The year is coming to an end, and that means the art gallery at Eden Rock is filling up. As peak season hits down on St. Barths, the gallery becomes home to endless excitement, and it should be higher than in the past few years, as the art market bounces back from its late 2008 and early 2009 depths.
This year, the Eden Rock Gallery will be home to an exhibition called "Uncovered," running from December 22, 2010 through January 31, 2011. Hosted in partnership with the New York Academy of Art and curated by Eileen Guggenheim, Peter Drake and David Kratz, it will include 24 pieces by artists affiliated with the academy, with work by faculty and members of the Artists' Advisory Board of the Academy on the walls, too. Rosson Crow, Kurt Kauper, Natalie Frank, Alyssa Monks, Robert Feintuch, Julie Heffernan and Margaret Bowland are among the artists being featured.
When I first started writing about the art market, in the white-hot auction climate of the summer of 2007, I had the chance to interview Prof. Michael Moses of NYU. Co-founder of the Mei-Moses Index used to gauge the direction of art prices, he's pretty much the de facto source for issues at the intersection of art and investing. I'll never forget the advice he offered to my readers: start with prints of your favorite pieces, and as you can afford to, replace them with the real thing.
This is the exact concept I saw in action when I stopped by the ArtWeLove booth at the Affordable Art Fair to visit company founder Laurence Lafforgue.
Art We Love focuses on making works by high-caliber artists available to entry-level collectors. The archival pigment prints offered by the company are limited-edition reproductions of museum-caliber pieces from well-known artists who have agreed to work with Lafforgue to make the art luxury attainable to a broader constituency.
As I walked the aisles of New York's Affordable Art Fair this past weekend, hoping to meet artists who'll someday become the mainstays of the auction scene, a powerful installation stopped me dead in my tracks. Black paint dripped from a white orb, which was suspended above a pile of once-white everyday household items. A milk carton and shoe, among other things, slowly turned black, as did the map of the world upon which they rested. An entanglement of pipes spread out from the dirtying action, and a quiet man sat on the floor beneath one of them, looking content and relaxed.
So, I had to interrupt his piece.
This is how I met Kamol Akhunov, the artist responsible for "Earth Leak". Inspired by the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Akhunov's installation drives home the message that a disaster thousands of miles away can affect our daily lives, as suggested by the black paint falling upon the pile of household goods, as well as the map beneath them.
Wood has been painting and drawing since he was a child and specializes in portraiture but also does landscapes. Before becoming a musician he studied at Ealing College of Art in London. He has always continued painting and drawing often making pictures of friends, family and the musicians he has played with. His work has been exhibited around the world. Wood plans to attend the opening of the Butler Institute exhibit on September 21. The show will run through November 21.
On his website, Wood showcases images of Mick Jagger, Slash, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Al Pacino and more.
Last month I wrote about an exhibit featuring Bank of America'scontemporary art holdings in Charlotte. Should you be interested in seeing the works of another artist in the B of A holdings you'll need to travel to Kansas City, Missouri. That's where the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art will be presenting Romancing the West: Alfred Jacob Miller in the Bank of America Collection from September 25, 2010-January 9, 2011. The exhibit showcase the work of the Baltimore portraitist who in 1837 was invited on the adventure of a lifetime, tagging along with Scottish nobleman Captain William Drummond Stewart and the American Fur Company expedition on a six-month adventure to the Rocky Mountains. They trekked along the Oregon Trail to the annual gathering of the fur trade and Miller was one of the first American artists to bring the images of the American West to vivid life.
The exhibit shows 30 works on paper not seen in the public since 1964. Miler made more than 100 field sketches during the expedition, sketches that became the inspiration for at least a thousand paintings and watercolors. The six-month journey set him up for the next three decades as he received commissions for albums of watercolors and full-sized oil paintings that he produced in his studio. The works from the Bank of America Collection represent intermediary work based on his field sketches and done in preparation for the commissioned work.
"We are thrilled to share Miller's work with the general public," said Margaret C. Conrads, Samuel Sosland Senior Curator, American Art, at the Nelson-Atkins and curator of the exhibition. "Viewers will find that fact mixes with fantasy to reflect life on the frontier both as it was and as it was imagined to be."
After debuting at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art the exhibition will head to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 2011.
Classic works of art get a new spin through the eye of New York artist Devorah Sperber. Devorah Sperber: Threads of Perception will go on exhibit at the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Utah August 21-October 31, 2010. Sperber's most recent work takes famous paintings from art history like the Mona Lisa shown above. Using a computer she pixelates the images and then uses spools of thread to serve as pixels. The spool-constructed pieces are mounted inverted so that the image is viewed upside down and recognizable only when viewed through an acrylic sphere. Looking at it through the naked eye it appears as a blur of color but when viewed through the sphere it pops into focus. The Kimball Art Center will feature 13 of Sperber's pieces in the exhibit, "Threads of Perception" in the Main Gallery August 21- October 31, 2010.
The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles is using new technology to showcase a very old object. A 17th-century display cabinet from Augsburg, Germany can now be viewed from a variety of different angles thanks to augmented reality. The piece, which is embellished with various woods, gemstones, marble and other inlays, can be zoomed in to show detail and a a 3D overview shows all the cabinets many doors and drawers. It's an effective way of showing a piece like this which is full of so many intricate details. Walking by it in the museum you might not stop to marvel a tiny inlaid gold ceiling or the detailed carving of a basilisk but online you can linger over each element. It will never replace seeing the object in person but it's a fascinating use of technology. To explore the Augsburg Display Cabinet, visit www.getty.edu/collectorscabinet.
You think you've seen it all? Not a chance. Picasso may be the most researched artist of all time, even his laundry receipts have been studied, but the new exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art yields something new at every turn. "Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum of Art" showcases some 300 works, the museum's complete collection of the artist's paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, and works on paper.
The show's magic comes from its all encompassing range starting with a 1900 self-portrait of Picasso at 19 (and yes, he was a knockout) and ending with an exuberant musketeer, painted when he was 87. What's totally new and positively riveting are a series of10 videos that demonstrate how Picasso worked, reworked, and revised. Just one example is his melancholy 1901 "Woman Ironing," depicting a sad-faced woman pushing down vigorously on one of those heavy irons that had to be heated on a hot stove. The Met's technical team revealed that originally her knuckles were visible and the slope of her neck was amended. The scientific analysis also showed that there is a totally different composition beneath the final painting. One theory is that either Picasso or another artist painted the earliest version. Now, totally restored, it is a supreme example of Picasso's one time conviction that "art emanates from sadness and pain."
The Upper West Side of Manhattan was once again home to an exciting and unique art exhibition last week. 25CPW, a temporary art gallery occupying a vacant retail space on Central Park West hosted an art show for a unique group within the Metropolitan Museum of Art: the guards. It turns out that some of the people protecting the masterpieces on the other side of Central Park also like to create, and from what I saw on Thursday night, when I attended the opening, they are pretty damned good at it.
The next 25CPW event is on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 night at 6:00 PM, when the Afghan Art Auction will be held to benefit the George Dritsas Anthropos Fund. The fund was created to help refugees in transition, so do find a way to open your wallet. The money raised will also be used to help the Afghan Women Council, which seeks to assist women and children inside Afghanistan.
There's a new show at the Eden Rock Gallery on St. Barths this month ... and it represents a bit of a departure from past exhibitions. Doubtless, some considerable talent has moved through the resort's art gallery, with names such as Richard Prince not to be taken lightly. And, the relationship with the New York Academy of Art has ensured that the artists in residence have been unmatched in talent.
The latest show is not short on talent and remains consistent with the reputation the Eden Rock Gallery has defined for itself, but the artist comes from a little closer to home. Jane Matthews will be showing her work in an exhibition entitled "Between Places and People," which features simple but direct subject matter in a fluid style slightly reminiscent of Gaugin (just a hint).
Jane owns Eden Rock with her husband, David Matthews, and it's their commitment to the arts that led to the gallery and the careful selection of pieces to hang in the property's various villas (such as Villa Rockstar).
With "Between Places and People," Jane proves that she doesn't just know how to pick art – she can create it, too. The photos alone caused me to fall in love with this show.
Jinghesheng Investment Company and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea are now partners in the art market. The investment firm and the most isolated dictatorship in the world are working together to show and sell 90 paintings at art galleries in Beijing. The paintings – 60 of them oil and 30 in the traditional Korean ink style – will be rotated through the gallery and sold.
The unifying thread in this show is that all works are by artists in North Korea ... and have been approved by the DPRK's Ministry of Culture, according to exhibit director Li Xuemei. Because information doesn't flow easily across the border, the exact origins of the pieces and details of the artists are unknown, but Li says to CNN, "Ours are surely authentic artworks from DPRK."
There has been no shortage of interest in the display. Li's gallery, which is showing the works of 20 North Korean artists associated with Pyongyang museums and art institutions, sees up to 100 visitors a day on the weekends and 60 a day during the week.
The action in Tribeca on Saturday night gave me a bit more proof that the art market is looking for a bounce. I attended an art show held by local artist Ben Krell and Lindsey Nobel, who came in from Los Angeles, and the action was palpable. At last count, six pieces sold at the event, and there were many serious buyers with an eye to add emerging artists to their collections again.
Krell and Nobel have vastly different styles, but the pieces complemented each other in the loft where the event, billed as an "open studio," was held. Krell's work through several periods was on display, from the tight geometric styles he favored several years ago to the organic approach he uses today. Nobel offered pieces using several media – including photography and plastic. Works by both artists captivated the guests who crowded the venue as the evening unfolded.
Nobel's work features intricate designs connecting larger abstract shapes that are based on photographs she has taken of sculptures. The intentional result is an interconnectedness reminiscent of neural networks, linking stations of consciousness into a greater, unified presence.
Unlike his partner at the event, Krell prefer broader, sweeping themes on his canvases (which he shapes himself). His latest movement evokes feelings of creation – in the cosmic sense – with concentrations of energy yielding to calming effects.
The Tribeca art exhibition was a trip home for Krell, who painted in that particular loft back in the 1990s. He also held a show there in September 2008, shortly after the collapse of Lehman Brothers. The mood couldn't have been more different this time around. Attendees were considerably more upbeat ... and in greater number. The sheer level of participation was enough to suggest that the art market is getting ready to turn, and the fact that several collectors made purchases reinforces the notion.
Brisbane, Australia is home to an unusual art exhibition -- the type that's a welcome break from what you typically see in major museums around the world. The Queensland Art Gallery is hosting the 6th Asia-Pacific Triennial through April 2010, and for the first time, art from North Korea has a large presence. Nick Bonner of Koryo Tours is co-curator of the exhibition, which reflects three years of commissioning works.
But, if you're interested in meeting the artists, you'll be disappointed.
Originally, five artists from Mansudae Art Studio were going to attend the show and discuss their work, but the Australian government declined their visas at the last minute, according to Koryo Tours. The artists in question were Pak Hyo Song, Kang Yong Sam, O Song Gyu, Rim Ho Chol, Ri Jong and Pak Yun Chol.
A spokesman for the Australian government explained, according to The Courier Mail, "The studio reportedly produces almost all of the official artworks in North Korea, including works that clearly constitute propaganda aimed at glorifying and supporting the North Korean regime." He continued, "To make an exception in this case would have represented a relaxation of Australia's visa ban and sent an inappropriate message to the North Korean regime."
Art Basel was fun again this year. After a recession-stained climate last year led to toned down partying, collectors and dealers (and everyone else) was back in style this time around. According to the Wall Street Journal, it seemed like everyone was throwing a party this year, with the likes of Larry Gagosian and Lance Armstrong getting in on the action. And, the parties didn't suck. Hosts went all out -- with live music and other attractions -- to separate themselves from the competition. Some even tried something new, with the words "Everybody has a Damien Hirst" uttered.
Of course, there were enough celebrities in supply to ensure that every host had one to boast about. Scott Stapp, lead singer of Creed, and Russell Simmons, for example, were present at the Mondrian South Beach Hotel. Simmons is a committed collector of works by Jean-Michel Basquiat and Barbara Krueger and was in town to raise money for his charity, Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.
Sixty of last year's participants have dropped out already, and the number of satellite art fairs around Art Basel Miami Beach has fallen from 22 to 16. Layout changes are taking the shift in participation and making it benefit those who remain. Exhibit space has been increased by 20 percent, and booths in the main art galleries area will be larger, as a result. This is where most of the action is. Eighty-five percent of the dealers have come back, and the number of stands has increased from 265 to 270.
Though prices are expected to be down at the Miami fair this year, artists and galleries aren't giving their work away. Emmanuel Perrotin, the Paris gallery, is trying to move Takashi Murakami's "Warp," painted this year, for $1.5 million. The same gallery is also pushing a Duane Hanson sculpture for $425,000 and a photographic print by Paola Pivi for $33,000. Edward Tyler Nahem, a first-timer at Art Basel Miami Beach, has a room full of paintings by Alejandra Icaza, which are selling for $35,000 a piece.
The crowd in Miami is likely to be a return to past decades, in which art collectors and investors -- rather than what Todd Levin, director of Levin Art Group calls the "fashionista crowd" -- dominate the scene. Art Basel Miami Beach thus might become an art fair again.