-edge research techniques have given scholars and conservationists unparalleled insights into the thought processes and techniques of master artists who died centuries ago, as well as finding long-hidden treasures.
Here we reveal the most fascinating art discoveries of the past year, from secret portraits to glowing sea creatures.
1. Lost Donatello sculptures discovered
A few years ago, art dealer Andrew Butterfield bought a wooden putto from the estate of Turin-based art dealer Giancarlo Gallino. The sculpture is nearly identical to a similar piece acquired by Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts in the 1960s, which was determined at the time not to be fromDonatello‘s hand.
But he couldn’t ignore the resemblance. With the help of several Italian Renaissance art scholars, Butterfield secured the stunning attribution this year.
2. Rare Bernini bust found by Slovakian art dealer
A Slovakian art dealer took a gamble on a misattributed marble bust, which turned out to be an incredibly rare early work by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. In June, Bust of Pope Paul V was acquired by the Getty Museum in Los Angeles for $33 million.
3. Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa has another portrait hiding underneath
Over the course of a decade French scientist Pascal Cotte used reflecting light technology to analyze the most famous painting in the world. According to the researcher, the original painting did not include the sitter’s enigmatic smile. The findings could reveal more information on Da Vinci‘s process, as well as the identity of one of the most famous women in the world.
4. Lost Fabergé egg elephant discovered
This year, researchers found a secret object in a Fabergé egg belonging to the British royal family’s art collection. The Diamond Trellis Egg, commissioned by czar Alexander III in 1892, contains an automaton elephant embellished in diamonds and rubies. Despite its age, restorers were happy to note that the automaton still works perfectly.
5. Nazi treasure train is likely a bust
Two men claimed to have discovered a long-lost military train near the Polish city of Walbrzych, which experts thought could contain gold, gems, and priceless works of art looted by the Nazis during WWII.
“We are still waiting for the facts to be established but we very much hope that it is a legitimate find—all opportunities to identify and restitute looted property from the Nazi era must be welcomed,” the Art Recovery Group’s Jerome Hasler told artnet News via e-mail.
But in December, professor Janusz Madej from Krakow’s Academy of Mining told BBC News, “There may be a tunnel. There is no train.”
6. Researchers find Monet’s hidden signature
Researchers at Finland’s University of Jyväskylä used a hyperspectral camera and an XRF device to uncover Claude Monet‘s signature obscured under a layer of paint in A Haystack in the Evening Sun.
Until now, researchers have been skeptical of the authenticity of the 1891 painting due to the missing signature.
7. Art expedition accidentally uncovers new glow-in-the-dark sea turtle
In September marine biologist David Gruber discovered a critically-endangered hawksbill sea turtle that mesmerized its audience. The turtle’s biofluorescent shell changes color depending on the water temperature.
Gruber was participating in a TBA21 Academy expedition—an art initiative which recruits artists, curators and scientist to work on projects relating to environmental issues worldwide. We’re excited to see what the team comes up with in 2016.
8. Columbia discovers 300-year-old shipwreck worth $1 billion
Described by Colombian president Jean Manuel Santos as “the most valuable treasure that has been found in the history of humanity,” the Spanish 18th century galleon San Jose and its treasures were found off the coast of Cartagena on November 27. Ownership is currently being contested by Spain and its former colony.
9. X-ray analysis gives shocking insights into Kazimir Malevich’s Black Square
Researchers at Moscow’s Tretyakov Gallery used X-ray analysis to discover an unsettling joke underneath Malevich‘s Black Square (1915). The text is thought to be a response to an 1897 painting by the French writer and humorist Alphonse Allais.
The Russian artist’s influences may be much broader than previously thought.
10. $58 million trove of looted antiquities uncovered in raid
A joint investigation by Swiss and Italian police broke up a smuggling ring lead by the notorious Sicilian smuggler Gianfranco Becchina this year, which contained $58 million of illicit antiquities. Police seized 5,361 items in one of the biggest busts of its type in history.
Famed illustrator and graphic artist Peter Max, known for his signature psychedelic style and pop culture drawings, has designed key art to celebrate the show’s upcoming season of NBC’s The Voice.
A cultural icon whose work spans four decades, Max’s groundbreaking art has been seen everywhere from the outside of a Boeing 747 to the pages of Life magazine. And drawing the Voice judges isn’t exactly out of his wheelhouse: Max previously painted portraits of pop sensation Taylor Swift, based on the debut of her 2008 album “Speak Now.”
With paintings on exhibition in hundreds of museums and galleries worldwide, Peter Max and his vibrant colors have become part of the fabric of contemporary culture. Max has been successively called a Pop Icon, Neo Fauvist, Abstract Expressionist and the United States “Painter Laureate.”
Check out Gallery Art’s collection of Peter Max artwork throughout the decades: