Monday, June 28, 2010

Iran Displaying Little Seen Modern Art Masterpieces

While the work of artists such as Monet, Picasso and Warhol are enjoyed by art-lovers around the world (and many of the artists' images are as recognizable and well-known as McDonald's Golden Arches), the masterpieces of famed Western Artists were not appreciated by the leaders of Iran's Islamic revolution, and thus, they were kept out of view in the nation for decades.

Now, one of the greatest collections of contemporary Western art - put together under a Western-leaning monarchy before the revolution in Iran - is open to the public at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, with some works on display for the first time in over 30 years!

In a land where the US is considered the "great Satan" and where decadent music, movies and other popular culture entities are seen as "Godless," the exhibition is full of Iranian cultural contradictions. (For example, a colorful Roy Lichtenstein bronze portrays a giant glass filled with a fruity cocktail - an uncommon site in Iran, where alcohol is banned).

Visitors entering the museum will first see images of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini (picture, above), the founder of the Islamic Republic, and his successor as supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. These portraits are compulsory features of all public buildings throughout Iran.

The galleries of the stark concrete museum - built especially to house the collection during the latter years of American ally, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's reign - are works by pretty much every major Western artist of the late 19th and 20th centuries.

The exhibition, which runs through the summer, includes French impressionist paintings, Van Gogh lithographs, the self-portrait of Edvard Munch, sculptures by Picasso, Henry Moore and Alberto Giacometti, and more.

The collection contains around 4,000 pieces and has always been stored in good conditions. Furthermore, Iran's authorities have no desire to suppress the exhibiting of the collection, but there is no room in the museum to display the entire collection at once. Hopefully, in the future, the museum will be able to mount theme-based exhibitions, rotating the collection through various schools of art.

Click here to read the entire Washington Post article related to this story.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Jasper Johns Painting Sells for $28.6 Million, Setting Impressive Record for the Artist

Last Tuesday one of Jasper Johns' "Flag" paintings from 1960-66, which had previously belonged to the late Michael Crichton, sold at a Christie's New York postwar and contemporary art auction for $28.5 million. The painting, which sold for nearly double its high estimate of $15 million, marks a very impressive accomplishment for Johns - his highest selling painting to date.

Richard Rossello, a Bryn Mawr, PA-based art dealer of American paintings, purchased the Johns' painting (although it is not known who he bought it on behalf).

Throughout the evening, (Christie's first week of postwar and contemporary art auctions) Americans dominated the buying, as Christie's officials estimate that 75% of the buyers were American. "Flag" was one of 31 works being sold from Crichton's estate. The famed author, who died in November 2008, had met Jasper Johns during the early 1970s and bought the painting directly from the artist in 1974. The fact that the painting had just one owner (and a big named-one at that) - contributed to its high selling price.

Crichton's collection got to know most of the artists whose work he collected - including David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg (image, left). Last week's sale featured works by all of them.

Click HERE to read the entire story from the New York Times (including details about the other works on sale from Crichton's estate as well as information about the auction's high sellers and stats about the sale)

Click HERE to see where Jasper Johns is exhibiting around the world

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present" at the MoMA

NYC's Museum of Modern Art is currently exhibiting a performance retrospective that traces the career of bountiful Yugoslavian artist Marina Abramović. "The Artist is Present" (which runs through May 31st) displays fifty works that span over four decades - including the artist's early interventions and sound pieces, video works, installations, photographs, solo performances and collaborative performance made with Ulay (AKA Uwe Laysiepen).

The exhibition marks three important "firsts" (one for the museum and two for the artist). These include: the first time the MoMA has devoted a retrospective to a living artist; the first live re-performances of Abramović's works by other people ever to be performed in a museum setting; and a new piece by the artist that marks the longest original solo performance Abramović has ever created and executed.

In order to allow visitors the chance the experience the timelessness of the works in the exhibition, all performances in "the Artist is Present" will take place throughout the entire duration of the exhibition - starting before the museum opens each day and continuing until after it closes.

Additionally, a chronological installation of the artist's work will run concurrently (on the sixth floor of the MoMA), revealing different modes of representing, documenting and exhibiting Abramović's ephemeral, time-based and media-based works.

Click here to read more about the exhibition (and to view Abramović's first performance)

Click here for related exhibitions at the MoMA

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A New Type of Art Patronage

The rich and powerful have always expressed a love of expensive art (among other luxuries) and kings / czars / popes (etc) of the past, seemed to have artists on hand to create masterpieces for their wealthy bosses. But Andrew Jeffrey Wright, a punky, independent-minded Philadelphia -based artist devoid of convention, defies the ideas of art patronage.

While Wright admits that his own drawings and paintings are "too expensive for people who don't have that much money," he displays his desire for everyone to have access to his art.

"I love poor people, and not just because I am one- I think poor people have great style and taste," says Wright.

Because of this, the artist recently launched a low-cost subscription series for fans who pay a yearly fee for what he has to offer. Wright's "patrons" are to receive one of every colorful screen print he produces for the calendar year of 2010. The subscription, which includes a guaranteed minimum of twelve prints for each patron, starts at an annual cost of just $300 (and includes shipping and handling).

Wright's excited about the "fun connection" his lower-cost art generates, as he appreciates the people who really like his work (and is happy that they can now enjoy their very own Andrew Jeffrey Wright screen prints).

In addition, Wright is one of the co-creators of Philadelphia's Space 1026, a communal gallery and studio launched in 1997, intended as a ten year experiment. Since its debut, the collective has become known for its innovative (and sometimes wacky) works in photography, video, animation, painting, drawing, collages, zines, performance, sculpture, t-shirts, and screen printing - all of which Wright does handily, with both humor and enthusiasm.

Space 1026, along with Los Angeles gallery owner Justin Van Hoy (who bought one of Wright's pieces at 1026 - but worried about keeping up with the artist after leaving Philadelphia), and Wright's zine-making friend Mark Price (who achieved much success with his "zine-of-the-month" club) are the three contributing factors that inspired the creation of Wright's subscription series.

Last words: the witty and personable Wright says,

"There is no feeling of loss even though I am selling my prints for a lot less money. It creates a connection between me and the people who dig me ... if they feel they are receiving way too many screen prints, they could use some as currency - go into a five-star restaurant and pay for a meal. Or book a trip to Paris..."

Read the entire article about Wright and his Subscription Series here.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Michail Pirgelis' First Solo Show in Berlin

German-born artist Michail Pirgelis, who grew up in Greece, is currently exhibiting his first solo exhibition in Berlin at Sprüth Magers Berlin. The exhibition, called ‘Ακρόπολης – Acropolis,’ includes sculptures and objects based on (and made from) original airplane parts.

Pirgelis collects airplane parts, salvaging them from scrap yards around the world. His Berlin exhibition displays seven new objects – plus two sculptures from his 2009 “Airsaddles” series. Some of his new works include brightly polished outer fuselage sections, which casually hang from the gallery wall and a series of baggage storage compartments, which have been transformed into loudspeaker towers.

Through cutting, collaging, highlighting, covering and polishing, the artist transforms his rescued pieces, which have escaped their ill-fated destiny of ending up as scrap metal, into elaborate sculptures. Upon completion, each piece’s rejuvenation represents the once-evident prominence of aviation (which has seemed to disappear due to today’s mass air transportation).

Likewise, Pirgelis’ creations surpass issues plaguing the airline industry and airplanes today – those of safety, terrorism, and ecological effects – and touch on themes of technology and how humanity works with and transforms materials, turning them into masterful marvels, like airplanes.

This powerfully intriguing exhibition is on display through April 1, 2010.

Read more about the artist, his exhibition and artwork.

See what else is going on in Berlin's Art Scene

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Nicky Philipps Paints the First Double Portrait of Princes William and Harry

London's National Portrait Gallery recently revealed the first (official) double portrait of Princes William and Harry of Wales. Painted by artist Nicky Philipps, the candid-like portrait shows the royal brothers engaging in conversation while wearing their Household Cavalry uniforms.

The artist hoped to capture William and Harrys' "brotherly banter." The juxtaposition of regal charm - the Princes in their royal military garb - and everyday normalcy - the brothers engaging in relaxed conversation - give the portrait a welcomed balance.

Philipps remarked that the Princes were "good company," and Sandy Nairne, the Director of the National Portrait Gallery, stated

The first portrait of the Princes captures them formally dressed, but informally posed. It is a delightful image which extends the tradition of royal portraiture."

Click here to read more about this topic.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

William Klein's Never-Before-Seen Fashion Photos Exposed in New Book

Artist William Klein, who arrived in Rome in 1956 and wandered around the city with film director Federico Fellini, poet Pier Paolo Pasolini, novelist Alberto Moravia, and other avant-garde Italian writers and artists, masterfully photographed images of the city and the fashionable men and women who inhabited Rome. Klein's visual displays were published in an a book that featured the artist's observations and descriptions (via extended captions) as well as quotes and statements about Rome by some of the world's most famous writers.

To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Rome book's 1959 release, the Aperture Foundation and Contrasto are collaborating to publish a revised version. The new edition includes two volumes of many never-before-seen fashion photos that Klein had taken while in Rome and text updated by the artist. The book introduces society's newest generation of photography lovers to Klein's daring and experimental work (which, during the 1950s and 60s, shocked the art world) and today still captivates viewers and inspires creative thinking.

To read the ArtDaily article associated with this post, click here.