Art update

London/Paris October 2012 (Part 1 London)

Day 1 
Arrived in London on Monday October 8th and headed straight over to Sotheby’s to view the contemporary auctions. The highlight of the evening sale was Richter’s Abstraktes Bild, 1994 (809-4) being offered by the musician Eric Clapton. It sold on Friday evening for $34.2 million, which set the record for a living artist. It was sold at Sotheby’s in November 2001 for $3,415,750 as a triptych when it was offered by the Berlin collectors Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch. There was much discussion about the other two works. However, Richter’s dealer Marian Goodman claims it was never a triptych merely a part of a group of 4 paintings (809-1, 2, 3, 4).
The next stop was the new Pace gallery in the west wing of the Royal Academy’s Burlington Gardens Building to view a remarkable show of eight Mark Rothko paintings from 1969, the year before his suicide, with the beautiful seascape photographs of Hiroshi Sugimoto. At the end of his life, lush colors were abandoned by Rothko and a mostly palette of black and gray remained. Sugimoto has chosen to depict his seascapes in similar colors. He was inspired by the Rothko show in 1978 at the Guggenheim in New York which set him on the path to abstraction through photography. Indeed an extraordinary pairing!
Around the corner I went to view Hauser & Wirth’s extraordinary show of UK born artist Thomas Houseago on Savile Row. He continues to create works which are mysterious and unworldly yet brutally straightforward. “His unique combination of graphite sketches on the plaster combines the 3-dimensionality of sculpture with the 2-dimensionality of drawing.” His debut with the gallery includes two exhibitions with new monumental figures, relief wall panels and abstract, columnar lamps. Houseago’s practice continues to push the boundaries of contemporary sculpture all the while looking back at art history. The work is highly energized and menacing at the same time. Indeed one of the most important sculptors working today!
Houseago exhibition at Hauser & Wirth
Tate Modern opened that evening with a dual retrospective of New York photographer William Klein and Japanese contemporary photographer Daido Moriyama. (William Klein + Daido Moriyama). Although separate in presentation, both photographers who rose to fame in the 1960’s,
document modern urban life. Klein is not only one of the great American photographers, but also a painter, filmmaker, documentarian and graphic designer. His range of work includes portraits, books, magazine covers, film posters, fashion shots, abstractions and painted contact sheets. He has embraced the new technologies and digital printing techniques.  Moriyama discovered Klein’s New York photobook when he was an assistant to the photographer Takeji Iwamiya who influenced him enormously. It’s an exhilarating exhibition!
Later that evening, Princess Alexandra was in attendance at the Royal Academy Now Exhibition and Auction benefit. Many artists were among the hundreds of guests including Tracey Emin who shared her excitement for her upcoming show at MOCA, opening in Miami during Art Basel Miami Beach fair this December. She is thrilled to be working on it with Bonnie Clearwater, the director.
Day 2
On Tuesday, October 9th, the Victoria Miro Gallery on Wharf Road had a brunch for the second solo exhibition of Elmgreen & Dragset’s “Harvest.”  One could also view Yayoi Kusama’s “Narcissus Garden”, which is a permanent installation of amazing floating silver balls in a lotus pond. What a
beautiful sight it was, glistening in the sunshine.
Kusama “Narcissus Garden” at Victoria Miro
There were two exhibitions of E & D. The downstairs gallery showed a series of new unique monochrome works entitled “The Named Series.” Michael Elmgreen who I was introduced to explained the works he and his partner Ingar Dragset had worked on for over a year. The surfaces resulted from professionally removing white wall paint from prominent museums and public galleries and using techniques used to restore frescoes and murals. The thin layer of removed white wall paint was then applied onto raw canvas and framed. The artists have transformed the background wall paint, which has no value into new paintings with new significance and worth. The title of each painting, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Serpentine Gallery London show the subtle variations in texture and shade of color and quality of painting which shows the self- presentation of each institution.  Elmgreen was thrilled to see all the museums together in one space. Indeed an extraordinary concept! He was most charming and articulate.
In stark contrast the upstairs gallery, inspired by the rustic interior architecture space, E & D presented a playful humble farmyard version of the hayloft, with hay, stag antlers, sculpture of a young farm boy including abstract paintings referencing the 1950’s. Their practice explores the basic process of growing in the personal and shared cultural sense of identity and memory.
Michael Elmgreen
Inspired by my conversation with the artist, I headed over to see the “Powerless Structures, Fig. 101” in Trafalgar Square which won the “Fourth Plinth Commission” as well as their project at Louis Vuitton New Bond Street Maison entitled “Omnes Una Manet Nox” (One night awaits us all). On the second floor, an over sized fairytale bed with a dangerous looking golden vulture on one of its bed posts encourages the employees of the famed retailer to take a nap and become part of the artwork. According to the director, many employees found the bed comfortable after a long day!
E & G “One Night Awaits Us All” at LVMH
The inaugural Frieze Masters art fair opened at 3 PM in Regent’s Park, a 20 minute walk from Frieze Contemporary. Ninety galleries participated. It was a pleasure to feast the eyes on works ranging from the 4th millennium, 12th century, 17th century Romney portrait, 18th century Persian miniatures to an entire stand of Giacometti sculptures to Picasso prints, photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Brancusi and Richard Avedon. The atmosphere was relaxed, elegant and not crowded. It was a delight to chat with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg who was with his partner Diana Taylor and Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris.
Stopped by Beth Rudin de Woody’s curated show “Bad For You”, which was opening at the Shirazu gallery on Mount Street with 68 artists. Included in this amusing exhibition are works by Will Cotton, Robert Longo, Ryan McGinley, Marilyn Minter, Steve Miller, Ed Ruscha, Aurel Schmidt, Cindy Sherman, Rob Wynne, Dustin Yellin and Andy Warhol.
My favorite new space in London remains White Cube’s Bermondsey Gallery, which held a posh dinner in honor of the Chicago artist Theaster Gates as well as a moving performance with the musical ensemble Black Monks of Mississippi. Jay Joplin, the ever congenial host opened the gallery to present Theaster’s first exhibition. His practice includes sculpture, installation, performance and urban interventions whose goal is to bridge the gap between art and life. His projects aim to inspire cultural communities to engage in awareness that will lead to political and spatial change. He collaborates with architects, researchers and performers. He appeared in the 2010 Whitney Biennial where he transformed the Whitney’s Sculpture Court. His real estate project known as “The Dorchester Project” in the South Side of Chicago is ongoing and is called “real-estate art” by the artist. The renovations of the buildings are financed entirely by the sale of sculptures and artworks from materials saved from their interiors.
Day 3
A long line of eager art addicts eagerly waited for the doors to open at the 11am VIP opening of the 10th Frieze Art Fair on Wednesday morning. The atmosphere was electric and exciting as collectors, museum directors, art advisors and dealers moved about to view over 170 of the most exciting contemporary art galleries in the world. In contrast to past art fairs, this year, galleries opted to show more domestic scale works and various crafted art.  At Salon 94, the porcelain, glaze sculpture installation by Matt Merkel Hess was selling fast. Gavin Brown showed one of my favorite artists Martin Creed’s works as well as several paintings by Jonathan Horowitz inspired by Roy Lichtenstein. Gavin Brown Enterprise was awarded the “best stand” prize at Frieze!
Matt Merkel Hess at Salon 94
Day 4
Walked over to Berkeley Square to view the sixth edition of the Pavilion of Art and Design (PAD) fair. The vision of this fair is the mixing of fine and decorative arts. It’s exciting to see the inclusion of design as well. New US galleries joining PAD for the first time include L&M Arts, Kasmin, Castelli and Skarstedt. Luxembourg & Dayan gallery’s exhibition of Rob Pruitt’s “Panda” paintings along side Chinese archaeological objects shows a renewed interest in creating a dialogue between the old and the new as seen at Frieze Masters. This seems to be an ongoing theme as I went to Pilar Ordovas’ gallery on Savile Row to see the Caracci Freud exhibition. The Dulwich Picture Gallery has lent three major Annibale Caracci (1560-1609) head studies to pair with a series of Lucien Freud’s (1922-2011) head portraits, presenting the never before explored connections between the two artists.  By this juxtaposition, many affinities in technique, style and subject matter are revealed.
Now off to Paris…