Art update

London: Frieze Week, Paris: Basquiat/Schiele, Picasso – October 2018

On our way to view the Renzo Piano exhibition, “The Art of Making Buildings” at The Royal Academy, we stumbled upon a fascinating exhibition, “The Secret To A Good Life” The Artist “Bob and Roberta Smith”, a pseudonym for the artist Patrick Brill,  “explores the sometimes strained relationships between women artists and the Royal Academy, with a particular look at the experience of his mother, Deirdre Borlase (1925-2018).

“The Art of Making Buildings” was closely curated with the architect himself. Over 100 projects are on display as seen on the tables recreating Piano’s studio throughout the gallery. The Pompidou Museum in Paris, dating from 1977 was one of his first large-scale projects.  I recall visiting the Pompidou the year it opened and enjoying the “free plan”, much to the critic’s objections. Piano’s other achievements include the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, the Shard in London, Osaka Kansai Airport Terminal, the New York Times Building, the addition to the Art Institute of Chicago, the Morgan Library extension, the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas and most recently the Whitney Museum of American Art.

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“Space Shifters” in the newly renovated Hayward Gallery includes twenty sculptures and installations that explore perception and space, spanning a period of around 50 years. My favorites include; Anish Kapoor’s “Sky Mirror, Blue, Jeppe Hein’s “360 Illusion V, Alicja Kwade’s “WeltenLinie” (world line). The viewer is put off-guard and challenged to look at the world with newfound curiosity while investigating the works that are destabilizing.


Musée D’Orsay, Paris. Photo courtesy of the Author.

After arriving in Paris we headed directly to the Musée d’Orsay to view the Picasso “Bleu et Rose” exhibition. This is a collaboration between the Musée D’Orsay and the Musée National Picasso-Paris and provides a fresh perspective of his work between 1900 and 1906.  Picasso arrived in Paris at the Gare d’Orsay in 1900 as a very self-assured 18-year-old young man. In the first four years, he divided his time between Barcelona and Paris. Ambroise Vollard, the celebrated gallerist gave him his first show in 1901 which was the beginning of Picasso’s oeuvres documenting café and street life. These subjects were deemed unacceptable at the time. Among the works of the Blue period 1900-1904, are “Yo Picasso”, 1901, which sold for $47.9 million at Sotheby’s in 1989. A failed love affair of his friend Casagemas, resulted in his suicide that year and led to Picasso’s depression after returning from Spain. During this time he worked out of Casagemas’ studio to pay homage to his friend, as seen in “La Muerte de Casagemas”, 1901. The viewer explores the depths of Picasso’s emotional state during his Blue period.


Acrobate et jeune Arelequin by Pablo Picasso. Photo courtesy of the Author.

In 1904, Picasso’s subjects and style changed after he established himself in his new studio in Montmartre. His palette toward rose reflects his transition to a more sensitive approach to women including his lover Madeleine. “Little Girl with a Flower Basket”, 1905 illustrates a softer style than the Blue period. This work from the Collection of David and Peggy Rockefeller was sold in May of 2018  for $115 million at Christie’s to the Nahmad family.


“Yo, Picasso” by Pablo Picasso, 1901. Photo courtesy of the Author.

It’s truly astounding to witness Picasso’s genius at this tender age which sets the stage for “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” in 1907 and the almost seven decades to follow.


Untitled by Jean Michael Basquiat, 1981. Photo courtesy of Author.

The opening of the “Jean-Michel Basquiat and Egon Schiele” exhibition at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, designed by Frank Gehry, in the Bois de Boulogne was curated by Dieter Buchhart and his wife Anna Karina Hofbauer.

The exhibition of Basquiat’s works span through four floors of the foundation. The first gallery confronts the viewer with three large paintings of heads. According to Dieter Buchhart “This is the first time that these three master paintings will be together in the same exhibition in the same room.” These powerful paintings set the tone for the rest of the exhibition.

Two of these paintings belong to the Broad Art Foundation and the third to Yusaku Maezawa who paid $110.5 million in May of 2017 at Sotheby’s.

It was extraordinary to see the wall of heads from the 1990 exhibition at the Robert Miller Gallery in New York. I was fortunate to attend that opening 28 years ago. This is the first time this group of striking drawings has been shown in unison since Basquiat’s first major drawing exhibition with Miller.


Basquait heads from Robert Miller Gallery’s 1990 exhibition. Photo courtesy of Author.

It was a rare opportunity to see the polyptych “Grillo, 1984 from the Fondation Louis Vuitton collection on view.


Grillo by Jean Michael Basquiat, 1984. Photo courtesy of the Author.

The Egon Schiele exhibition which is the first in 25 years in Paris includes 100 works from mostly private collections shown in a chronological order. Both artists works challenged their times and their lives ended early and tragically. It is an opportune moment for Schiele’s work to be re-examined in the current limelight of Basquiat.

At the Frieze Art Fair in London, the trend to feature women artists continued. The new section “Social Work” focused on eight  presentations by women artists whose work emerged in response to social and political issues in the 1980’s and 1990’s including Faith Ringgold, Helen Chadwick  and Nancy Spero.

Among the 160 galleries, a few of my favorite works included a recent small painting by Hurvin Anderson at Michael Werner gallery and David Shrigley’s’ neon “Distractions” at Stephen Friedman Gallery.

Gagosian gallery at Frieze Masters was awarded Vetter’s Choice for the best booth. It featured a historical selection of paintings, drawings, lithographs, and photographs works by “Man Ray”, whose estate the gallery now represents.

The Baselitz paintings and Tom Sach’s “Swiss Passport Office” at Ropac, “Alabaster” sculpture at Ordovas, Kiki Smith at Timothy Taylor, Urs Fischer at Gagosian, “Lord Duveen, My Pictures Never Look So Marvelloys as When You Are Here” at Levy Gorvy, Kenny Schachter at Simon Lee, Kerry James Marshall at Zwirner were some of the highlights in the galleries.


Tom Sachs Swiss Passport Institute by Tom Sachs. Photo courtesy of the Author.

As soon as the last lot in Sotheby’s evening sale, Banksy’s “Girl with Balloon” was auctioned off for $1.4 million, it shredded half of itself before the stunned audience. Later “Going going gone” appeared on Banky’s Instagram. Sotheby’s announced that the work has been retitled by Banksy “Love is In the Bin” and the purchaser has agreed to acquire the new work at the same price.





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