Klimt on stage
It has all the ingredients of a modern soap opera: romances with models, a passionate love affair with a life-long muse and tragic plot twists like the untimely death of his beloved brother and his second son. “Gustav Klimt—the musical”, opening in the Austrian capital on 2 September, is bound to be a hit. As the Klimt bandwagon rumbles on in the name of the artist's 150th anniversary, Vienna's Künstlerhaus has chosen to set his story to rock music and against a multimedia backdrop. Wonder how they'll act out The Kiss though?
An LA gallery story
With perhaps the best title we’ve seen in a while, Gallery 1988’s exhibition “Excuuuuuse Meeeeeeeee” is a tribute to Steve Martin, the comedic actor, writer and art collector. And even better, most of the works in the show are highly affordable prints and paintings, many as witty and wacky as the man himself. The show closes at the gallery’s Venice Beach space this weekend, so if you’ve ever wanted an artistic imagining of Martin’s famous films—from The Man With Two Brains or Little Shop of Horrors to Roxanne and LA Story—you know where to go.
New London sculpture puts art world in a lather
Visitors to Cavendish Square in London may well smell something fragrant in the air next month when the Korean artist Meekyoung Shin unveils a grand equestrian statue of the Duke of Cumberland there made not of marble or bronze, but of... soap (from 10 July). The artist will recreate the statue that occupied a plinth in the central London space from 1770 to 1868, only to be removed during the nineteenth century. As the sculpture softens in the snow and rain, Meekyoung's sweet-smelling piece should give new meaning to the term "faded grandeur".
The art of the absurd at Cornerhouse
Art and humour don't always mix so it'll be interesting to see how visitors react to Los Angeles artist Stanya Kahn's "signature blend of dark comedy, visceral characters and reluctant optimism", as the press statement says, at the Cornerhouse in Manchester (23 June-16 September). The artist dons a giant foam penis for the video piece Lookin’ Good, Feelin’ Good (2012) while two paper puppets are the protagonists of Arms Are Overrated (2012). Does Stanya get serious though? Environmental and political concerns apparently lie beneath the artist's self deprecating facade (so it's not just about performing penises).
Vivienne on Tracey
Dame Vivienne Westwood was on fine form in the Independent on Sunday last weekend, discussing her life and colourful career. Westwood, however, took a swipe at her friend Tracey Emin. "She has something every now and again, but sometimes [her work] makes you cringe, it's so... indulgent," quipped the feisty fashion icon.
Don’t buy, just bid!
Want to be a player in the art world? Jeffrey Deitch, the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, has a tip for you. At Thursday’s Art Salon talk with Josh Baer, the art adviser and publisher of the Baer Faxt newsletter, Deitch said: “I’ll give you a tip. The best way to become a player in the art world is to be an underbidder on a major work of art [at auction]. You don’t have to spend any money. Just raise your hand near one of the top bids on a Warhol or another major lot and Josh will list you in the Baer Faxt among the underbidders. Do that a few times and people will think of you as one of the big players.” Baer then chimed in: “And you’ll be sure to get a black VIP pass instead of a silver one, saving you four hours at the fair.”
Eagle-eyed readers of the Basler Zeitung may have noticed an unusual advertisement in Tuesday’s edition. It read: “Das bleibt unter uns” (“This stays between us”). It was actually a work by João Onofre, who shows with London’s Marlborough Fine Art (2.0/D13). The gallery’s director, Andrew Renton, put the finishing touch to the piece in Basel by tearing out the ad and framing it. It is now on the gallery’s stand in Art Basel, priced at £3,000. The Basler Zeitung costs SFr2.80; by that logic, Marlborough has both the most expensive (that Rothko, at $78m) and the least expensive works in the fair.
Why Pam is Jeff’s pin-up queen
The former “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson was a surprise guest at Art Basel and Jeff Koons’s book signing event at the Fondation Beyeler on Thursday night. She and Koons go way back, she told us: “His mom was showing me all my body parts that are in different paintings of his. He said to me, ‘You have to go to my show in Frankfurt because there are three or four paintings.’ It’s the ultimate compliment.” She had just arrived in Basel. “The best cure for jet lag is to go to a museum,” she wisely advised.
Forget Rorschach, some infinitely more complex psychological profiling is taking place with various responses to Washing, a small photograph made in 1972 by Tony Morgan at Thomas Dane gallery (2.1/M15). While there is no doubt that the body is of a lissom young male (in fact, the artist) in the process of some vigorous ablutions, an ambiguity arises around the head and shoulders. Those of an optimistic mien see angels’ wings sprouting from the shoulder blades, the art historically inclined see a homoerotic spin on the Odalisques of Ingres, while more melancholic souls read the head of a black dog emerging from an empty bucket. Whatever the reading, this work, along with Morgan’s hilariously repellent reverse life cycle of a beefsteak, Resurrection, 1968, on view in Art Unlimited (U27), have marked out the hitherto little-known English artist (who died in Geneva in 2004) as one of the most talked about discoveries of this year’s fair.
All the antics of a fun fair
So who says that performance art has to be durational and dull? Certainly not Los Angeles-based artist Kathryn Andrews, who delighted the Art Parcours opening crowd with an hour’s worth of international top-notch vaudeville acts staged along the banks of the Rhine. Among the line up were UK juggling duo, the Dapper Chaps, Linda the Dutch Wheel performer (above), a pair of hand balancers from Hungary and Bruce Airhead, the giant balloon maestro. All the fun of a fair, in fact.
You may have noticed that in order to enter one side of Sean Kelly’s booth (2.1/N2), you must pass through a narrow space between two stark naked people engaged in a stare down. They are recreating Marina Abramovic’s famous performance Imponderabilia (1977/2010). Although they take shifts, one of the female performers fainted yesterday afternoon, but made a quick recovery. When the piece was recreated two years ago for Abramovic’s retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, a few performers complained that they’d been fondled by museum visitors. At Art Basel, there are pre-arranged hand signals they can give to the gallery’s associate director Lauren Kelly if things get inappropriate. We spoke with one of the performers, Mike Winter, a British dancer based in Geneva. “It’s incredibly intimate,” he said. What if someone fondled him? “I’d remember what they looked like and go and get them afterwards.”
Have your say
Want to rewrite American foreign policy? Locate your inner Rumsfeld or perhaps penetrate the psyche of the current US Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta? The artist Mark Dion is offering visitors the chance to don an outfit of their choice, assume full officialdom and take up their position at the iconic lectern emblazoned with the US Department of Defense insignia. Mess Conference, 2004, on Galerie Christian Nagel’s stand (2.1/H5) provides a rack of white shirts, military fatigues, an assortment of headscarves and even aviator shades to complete either a Hawk- or Dove-ish look, with a tripod and camera set up to immortalise the whole experience. Participants can receive a jpeg of their Pentagon alter egos for a mere €40 or if you want to rerun the fantasy in the comfort of your own home, the cost of the entire piece (excluding the camera) is €65,000 excluding VAT.
Body of work
As the Design Miami/Basel fair reminds us, the convergence of art and design has given rise to new ideas about art that can also be functional. Lining one wall of Gavin Brown’s booth in Art Basel (2.1/N4) is a chorus line of 11 inflatable sex dolls, not all of them fully inflated. Some of them are slumping to the side, collapsing into the others. “It’s on reserve,” Brown says of the piece by the artist Sturtevant, then emphasises, “I’m selling it as art.” One would hope so. It’s priced at €175,000. “That,” Brown says, “would be a very expensive sex doll.”
Shrigley sets Basel a-twitter
Here’s something you probably won’t see at Art Basel any time soon: an image of a hirsute figure not unlike Public Enemy No. 1, the late terrorist Osama bin Laden, by the UK artist and japester David Shrigley with the caption: “He believed that he was doing the right thing.” Shrigley cheekily tweeted the pic to his 26,000 followers, saying: “My gallery [Stephen Friedman, 2.1/J11] decided not to show this at Basel for fear of offending Americans.” But that wasn’t the end to the artist’s mischief-making on Twitter. Shrigley then posted another audacious statement of intent, quipping: “I’m selecting more new drawings for the Basel art fair. The gallery probably isn’t going to like this one either.” And what exactly was the offending image? A picture of somebody having a poo with the caption: “Everybody likes shit.” Don’t hold back, David.
Such is Documenta’s artistic director Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev’s love of the canine species that the event has been dubbed Dogumenta, populated by such pooch-friendly pieces as Brian Jungen’s dog school (humans only permitted if escorted by their pets) and Pierre Huyghe’s installation animated by a roving white hound sporting a pink-painted paw. During the opening festivities, Ms C-B’s own faithful friend, a Maltese terrier called Darsi, was rarely far from her side, accompanying her to panel discussions and press conferences, and featuring in a photo session for Derzeit magazine. While it is not known if the curator and her canine companion are attending Art Basel, they will certainly feel at home in Nina Beier’s Art Unlimited performance Tragedy, 2011, jointly represented by three galleries: Laura Bartlett of London, Standard (Oslo) and Proyectos Monclova of Mexico City (U33). At intermittent intervals throughout the fair, a highly-trained black labrador retriever will roll over and play dead on an elaborate oriental carpet.
A Cube that is not White
Red Cube, the latest addition to England’s thriving gallery scene, is set in a telephone kiosk just across the road from Hoglands, Henry Moore’s home in Perry Green, Hertfordshire. The 1935 Giles Gilbert Scott-designed phone box was decommissioned three years ago, killed off by the mobile. Inside it hosts a mini display of postcard-size drawings by Henry Moore Foundation staff, visitors and people with disabilites from a local medical centre. Architectural historian Gavin Stamp performed the official opening on 29 May, cutting a Union Jack ribbon which also celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The best drawing in the show will win its creator a meal in the village pub, The Hoops Inn. Red Cube is open 24 hours a day, free of charge, with no high-pressure sales staff.
It's raining aluminium
If you drink a lot of canned soda, you may well savour a new interactive performance art piece by the Taiwan-born artist Chin Chih Yang launching at Queens Museum of Art in New York next month (28-29 July). As the work (Kill Me or Change) culminates, 30,000 aluminium cans contained in a net will cascade on to the artist. "By showing, quite literally, the suffocating effects of one person’s personal polluting, Yang hopes this piece will serve as a call to action for audience members to examine their habits of personal consumption," points out the stern press statement.
Turbine Hall is a dud for Daniel
Daniel Buren may well have taken over the humongous nave of the Grand Palais in Paris with his Monumenta commission (until 21 June) but don't expect the veteran French artist to repeat the feat at another gargantuan gallery just across the English Channel. "In my opinion, the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern is unusable. There has only been one intelligent intervention there: Bruce Nauman's piece [Raw Materials in 2004]. This is also because it's a terrible venue. Not all of these huge spaces are interesting," he told the French web publication Le Quotidien de l'Art.
Art in full bloom
Croatian artist Ana Tzarev is making her presence felt in London with her first show of works in the capital at the Saatchi Gallery (“Exposed”, until 16 June). More than 20 striking and ambitious works depicting flora and fauna fill the King’s Road space in the selling exhibition which has the heavyweight backing of J.P. Morgan Private Bank, the show sponsor. “I’m a gardener at heart. I capture what touches me,” says Tzarev about her large-scale, naïve paintings of flowers, inspired by indigenous plants of Africa, tropical blooms of Hawaii and Asian blossoms. Tzarev directly applies paint using a palette knife and even her fingers, “to achieve a slow build up on the canvas”, says a press statement. "Today's conceptual art can have the tendency towards being mechanical and too much of the cerebral. I think there is a hunger for more of an emotional and positive sensory experience nowadays and art will turn back towards sensuality and colour," she says. Meanwhile, Pro Yachting of Thailand helped produce the monumental fibreglass sculpture on view at the Saatchi Gallery, entitled Love. The artist and 20 yacht builders spent three months making the 50-stone, 12ft-high flower piece. Tzarev and her husband founded a successful chain of department stores in New Zealand called Chandler House. They sold the business for $10m in 1986 according to Bloomberg.