Exclusive: International Manhole Cover Museum loans works
The International Manhole Cover Museum must surely rank as one of the world’s most bizarre collections. It was set up by Stefano Bottoni, from Ferrara, in northern Italy, who admires them as objects. Highlights are currently on display in the town’s National Archaeological Museum (until 31 October). The courtyard of its Renaissance palazzo has rows of them, and the sheer weight of the cast iron means they can be left without too much security. On show are several rows of covers inscribed with the names of the world’s cities, often with a coat of arms, lending dignity to an object which gives access to drains and sewers.
Pain and despair courtesy of Lynch & Manson
Any collaboration between shock rocker Marilyn Manson and cult director David Lynch is a good recipe for a bad night’s sleep, and their current joint exhibition at the Kunsthalle Vienna is certainly not for the squeamish. Entitled “Genealogies of Pain” (until 25 July), the show pairs watercolours on Manson’s favourite subjects—“grief, loss, despair, self-alienation enhanced by pain, but also self-discovery through agony” as the description tells us—with a series of early short films by Lynch about “pain and its aestheticization as well as the deformation and transience of the human body”.
La froideur for Murakami at Versailles
Marie-Laure Bernadac, contemporary art curator at the Louvre, has questioned plans to open an exhibition of works by Japanese artist Murakami at the Palace of Versailles in September. "Koons [the opening show in the palace's contemporary art programme which launched in 2008] was a good choice, but I really don't see what Versailles has in common with the figurative Japanese world of Murakami. If these collaborations are too forced, it harms both parties. You must pay attention to the artists' choices," she told our sister paper Le Journal des Arts (ouch). Bernadac also revealed that US photographer Nan Goldin is set to create a body of work at the Paris museum.
Rome will burn...
News that the Colosseum in Rome would "virtually burn" in September sent The Art Newspaper into a spin. But fear not-the Roman landmark will only go up in flames as part of an installation made up of mirrors and projections by artist duo Thyra Hilden (Denmark) and Pio Diaz (Argentina). A cheeky press statement points out that the pair have "already set on fire many historical monuments around Europe".
David does skulls (thanks to Damien)
UK photographer David Bailey, known for his headline-hitting depictions of the swinging 60s, is turning his hand to a new medium with an exhibition of cast silver and bronze sculptures at the Pangolin London gallery this autumn (8 September-16 October). Devotees of David can expect to see a plethora of skull sculptures in the show (along with a new photography series) as Bailey is crazy about craniums. On the subject of skulls in art, Damien Hirst is never far away with his infamous 2007 diamond-encrusted creation (For the Love of God). And in a neat twist of fate, the show came about when Bailey met Rungwe Kingdon and Claude Koenig – directors of the Pangolin Editions foundry and Pangolin London – at Hirst’s house in Mexico.
Larry's ads on London buses
Spotted in London: double-decker buses carrying advertisements for Gagosian's latest show at its Britannia Street gallery, "Picasso: The Mediterranean Years, 1945-1962" (until 28 August). Major museums usually run ads across these famous London vehicles to promote blockbuster exhibitions - but is this the first time a commercial gallery has plumped for public transport as a platform to plug a Picasso?
Franco turns MOCA into soap set
We’ve been following the burgeoning art career of film star James Franco with some interest. First the heart-throb surprised Hollywood late last year by announcing that he would be appearing on soap opera General Hospital as avant-garde artist “Franco”, an odd career decision soon explained as a piece of “performance art” that blurs the lines "between life and art, between art and popular culture, and between representations of the self as both performative character and as non-performative self,” according to the actor. This conceptual work finally reaches its dramatic culmination this week at the Museum of Contemporary Art in LA, where his final scenes will be filmed live in the museum as a performance piece entitled “SOAP at MOCA: James Franco on General Hospital” to be aired Thursday 22 July. The press release paints a thrilling picture: “In this special episode, Franco… will be having an exhibition at MOCA Pacific Design Center, during which time Jeffrey Deitch, the new director of MOCA, and the characters from Port Charles from General Hospital will be making their West Coast debut. The character’s exhibition will include full-scale models of the locations in which he encountered mobster Jason Morgan… Franco will attempt to lure Jason and others into his art-trap. If all goes to plan, mastermind Franco will turn both Jason Morgan’s life and his own death into art, a performance to end all performances.” Grab the popcorn!
Warts (wrinkles, laughter lines) and all
Nasal hair has never been such a big hit…crowds continue to flock to the Sperone Westwater stand (E4) where Evan Penny’s startlingly life-like sculpture of Michael Short, who works for the gallery, is on show. The bald head, thick eyebrows and sprinkling of chest hair are stopping people in their tracks. An Austrian museum has bought the work so Short’s striking likeness will remain on European soil. But who, The Art Newspaper asked, has been most shocked by the piece? “My mum asked why it has more wrinkles than me,” Short quipped. For more Basel gossip, download our daily fair papers.
This is why we love The Onion, they always know how to close an article:
Area Grandmother Comes Forward As 'Banksy'
LONDON—At a press conference Tuesday, 89-year-old Rose Biggin, a grandmother from the Camden Town neighborhood of North London, announced that she was in fact the internationally renowned graffiti artist known only as Banksy. "Those drawings? Oh, yes, those are mine," said the diminutive octogenarian, who admitted to scaling buildings and climbing fences in order to put up life-sized stenciled images that satirize modern society's mores and its inherent political power structures. "It sure does help to pass the time." Biggin then returned home, where along with some of her "dearest friends," she sipped tea, sampled some nice ginger cake, and planned the necessary destruction of dominant capitalist paradigms.
Artist Rob Pruitt is one person not suffering from fair-fatigue. The happy punter, on his third visit to an art fair in 20 years, said: “It’s like a reunion! Sadie Coles’s stand (H1) was like being in a room of my friends.” The artist was also pleased with his self-portraits at Gavin Brown’s stand (N6): “Look at the one of me with a 12-inch plastic dildo in my mouth!” For more Basel gossip, download our daily fair papers.
Comic strip heroes
Everyone knows Hans Ulrich Obrist as a prolific curator and interviewer of artists, but what about as a comic strip character? His latest tête-a-tête with Bali-based artist Ashley Bickerton, subtitled “The Gold of Their Bodies: a Conversation Before Death”, has been illustrated as a graphic novel by Argentinian artist Ignacio Noe, to be published by Damien Hirst’s Other Criteria. The two comic-book heroes are pictured chatting in the seedy backstreets of an imaginary Asian megalopolis. What’s really stranger than fiction is their dialogue—while ignoring the floor show, Obrist asks: “So, your work was somehow a reaction to conceptual art?” Bickerton replies: “This work was all about being initiated and anointed and it was about a connoisseurship of that sensuality, a connoisseurship without sexuality.” For more Basel gossip, download our daily fair papers.
Anger management Messe-style
Spanish provocateur Dora Garcia’s performance in Art Public yesterday, called Insulting the Audience, 2009, was not nearly as agitating as advertised. She employed a firebrand Brechtian who got up on to his tiny plywood plinth among the throng of first-night, invite-only revellers, and (largely to deaf ears) launched into his insults of “jerks, double-dealers, money bags, chicken shits, fuck-off farts, phoney deadbeats and stupid, dumb waxwork monkeys”. All of which may or may not have been accurate, so little attention did he receive—only the rapt audience of a journalist, one man and his dog (and us). Another performance in the plaza garnered much more respect. Painter Hanspeter Hofmann turned to a local troupe of flag-wavers and a traditional Swiss band for his mini-parade, Mit Fahnen und Trompeten, 2010, highlighting the cruelty of experimenting on animals.
For more Basel gossip, download our daily fair papers.
Bye Bye Brueghel
If you want to see your old master work soar in value, get it “reworked” by the Chapman brothers—having defaced works by Goya, Hogarth and Hitler, the plucky Brit siblings have now painted over a 1607 painting by Brueghel the Younger,Calvary, the centrepiece of a new show at Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich (“Die Dada Die”, until 22 August, in collaboration with Moscow's Triumph Gallery and RS&A Ltd of London). “The price on the original painting was £220,000 and the selling price is £750,000,” said a project spokesman.
Notting Hill's blast from the past
It’s always a treat when little pockets of history are uncovered. During recent renovations at the Notting Hill Gate tube station, workers discovered just such an unexpected time capsule, when a disused passageway that was boarded up in the 1950s was opened and revealed a treasure trove of graphic design. The original modish advertisements and posters that had greeted mid-century commuters were perfectly preserved on the corridor’s walls and Mike Ashworth, the Design and Heritage Manager for London Underground, has posted a series of photos of the hidden gems on flickr. Fans of modernist graphics will have to content themselves with the snaps for now, as the tunnel they were found in is “wholly inaccessible [to the public] so please don’t ask the staff!” says Ashworth.
Giza pyramids has Ayrshire museum in stitches
A startling, Egypt-led discovery has come to light during the exhibition 'The Journey Beyond-Ancient Egypt and Prehistoric Ayrshire' (until 28 August) at the Dick Institute in Kilmarnock. The show includes ancient gems such as the mummy of Iufenamun along with Neolithic and Bronze Age weapons and tools from southwest Scotland. But it's not all about BC items as a set of three jaunty, mini knitted Giza pyramids were recently left on the steps of the Dick (no doubt inspired by the display). Does this mean that sleepy Ayrshire has tapped into the contemporary trend of yarnbombing, a guerilla campaign whereby mystery knitters leave woolly mementoes in public places?
Emin's hearty RA toast
The art world glitterati were out in force last night in London at the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition preview with luminaries such as TV presenter Alexa Chung, artist Grayson Perry and model Yasmin Le Bon in attendance. The swanky gala event was co-chaired by Tracey Emin and headline-hitting British accessory designer Anya Hindmarch. Emin, now a prestigious Royal Academician, certainly got into the swing of things at the post-bash dinner, proclaiming "Honour and Glory to the next exhibition!" as a time-honoured toast.
V&A gets its own personal detective
Art thieves watch out, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is about to get a whole lot more secure. In a surprise move, Detective Sergeant Vernon Rapley, who has headed Scotland Yard’s art and antiques unit for nine years, will be moving to the V&A. He joins the museum on 21 June, to take charge of security and visitor services. Before turning to art, Rapley investigated murder, paedophilia and child abuse at the Metropolitan Police. He really got to know the V&A in 2004, when there was a spate of thefts at major London museums. The V&A was hit three times, and 38 rooms had to be shut, many for years, while security was upgraded. Supported by the V&A, the Yard set up the London Museum Security Group. Rapley even took a turn as guest curator earlier this year, when he organised a Scotland Yard-curated display at the museum on fakes and forgeries, which spotlighted the case of the Greenhalgh family from Bolton, who created objects ranging from Egyptian antiquities to modern paintings. Sue Ridley, who has held the V&A’s security and visitor services post, is moving to become director of collection services. Rapley’s successor at Scotland Yard has not yet been appointed.
Bourgeois' monument for witches delayed
A memorial to “witches” by artist Louise Bourgeois and Swiss architect Peter Zumthor due to be installed in Vardø in June has been delayed until the autumn owing to higher-than-anticipated costs, according to project organisers. The work is part of the Norwegian National Tourist Routes scheme in which artists and architects have been commissioned to design memorials, viewing platforms and shelters. During the 1600s, Vardø was where most witches were burnt, and the memorial aims to “impart the history of the 91 victims and their cruel death”. Bourgeois’s contribution consists of a chair placed in the middle of a fire.
Do you want to be the editor of The Art Newspaper?
What did we get right? What did we get wrong? What did we miss? How would you have done it? In a new series, we invite readers to submit 250-word comments on the current print edition of The Art Newspaper (in this case, the June issue out on stands now). The best piece will be published in the following edition (July-August). Articles must be received by Monday, 21 June, and should be emailed to w.oliver [@] theartnewspaper.com