The month of June began with a visit to Cleveland to attend the opening of Keith Mayerson’s exhibition “My American Dream”, his first solo museum show in the US, at MOCA, to which I was a lender. It was a retrospective of Keith’s ongoing project to chronicle his personal journey along with the historical and political events of the last few decades. There was a Q & A with curator Megan Reich and Keith paid tribute to America’s democracy which enabled him to be free and live his life of choice. It was truly refreshing to hear his remarks and be inspired to look on the bright side of the political situation today.
Prior to the opening, we had a tour of the Art Collection at the famous Cleveland Clinic. The many works including Kusama’s pumpkin, Teresita Fernandez’s video, Sarah Morris’s large installation, provided an atmosphere for patients and their families in which to relax and find quiet time.
The following day we went to the famous Rock ’n Roll Hall of Fame Museum which was sensational. It included my favorite legend “Elvis” singing “Jailhouse Rock”. The final stop was the contemporary galleries at the Cleveland Museum, including a small exhibition of early Alex Katz paintings.
I arrived on June 7th in Venice and the next day we visited the “Philip Guston and the Poets” exhibition at the Galleria dell’Accademia di Venezia. The exhibition spans a 50-year period until his death in 1980 and includes 50 major paintings and 25 prominent drawings.
One of the outstanding satellite shows was the Pierre Huyghe video entitled “A Journey that Wasn’t”, 2005 at the Espace Louis Vuitton Venezia. It presents two opposing worlds of “unspoiled nature versus spectacularised urban society”.
The following days, we visited Damien Hirst’s doubleheader museum exhibitions entitled “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” at Francois Pinault’s Punta Della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi museums, curated by Elena Geuna, the former director of the Contemporary Department at Christie’s. The exhibits are a triumph and Damien succeeds in playing with what he wants us to believe is true and in fact it’s not what we think it is! “SOMEWHERE BETWEEN LIES AND TRUTH LIES THE TRUTH” as seen in the entrance to the museum. Even the guards are coached by Damien how to interact with the viewers. This is Hirst’s most ambitious project and his first one person show in Italy after 10 years in the making.
The Giardini boasted 29 national pavilions and among my favorites were Phyllidia Barlow’s ambitious installation for the British Pavilion. “Folly playfully challenges the audiences to explore their own understanding of sculpture”, in contrast to Mark Bradford’s somber critique and haunting installation in the American Pavillion. Xavier Veilhan, of Versailles fame, turned the French Pavilion into a recording studio with Christian Marclay and Lionel Bovier entitled “Studio Venezia”. They invited international musicians and artists to play in the recording studio for the entire Biennale.The Korean Pavilion featured works by Cody Choi and Lee Wan in their joint exhibition entitled “Counterbalance: The Stone and the Mountain”. They represented multi-generational viewpoints on Korean identity in our globalized world. “The Thinker” is a riff on Rodin’s famous work and is made from toilet paper and pepto-bismal.
In the Arsenale, Christine Macel, the curator of the 57th International Art Exhibition, has curated “Viva Arte Viva,” including 120 participants. Her intention was to focus on art and artists and to give a voice to the artists in order to express what makes us human and to explore the ways in which they choose to live. It is an uplifting theme and a comforting approach in this time of global conflicts and uncertainties. My favorites included Rina Banerjee, (India), Karla Black (UK), Olafur Eliasson, (Denmark), Sheila Hicks (US), Alicia Kwade (Poland), Ciprian Muresan, (Romania), Ernesto Neto, (Brazil), Rachel Rose (US), Kiki Smith (US), and Rachel Rose (US).
Arriving in Basel on June 11th, I headed over to the Tinguely Museum to see Wim Delvoye’s “Cement Truck” on the lawn and his upcoming exhibition scheduled to open on Tuesday evening.
Lunch on Monday at the Beyeler Foundation has been a long-standing tradition. This year we opted to see the Wolfgang Tillmans exhibition before… The artist was addressing a group of French guests which added another dimension to the exhibition.
The “Art Unlimited” opening later that afternoon, curated by Gianni Jetzer excited the audience as always. He brings together exceptional artists, who create amazing projects both in content and scale. Chris Burden’s ‘Ode to Santos Dumont” an operational airship inspired by an aviation pioneer was spectacular! Rob Pruitt’s photographic series of “Official Art World/Celebrity Look-Alikes” was hilarious! Song Dong’s installation “Through the Wall” using found door and window frames “challenged the notion of a boundary as impenetrable”.
Last year’s problem of long lines due to security checks was solved by inviting the first VIP guests to a champagne breakfast reception from 9:30 to 11 am. Promptly at 11am, the doors were opened and everyone was already inside. Urs Fischer’s wax portrait of “Bruno Bishofberger and Yoyo” was one of the highlights at the packed Gagosian booth. There were 8 works by Basquiat scattered around the fair and some were priced based on the record price of $110.5 million that Yusaku Maezawa paid on May 19th at Sotheby’s. The combined total was $89 million.
On June 15th, I had the most memorable art experience on this trip. It was the preview tour and luncheon at the Schloss Derneburg Museum located in Derneburg, Germany hosted by Andy and Christine Hall, founders of the Hall Art Foundation. The Museum is scheduled to open to the public on July lst. The Halls purchased the castle from Georg Baselitz in 2006, who lived there for 3 decades where his studio was also located. Prior to that it was the residence of the Munster family. Before 1976, it was a monastery for several centuries and originally built as a fortified castle almost 1,000 years ago. There are currently 7 exhibitions on view including Malcolm Morley, Antony Gormley, Julian Schnabel, Herman Nitsch, Barry Le Va and two curated shows “Fur Barbara”, by Leo Koenig and “The Truth of Uncertainty”, by Chrissie Iles.
Gormley’s “Being” installation is his largest exhibition to date in Germany including works on paper, sculptures and site specific works. “Being investigates ways of presenting the body less as an object and more as a place – a site of transformation and an axis of physical and spatial experience.”
It was stunning to see Gormley’s “Sleeping Field” installed in its entirety at Schloss Derneburg Museum. The first time I viewed it, at White Cube’s opening during Frieze, in London last October, it was not. This moving work addresses the current migration crisis in Europe as well the crowded urban landscape.
To Gormley’s delight, “European Field” dating from 1993 has been installed in the renovated barn for the first time since its creation. My first reaction in viewing this masterpiece was how many people were involved in installing the 35,000 terracotta elements and how long did it take?
After the morning 2 hour tour, a sumptuous luncheon was served in Baselitz’s kitchen where he once cooked several years ago. Many extraordinary drawings still line the walls. The afternoon tour continued with the remaining exhibitions and a final farewell tea back in the kitchen!
In Schloss Derneburg, the Halls have succeeded in providing an extraordinary platform to collaborate with the artists, creating dialogues between the spaces and the artworks to engage the viewers. This speaks to their generosity, aesthetics and innovation in the museum world!
The final stop of this trip was London. One of the highlights was the “Picasso: Minotaurs and Matadors” exhibit at the Gagosian gallery on Grosvenor Hill, curated by Sir John Richardson, in partnership with Bernard-Ruiz Picasso. It was beautifully installed by Caruso St. John who originally designed the gallery a couple of years ago.
The exhibit spans from 1889 to 1971 focusing on Picasso’s use of bullfighting imagery combined with his mythological subjects.
Thaddaeus Ropac opened his 5th gallery on Dover Street in April at Ely House, a historical mansion, newly renovated by New York based architect Annabelle Selldorf spanning 5 floors. There are 4 separate exhibitions including Gilbert & George, “Drinking Pieces” which celebrates the first work of art the artists sold in 1972. Early Beuys drawings and sculpture are installed in the Chapel Gallery. Minimal works including Andre, Flavin, Judd, Lewitt, Ryman, Sandback, Serra and Tuttle from the Marzona Collection recently purchased by the Ropac gallery are in the Library Gallery. Oliver Beer’s stunning “New Performance and Sculpture” is installed in the Berkeley Gallery.
The trend of viewing contemporary art in castles and mansions is a far contrast to the white cube.