Dance and art: poles apart?
News reaches us that the New York strip club Nite Moves has lost its battle to gain tax-exempt status by classifying its activities as “art”. The classily monikered Albany establishment had argued that pole dancing was a “dramatic or musical arts performance”, and three of the seven judges agreed, insisting that state law does not differentiate between “highbrow dance and lowbrow dance”. Perhaps the dissenting justices should round up a bevy of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker fans and herd them to Nite Moves for the evening, pursued by a reality-television crew (“The XXX Factor”, perchance), so we can all appreciate the profound artistic value of women being paid to writhe around a pole. Those of us who’ve practised said “art”—and for the amateur, this translates as clumsily humping a pole while enduring friction burns, the cruel gaze of a 20ft mirror and stultifying sexual shame—can testify that there's nothing culturally enriching about it. Whatever next? Jenna Jameson offers career-survey box set to the Met?
Call to stump up for Obama's re-election
In the final days before the next US President is elected (6 November), the art dealer Lucy Mitchell-Innes has sent out a late plea, asking for contributions to Obama's re-election campaign. “The outcome of the election is a matter of great consequence to us and to our children and the choice is a clear one,” the New York gallerist says in an email. “We all have a lot invested in the outcome.” The sale of a portfolio of prints by 19 artists, including Jasper Johns, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra, Julie Mehretu and Ellsworth Kelly, published by Gemini GEL, will directly support Obama’s campaign. The suits of works costs $28,000, the maximum limit for individual contributions.
Meanwhile, the Americans for the Arts Action Fund, a non-profit art lobbying group, has released its Congressional Arts Report Card for 2012. The report assigns members of congress a grade ranging from A to F for their support for arts funding, based on a points system decided by a number of factors, ranging from voting records to the introduction of arts-benefiting legislation. The study points out that arts spending “represents just 0.028% of non-military discretionary funding”. Support for federal arts funding was mostly split across party lines, with only one Democrat, Bob Etheridge of North Carolina, getting a grade of F. Two Republicans, however—Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Wally Herger of California—were singled out by the report for providing “leadership and support" that was "worthy of recognition”.
Those who frequent London’s Caledonian Road will be familiar with the spectacularly detailed drawings that adorn the Underground station’s information boards. Executed in marker pen, the works—made by cheery Tube employee Kim Kalan—include a slightly wonky but lovingly rendered Leonardo da Vinci and this glittery depiction of life on Mars. Her efforts have even inspired a terrible song by local musician Eoin Quiery (highlight: the moment in this wobbly YouTube footage when a bloke strides past the guitar-wielding troubadour and his mildly embarrassed subject without paying a blind bit of notice). The changing displays affectionately refer to Kim's customers as “my lovelies” and often include motivational rhyming poems of the self-help kind. Which, at 8am, is either sweet or saccharine, depending on your caffeine intake and the number of commuters who’ve already elbowed you in the head.
Views of Venice off Piccadilly
A modern archaeological discovery has been made in a high-profile restaurant off Piccadilly in central London. Thirty-five years ago, Patrick Procktor painted the walls of the upstairs room at Langan’s Brasserie with views of Venice. But just before his death in 1988, entrepreneur Peter Langan varnished over part of the Italian murals in a drunken rage. “The next day Patrick arrived to finish the murals and was appalled and threw down his paints and brushes and stormed out. The south wall, with the white ship at anchor, was left partly unfinished and later Peter had it painted over and hung some paintings," says Ian Scott, a friend of both Langan and Procktor. "We did a few tests on the varnish and found an expert who has a method of removing it all with solvents and a scalpel without damaging the pigment. The frescoes are now emerging in all their brilliant originality.” The murals will be on view from the end of November when a bar will be installed in the room adorned with the depictions of La Serenissima.
Just not game
Not everyone likes artist Adel Abdessemed's striking, monumental sculpture Coup de tête (headbutt), 2011-12, sited outside the Pompidou Centre in Paris. The 5m-high bronze sculpture depicts the 110th minute of the 2006 World Cup final, when France's football captain, Zinedine Zidane, was sent off for headbutting the Italian defender Marco Materazzi in the chest. But this not-so-sporting moment has inflamed amateur football associations across France; club presidents have subsequently written to the Pompidou president, Alain Seban, asking him to remove the piece because, they say, it "is contrary to sporting ethics". His response? Seban told Agence France Presse that he was "shocked. It's nothing more than censorship."
The legacy of Laurel & Hardy
Let's hope nobody slips up on a banana peel perusing the works in a show due to open next year at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in northern Germany: "Slapstick: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Laurel & Hardy etc. 'meet' Bruce Nauman, John Bock, Francis Alÿs etc." (22 June-3 November). Works by the high-profile artists will be shown alongside key sequences from famous silent movie classics. And what is the side-splitting premise? "Artists have long been on the heels of the great comic masters and taken advantage of the cultural codes of slapstick," says a press statement.
Eliasson, Rovner and Rhode chez vous
Fairs today are not isolated entities; they must, it seems, offer all-singing, all-dancing cultural programmes and activities for VIPs. Among the official VIP events at the Fiac fair in Paris this week (until 21 October) is an intriguing selling exhibition of high-profile contemporary works ("Chambres à part VI: Trajectoires Poétiques/Trajectoires Politiques", until 21 October) assembled by the independent curator and art advisor Laurence Dreyfus. The swanky show venue, the La Réserve hotel complex off Place du Trocadéro, houses among other works two eye-popping sculptures by Olafur Eliasson, an engrossing film by Robin Rhode (screened in the cosy confines of a bedroom) and a shimmering, golden sculpture by Aaron Young. If you pop to the loo, watch you don't step on an intricate ceramic-cum-moving image piece by Michal Rovner. The works, all for sale, come from dealers, collectors and artists.
Power plays and protests top ArtReview list
ArtReview’s annual “Power 100” list has come out and the magazine says the ranking this year is “marked by fragmentation brought about by geographical, economic and political shifts”. A woman tops the list, surprisingly for the first time ever, as Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev takes the number one slot for her work on this year’s largely successful Documenta exhibition in Kassel. Meanwhile über-dealers and perennial power list favourites, including Larry Gagosian (#2), Iwan Wirth (#4) and David Zwirner (#5) make a play for a slice of emerging economies by opening galleries in Hong Kong and Latin America. But the magazine says that “art has more than ever become a space for protest”, and it has included the female punk band Pussy Riot (#57) and socially conscious artists such Theaster Gates (#56), who has made the list for the first time and whose work is on view at White Cube until 11 November.
Scenes from the ceramic battlefield
A billowing mushroom cloud made of ceramic fragments rises from the ballroom table at the Holburne Museum in Bath. The eerie installation War & Pieces by the Dutch artist Bouke de Vries plays on the 18th-century tradition of holding a lavish banquet on the eve of battle, complete with elaborate ceramic and sugar decorations, according to the museum’s website. The disasters of war are recreated on the table itself using figures based on 1770s Derby porcelain, clashing against china soldiers equipped with cyborg prostheses taken from plastic toys, “a new and contemporary material fighting to defeat the forces of sugar and ceramic”.
Nothing to be ashamed of
You couldn’t be blamed for associating the exposed male body with Frieze: for instance, one can hardly miss the penis shots in Paul McCarthy’s photo series “Hot Dog”, dating to 1974, on the exterior wall of Hauser & Wirth’s booth (FL, C8), and who could forget Judith Bernstein’s flying penis drawings from last year? But Frieze Masters is giving the contemporary tent a run for its money where raciness is concerned. The centrepiece of London dealer Guy Stair Sainty’s Masters booth (FM, G7) is a painting by Gericault. The work, Torse d’homme, le bras gauche levé, (Man’s chest with raised left arm), 1812 (above), features a young man, torso exposed, with a piece of drapery slipping down to expose the hair in the upper quarters of the model’s nether region. When Stair Sainty got the painting, there was quite a bit more drapery, he said, but a restorer, who also works on Gericault’s paintings at the Louvre, told him it was added later, and so he removed it. Why was the drapery added? Did the painting belong to John Ruskin? “It probably made it easier to sell,” Stair Sainty guessed. These days, of course, the opposite applies.
A message to Putin
Last year, the top spot in ArtReview magazine’s “Power 100” was held by Ai Weiwei, and, although this year’s parade of art-world movers and shakers will not be announced until 18 October, we can reveal that political activism has yet again been recognised with the inclusion of the Russian feminist punk band Pussy Riot in the lineup. According to the editor of ArtReview, Mark Rappolt, the anti-Putin collective—three of whom were sentenced to two years’ imprisonment in August on charges of hooliganism and religious hatred—are positioned “somewhere in the middle” of the list. “They have made a powerful contribution to the issues of free speech and art, and this persuaded the panel to include them, even though they are not strictly speaking artists,” he reveals. Ai’s selection for the 2011 list was greeted by a furious outburst from the Chinese government, which condemned the magazine’s “political bias and perspective”. Let’s see if Pussy Riot’s presence in the “Power” pantheon provokes any comment from President Putin, who has stated that the imprisoned trio, who are appealing, “got what they asked for”.
Yes, we have fresh papayas
Eagle-eyed fair-goers will notice that the papaya flavour at the stand of La Grotta Ices, back by Gail’s cafe, is not just called papaya. It’s called Doig Papaya, and, yes, those papayas come from Peter Doig. The fiancé of the proprietor of La Grotta Ices, Kitty Travers, happens to be a film-maker. One of his films was screened recently at the cinema club Doig runs in Trinidad. According to Travers, her fiancé “brought back the biggest papayas I’ve ever seen”. Apparently, the fruit grows abundantly on Doig’s property. So, for a taste of Doig—if you can’t afford the millions of pounds it would set you back for a painting—spend just a few on a delicious frozen treat.
Two fairs, one nation
Just as the select throng began to thin at Frieze Masters yesterday evening (9 October), dealers were enlivened by the arrival of Ed Miliband, the Labour Party leader, who found time to pop down from his nearby Dartmouth Park home. The galleries Miliband visited included Pace (D1), Lisson (E4, left) and Gmurzynska (B11). The night before keen Labour party supporter Anish Kapoor got the ultimate endorsement when the Labour leader turned up for a preview of his exhibition at Lisson Gallery in west London. Miliband stayed on for the dinner to celebrate 30 years of Kapoor’s association with the gallery.
Rob dances the glitter bug
Yesterday, the artist Rob Pruitt fulfilled a decades long dream—he got Martha Stewart’s autograph. The lifestyle guru was one of the first to arrive at the Pavilion of Art and Design yesterday morning, and Pruitt happened to be sitting in the booth of the Luxembourg & Dayan gallery, where his glitter-encrusted panda paintings are on display. Stewart, he said with pride, “complimented me on my glitter technique. She said it was amazing and she has a line of glitter.” He has collected autographs for more than 30 years; he has more than 400, and just published a book of them. Two hundred of his autographs, known as “The Signature Series”, go on display this week at Luxembourg & Dayan’s space in London. He was showing off the Stewart signature-bearing canvas to PAD-goers yesterday, including to the Greek collector Dakis Joannou. “I’ve been waiting 20 years to get the signatures of Jasper Johns and Stewart,” he said. “I got Jasper’s recently, too. So now I need a new goal.”
Live from the red carpet
Tonight, the Royal Academy of Arts will auction 40 works donated by academicians—among them Allen Jones’s sculpture Enchantresse, 2007, a bronze and leather goddess kitted out in turquoise bodysuit and high-heeled ankle boots, which is expected to fetch £60,000 to £80,000—as a fundraising effort for its expansion, in a live auction called “RA Now”. Last night, the institution held a viewing for the event, complete with red carpet and string quartet. We asked a few academicians, what exactly is the RA now, as opposed to... back then? “One feels the RA is in its moment,” said the artist Richard Wilson. “It’s vibrant and energetic, there’s lots of new blood. And you feel every RA is global now, having shows around the world.” Recently appointed academicians like Tracey Emin certainly fit that description. Christopher Le Brun, the current president, said “it’s arguably stronger now than in 1768”, at its beginnings. But no matter how “now” it bills itself, the RA will always be different from contemporary art. Grayson Perry, resplendent in a midnight blue cocktail dress and sequined bustier, declared: “It’s a glorious anachronism.”
Liam Gillick plays leading man
Liam Gillick, the Turner Prize nominated British artist, can add a new role to his CV--lead actor. Gillick has been tapped to star in the UK writer-director Joanna Hogg’s as-yet-untitled third production, which has started filming in West London. The conceptual artist is taking a lead role alongside fellow film newcomer Viv Albertine, the former guitarist for the all-female punk band The Slits, and the supporting cast will include long-time Hogg collaborator Tom Hiddleston, who appeared in The Avengers and War Horse. Hogg is keeping details about the plot under wraps, but she says in a press release that: “I continue to be fascinated by the blurred line between the comic and the horrendous--but depicting this in an ordinary, everyday context which is closer to home, and therefore more terrifying.” Sounds like Gillick will be earning his acting chops. Break a leg Liam!
Shrigley takes to the stage
The mischief-making artist David Shrigley is moving into performance art. An exhibition at the Cornerhouse in Manchester, entitled "How Are You Feeling?", provides art therapy for visitors who can participate in a "never-ending" play called Self-portrait, acted out on a two-tiered stage (drawings, paintings and sculpture are also included). Shrigley says: "I feel a strong bond with the people from Manchester. I may have lived here in a former life. I think the people of Manchester are very exotic and interesting and I am excited to be amongst them.” Shrigley's show opens on Saturday (6 October-6 January 2013).
Heathrow welcomes a post-Olympic arrival
A sculpture from the London Olympics Village has found a temporary new home at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5. The Diving Girl, 2012, by the Johannesburg-born artist Jill Berelowitz will be splashing down in the terminal's Expo Gallery tomorrow evening. Although the 3.5m-high bronze sculpture will be a permanent fixture at Heathrow "for the foreseeable future", according to a spokeswoman, the work is also for sale, number three of nine editions, with a price tag of £35,000. The fate of other works created for the Games, including large-scale works by Marc Quinn and Damien Hirst, remains a mystery.