Hail Dolly, a true icon
The UK went Dolly Parton crazy at the weekend when the queen of Country performed her biggest hits at the Glastonbury festival. But the buxom blonde singer is also making waves in Florence courtesy of Francesco Vezzoli who has turned Parton into a 16th-century beauty. The maverick Italian artist has amalgamated more than 30 of his works in to the collections of the Museo Bardini, Museo di Casa Martelli and the Museo Bellini ("Vezzoli Primavera Estate", until 20 July). "A series of Vezzoli’s works, including some new pieces created specifically for this project, will infiltrate each museum, as if they were 'impertinent intruders', stimulating the viewer to make comparisons with the existing collections," a press statement says. "There is The Birth of Venus by Botticelli with Richard Gere instead of the Venus, and the courtesan by Palma Vecchio [A Blonde Woman, around 1520], now with the face of Dolly Parton," Vezzoli says. "In the past [classic works] may have been perceived as decorative objects, religious instruments or just sensual images for their own sake.Today, these works are out of reach on an emotional level; I am just trying to reconnect."
On your bike
If you like art and bikes, you were in luck last weekend. Spoke, billed as a new "cycling themed design and illustration event", took place (28 June) in the CLF Art Cafe (Bussey Building) in Peckham, south London. This gathering of cyclists, design enthusiasts and 25 artists—including Mr Baker, David Sparshott, Eliza Southwood and Catherine Pape—embraced "everyone’s favourite two-wheeled mode of transport", the organisers say. Spoke events included a special screen printing workshop run by Sonsoles Print Studio and an illustration competition overseen by London Cycling Campaign. For information, go to: www.spokeldn.com
“Erik van Lieshout’s work takes as its themes sex, violence, ‘high art’ and its institutions, and commercial culture.” The Manifesta website left out cats. The Dutch artist's project for the controversial tenth edition of the roving European biennial, opening tomorrow in St Petersburg, riffs off a feline quirk in the history of the State Hermitage Museum. Manifesta’s grand main venue, celebrating its 250th birthday this year, has harboured an underground colony of cats since the time of Empress Elizabeth (in 1745 she issued a decree enlisting their rat-catching services for the Moscow court). Though banned from the galleries, the four score moggies-in-residence have won new fans at the annual spring festival inaugurated in 2009. Their following is set to swell as Van Lieshout’s 20-minute video and tunnel of Xeroxed kitties The Basement—the fruit of six months’ close observation at feline HQ—pays them homage until 31 October.
Never on a Sunday
It seems there is such a thing as being too popular. Frieze London has shifted its dates this year, so the fair will from Tuesday to Saturday, rather than in previous years when it was held on Wednesday to Sunday. The fair's co-director Matthew Slotover says “we are frontloading the fair this year”, which comes as a response to dealers complaining about the weekend attracting too many visitors. “We have been trying to limit the number of tickets sold,” he adds. Tuesday 14 October will now be the preview day, with the fair opening to the public on 15-18 October, coinciding with the dates for its sister fair, Frieze Masters.
I walk the line
British artist Michael Craig-Martin and Tate director Nicholas Serota were on hand Thursday for the unveiling of the UK capital’s latest mural, which incorporates Matisse-inspired collages made by London schoolchildren. The tile mural, which decorates a pedestrian subway leading to the new campus of the Bow School in East London, is part of a larger initiative to bring public art to the area.
The project, entitled A Curious Line, is a collaboration between the borough, the local charity Bow Arts, the design studio make:good and Bank of America Merrill Lynch—the global sponsor of the exhibition “Matisse: the Cut-Outs”, which closes at Tate Modern on 7 September and is due to open in October at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Students visited the show and attended workshops at the Tate to learn more about Modern art and Matisse’s practice in the months leading up to the unveiling. The mural has been designed by Amanda Wayne from make:good.
“Tate believes art is essential to the vitality of a community,” says Serota. “We are delighted to have been a part of this public art project in Bow and to have introduced Matisse to a new group of young people. We are pleased that the underpass inspired by Matisse will be a part of the Bow local community now and in the future.”
Public art veteran Craig-Martin sees the project as “a great example of how all the partners have come together to regenerate the local area, through a public art project.”
You can’t always rent what you want
The 70,000 fans that filled the Circus Maximus for the Rolling Stones’ three-hour concert last weekend may have got Satisfaction, but it seems the city of Rome was distinctly short-changed. After fielding criticism from the archaeological superintendency back in March for renting out the 2,000-year-old arena for the event, the mayor Ignazio Marino has come under fire again for the paltry €8,000 asked of the organisers D’Alessandro & Galli. Maybe “a few zeros fell off along the way”, Giovanni Puglisi, the president of Unesco’s Italian Commission, suggests in Corriere della Sera. “The figure should have been at least €800,000.” An undaunted Marino announced that around 60,000 foreigners thronged the Italian capital especially for the event, spending an estimated €25m on hotels, restaurants, taxis and gelato. And luckily for the municipality, it fell to D’Alessandro & Galli to pay for the epic clean-up operation the day after.
An exhibition fit for a Queen
Art has long been in the service of royalty, but how will the new Spanish monarchs serve their nation’s art? In her first solo official act, Queen Letizia of Spain opened an exhibition on Monday at the Museo Nacional del Prado about El Greco and his influence on modern painting, one of a slew of exhibitions organised for the 400th anniversary of the Old Master’s death. But it's still not clear if the former television news reporter looks ready to follow her mother-in-law Queen Sofia’s footsteps as an ever-present supporter of Spain’s cultural events, or forge a new path in royal patronage of the arts.
Food (and art) for thought
The UK chef and restaurateur Mark Hix is not just taken with British seasonal food but is also very keen on British contemporary art. Damien Hirst's Cock and Bull, 2012, a Hereford cow and cockerel preserved in formaldehyde, dominates Hix's Tramshed venue in London's East End, while his latest restaurant, which launches late July, continues this arty tradition. Housed in a former Victorian metal factory near Tate Modern, the new space—called Hixter Bankside—will be adorned with neon signage courtesy of Tracey Emin (who else?). Mat Collishaw, Gary Webb, Henry Hudson, Tim Noble & Sue Webster, Rob & Nick Carter, and Pauline Amos are among the other artists commissioned to make works for the new gastronomic hot spot.
Felix Dennis's Heroes & Villains
The maverick publishing millionaire Felix Dennis died yesterday (22 June) at the age of 67. The co-founder of the 1960s counterculture magazine Oz is credited with being the first person to say the C-word on British television, but the late UK-born billionaire was also an art buff. In 1994, he began commissioning what he described as the UK’s largest collection of original figurative bronze sculpture, The Garden of Heroes & Villains, which sprawls across his Dorsington estate in Warwickshire. Van Gogh, Darwin, Churchill, Einstein and Captain Cook are among the depicted luminaries, as well as Stephen Hawking, Dorothy Parker and Bob Dylan. There is even a piece entitled Josephine Baker's Belly Button, by Ian Rank-Broadley, among the eye-catching works.
Looking back at looking forward
What do a servant’s speech on anticipation in the film “Gosford Park”, a Chilean copper mine in a desolate landscape and a 1969 lecture series at the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum have in common? All factored in to the artist Pablo Helguera’s thoughtful performance piece “On the Future of Art” on 18 June at the New York museum, named for the lecture series and part of the exhibition “Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today” (ends on 1 October). The museum’s auditorium was haunted by ghosts from the past anticipating the future as seven performers brought the voices of participants in the original “On the Future of Art” back to life, their eerily relevant commentary interspersed with Helguera—in the role of Pablo Helguera—discussing the Chuquicamata mine owned by the Guggenheim family, how the Spanish translation of “On the Future of Art” inspired him as a teen and his interaction with the late Guggenheim archivist and artist Ward Jackson. At one point, directly addressing an imagined audience from 18 June, 2059 into a video camera, Helguera provoked amused laughter from the live 18 June, 2014 audience—but the existential sentiment that we are the future’s past was palpable.
The gritty Basel dockside seems an unlikely location for an exhibition of vintage designer furniture and a special sculpture commission from one of Switzerland’s most beloved shoe designers, but a disused boat factory set amidst the rain tracks and loading cranes of the international harbour is in fact an appropriate site for Bally shoes to exhibit items from their collection of furniture by Pierre Jeanneret, Swiss designer cousin of Le Corbusier and to present it in the context of a radical post war housing project drawn up by Jeanneret and Jean Prouvé. The designer duo’s utopian plan was to provide easy to assemble, prefabricated housing for a devastated Europe and the show contains an original prototype metallic skeleton as well as a newly commissioned sculpture from French artist duo Kolkoz which takes the form of a toy kit style sheet of assembly-ready parts which is flamboyantly displayed dangling over the harbour on the gantry of a crane. One of these prototype houses will fully assembled at Art Basel Miami later this year.
You want a piece of me?
Performance artist Anna Poetter is on a mission at Art Basel: to find investors who, she says, can “buy bits” of her. “I’m on a two-month pilgrimage to gain redemption and to feel the presence of money in my life,” said Poetter with a cryptic flourish. The artist indeed turned heads at the fair with her elaborate outfit and tattoos (“Ich bin Kunst”—I am Art—is inscribed on her back). But her efforts appear, for now, to be in vain. Asked if any investors had stumped up, Poetter admitted out that she has, as yet, failed to find any backers.
Pain in the wrist
How to access the hottest parties and gain entry to the VVIP preview was not the most pressing problem at Art Basel this year. For art buffs lucky enough to see the Art Basel show of performance art “|14 Rooms”, the most complex conundrum was how to remove the wristband fitted upon entry, which remained clasped to countless visitors’ arms (a dealer even said she’d had to shower several times wearing the resilient band since it was proving impossible to dislodge). One quick-thinking fairgoer was seen brandishing the secret weapon to bare wrist freedom, using her cigarette lighter to relieve several art advisors and curators of their stubborn admission tags.
In Roman Ondák’s swap, 2011 at 14 Rooms, James Knox, the managing director of The Art Newspaper, was talked into swopping a £20 Scottish note for €20 making a loss on the deal. Ondák’s attempts to increase the sum by even a few Swiss francs met with nothing but headshaking as millionaire collectors worked out the rate exchange on their iPhones. Ondák explained that the cash was destined for a needy artist—that is if he could find one. “Although there are not many at Art Basel obviously,” he said looking round the room at the well-heeled, but tight fisted VIPs. At this point, Knox decided to increase the amount by throwing in the promise that the artist in receipt of the cash would also get a mention in The Art newspaper gossip column. “Our gossip page is always a bit of a performance”, Knox explained, giving the deadline of Wednesday 6.00pm. On the dot, the publishing man received an email from the sculptor, Dennis Reinmüller, original from Kiel, Germany, but now fittingly working in Glasgow. So, what would he do with the unexpected pocket money? “I will probably spend the £20 on buying some fleece for a piece I'm currently about to finish off,” the artist said, “I hope you think it's well invested!”
There was some nail biting in the upper echelons of Audemars Piguet when it transpired that the bespoke Art Basel dinner commissioned by the deluxe Swiss watch manufacturers from the Michelin-starred Costa Brava restaurant El Celler de Can Roca—voted best in restaurant in the world in 2013—coincided with the already beleaguered Spanish team’s World Cup match against Chile. Anxious to accommodate the two Roca brothers, who had been flown in especially to create an “exclusive gastronmic experience”, and fearful of the fallout if things did not go well, Audemars Piguet CEO Francois-Henry Bennahmias arranged for a television to be installed in the kitchen, and became increasingly anxious as Chile went from strength to strength throughout the evening. However, his fears were unfounded as the staunchly Catalan Roca brothers appeared wreathed in smiles to take their bow at the end of the evening, and seemed positively delighted with both the reception of their epic dinner as well as the rout of the Spanish team.
The bare Minimalism
When the crowds gathered on Thursday at the entrance of Art Basel, most fair-goers were jostling to see a naked woman rather than the art on show. The throng was keen to catch a glimpse of the Swiss performance artist Milo Moiré (below), who stood starkers in the Messeplatz with the words “bra”, “shirt” and “panties” daubed across her body. Moiré has been in the limelight before (she squeezed paint-filled eggs out of her vagina to create a painting outside the Art Cologne fair in April). But Art Basel stalwarts appeared unimpressed by her antics. “I hope she doesn’t catch herself on any hard edges at the fair,” said one visitor. “She’d better look out for any Donald Judds.”
Give good face
We all know that the art world is not averse to a little, ahem, facial enhancement, and now busy fair-goers can commission a flattering likeness as well as some instant nip, tuck and lift, all for a mere €5. The pain-free treatment comes courtesy of Face-o-Mat, an “analogue portrait machine” that comes with adjustable settings ranging from “natural” to “facelift”, “black” to “colour” and “calm” to “wild”. This lo-fi Photoshop is the vision of the Stockholm-based, Swiss Design Award-winning Tobias Gutmann, who describes himself as an “illustrator, storyteller, artist and sometimes graphic designer—but mostly a nice guy”. Kind heart aside, Gutmann reveals that “wild” and “facelift” are the most popular settings with the Art Basel crowd. Just imagine the shock on our faces.
Playing it cool
Rob Pruitt’s trio of Refrigerator Monsters (above) on Gavin Brown’s stand not only form an unorthodox portrait of a Montreal-based collecting family, they also double up as a handy repository for the gallery’s in-fair refreshments. Curatorial considerations still apparently apply to the contents of the iceboxes, which have been carefully, if a little stereotypically, allocated between the three. The “father” fridge houses the gallery’s stash of beer and vodka, the “mother” contains plenty of ice cream and sweets, and the little “baby” fridge—which sports an impressive moustache—has a selection of fruit and vegetables. Someone just keep an eye out for that greedy cow Goldilocks.
Who knew the regulations for safeguarding tropical fish in Switzerland were so complex? The artist David Brooks has included five species of wild fish, caught in five undisclosed regions of the Amazon Basin, in his Lonely Loricariidae piece at Art Basel. Les poissons are being supervised by Patrick, a Swiss fish-husbandry expert. “You have to have a fish-husbandry expert on hand from this region, not a French or German specialist,” explains Matthew Dipple of New York’s American Contemporary gallery. Well, obviously.
No one’s idea of a picnic
While strolling through the public art installations in Parcours this week, spare a thought for Johannes Ernst, an artist’s assistant who certainly drew the short straw when he was put in charge of Darren Bader’s piece The Gardeners in Paradise, in the Bürgerliches Waisenhaus orphanage and youth centre. Along with a leaf blower that puffs out air from an open window and a lawn mower that stirs the contents of a giant teacup, Bader’s piece also involves a grass trimmer that noxiously and messily chops up a car boot loaded with increasingly rancid spaghetti alla bottarga. For the less gastronomically aware, the main ingredient of this pasta dish is salted fish roe, which was chosen by the artist to match the vehicle’s leather upholstery, but with little consideration for the consequences of three days of exposure to the Swiss sunshine.
It’s always the quiet ones
Perhaps it was the raunchy works on show that prompted two guests at the breakfast viewing for the Schaulager’s Paul Chan exhibition to reveal that, according to their experience, it is the seemingly staid Art Basel, rather than its party-centric Miami Beach sister, that triggers the most outrageously libidinous behaviour. “You’re on the stand looking out; it’s such a good-looking crowd and people get completely over-excited,” declares the dashing Rome-based dealer and Michael Fassbender lookalike Lorcan O’Neill. “You can almost smell the pheromones in the Kunsthalle bar after midnight.” Chris Kneale, the director of Martinspeed art handlers, agrees. “Yes, everyone scores in Basel. When my guys get back home, there’s a definite surge in penicillin shares,” he says.
As is evinced by his daily survey in our daily fair papers, the artist who goes by the name of Bob and Roberta Smith has been eliciting some impressive responses from the great and the good for his Art Party Questionnaire. However, Bob & Rob’s dedication to the cause of art education is not restricted to the upper echelons. His residency in Basel has sent him down to the edge of the Rhine to ask local swimmers (such as Franz and Kurt, shown below with the artist) if they were taught art at school and if they think studying art is valuable. The response from all the waterborne Basellanders canvassed so far has been a resounding “yes”.
All was going splendidly at Tina Brown’s exclusive, Credit Suisse-sponsored conversation with Matthew Barney (above) at the Kunstmuseum, until the effusive media doyenne asked the famously idiosyncratic artist—whose epic work “River of Fundament” makes its Swiss debut at Theater Basel this week—whether there was any artistic material that he was “particularly dying to work with”. As the silence that greeted this seemingly innocuous question stretched from seconds into excruciating minutes, there was a palpable frisson of unease among the elite audience, which included Eli Broad, Dasha Zhukova, Klaus Biesenbach and Jacques Herzog. Even the normally unfazeable Ms Brown looked a bit rattled. The general disquiet was not greatly alleviated when Barney brought his heavily pregnant pause to an end with a single word: “Radiation.” Will Geiger counters now become the next must-have art accessory?
Hell on wheels
The New York-based collector Adam Lindemann can often be seen zipping around art fairs, making his presence felt from Frieze to Fiac. In a bit of bad timing for Art Basel, an accident in Alaska has left Lindemann with a broken foot—but this is no setback for hardy Adam, who is zooming around the fair on a fetching three-wheel scooter. His tip-top tricycle is proving invaluable in clearing a way through the fair throng, and as Lindemann happily points out, “I only stop for people I really want to talk to”.
Next stop, Super Bowl
We may all be obsessed with the World Cup, but the presence of Corey Stollmeyer, star defender for the Basel Gladiators, on the stand of Air De Paris provides a conspicuous reminder that American-style football is also much appreciated by the good burghers of Basel. The strapping Mr Stollmeyer is currently taking some time off from his sport to offer his services as a work of art for “personnage à ré-activer”, an ongoing project by the Paris-based artist Pierre Joseph, in which he transports athletes off the field of play and into an art gallery, to immortalise them in a series of large-scale, lavishly coloured photographs.
Those hurrying to the preview yesterday may have noticed the derelict figures (below) huddled on pavements and crouching in doorways in the vicinity of the Messeplatz. Contrary to their abject appearance, these unfortunate individuals were also sporting designer accessories and high-end jewellery—one was even using a Chanel carton as a collecting box. It turned out that this was an installation of mannequins created by the French-Moroccan artist Majida Khattari, with the aim of providing what she describes “a reality call” within the “closed sphere” of Art Basel. However, repeated attempts by passersby to pocket some of the choicer items adorning these pitiable personages would suggest that the baser aspects of the real world are alive and well, even (or perhaps especially?) within the lofty environs of the art world.
If your behaviour was a little less than seemly in the vicinity of Esther Schipper’s stand on Art Basel’s preview day, then beware: you may find yourself chronicled as part of L’Ecrivain Public, a work by Pierre Huyghe, for which he commissioned a writer to sit in the booth and record the comings and goings of the first day of the fair. It was easy to overlook the innocuous-looking fellow typing away at a desk in a corner, but he was Daniel Falb, a Berlin-based poet, philosopher and professional people-watcher. His observations are now displayed, page by page for all to read, on a wall of the stand. Any VVIPs hoping to hide their haggling from further scrutiny could snatch up the piece for €130,000—if it hasn’t been bought already.
The clothes show
You’d think that fair-goers would be too busy striding the aisles and snapping up art to take part in time-consuming participatory performances, but there has been no shortage of eager volunteers prepared to pitch in to “Justified Beliefs”, Christian Falsnaes’s four-channel audio installation and live work on PSM Gallery’s stand in the Statements section of Art Basel. For the piece, two visitors put on headphones and join a pair of performers in following whatever instructions the artist feeds down their ears. This can involve hugging, cheering, smiling—and even getting naked. One intrepid lady stripped off within the first hour of the fair’s opening, proving that it isn’t just the power of Mammon that gets some people motivated.
The Pen is mightier than the smartphone
Along with the announcement of a 12 December opening date and a new name, the revamped Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York has unveiled its own innovative design to radically change the museum experience—and perhaps curb smartphone use in the galleries. Each visitor will be loaned Cooper Hewitt’s Pen, a small device with an onboard memory and digital stylus comparable in size and shape to its low-tech namesake. The Pen (with a capital P) will be used to grab information from object labels and pull it up on high-resolution interactive tables placed throughout the galleries, where visitors can learn more about the objects, manipulate them and create their own designs. In the “Immersion Room”, for instance, visitors will be able to draw wall-covering patterns and project them on full-scale screens. Afterwards, visitors can use their ticket number on the museum’s site to access and share the objects they’ve “collected” and designed and can add to their digital collections each visit. There is no word for the moment on how the museum plans to keep these small, nifty and undoubtedly very dear Pens from being snagged for visitors’ personal collections in the 3-D world.
Those boys have some balls
You don’t often see a double-ended dildo lovingly made from ebony at a design fair. But you can handle such titillating treats at Design Miami/Basel this year, courtesy of the Haas brothers, a Los Angeles-based design duo who are showing with the gallery R & Company. Siblings Nikolai and Simon have also created a touchy-feely vagina in leather that incorporates buffalo hair as a pubic bush, and a ball sack that can be fondled at leisure. These saucy objects, on show in a specially designed boudoir flanked by two giant illuminated phalluses, reflect the brothers’ “Utopian desire for sexual liberty” (the Haas boys have drawn up their own manifesto for hooking up “without shame or guilt”). This “sex emporium” even turns out to be a family affair—a certain Haas Senior, a trained craftsman, carved the ebony dildo. “Our dad was super into it. He’s a real cool dude,” Simon Haas says. And where do they expect the $650,000 installation to end up? “In a Swiss collector’s castle, probably,” he says.
Watch your step
Visitors striding through Liste have been disconcerted to realise that they were trampling on more than 2,000 shimmering photographic images of a particularly pert naked male backside, emblazoned with tattoos of an artist’s palette, a broken heart and a sack of dollars. The piece (above) is by the LA-based artist Carter Mull, who reveals that each image is a still from a video of the porn star Ryan Driller, and that the underfoot display is not a judgement on Mr Driller’s chosen profession, but simply a way to experience a kinetic image in another dimension.
Kiss and make sales
All artists expect their gallerists to perform for them at Art Basel, but few take this as literally as Tino Sehgal, who has persuaded directors of all three of his galleries to perform his piece This Is Competition in
the performance marathon that is “14 Rooms”. The artist isn’t making life easy for his cohorts, who must describe and sell Sehgal’s work in a continuous verbal relay, only speaking a single word at a time. True to the work’s title, collaboration can swiftly tip into competition—or, in the case of Marian Goodman’s London director Roger Tatley and Manuel Miseur from Berlin’s Johnen Galerie, who were yesterday spotted somewhat awkwardly enacting Sehgal’s slow-motion Kiss, something else altogether.
Who mussed up Kate Moss?
The Brit supermodel Kate Moss, who is usually recognised as a vision of loveliness, is depicted warts’n’all in a head-turning 10ft-high painting (below) by the artist Jason Brooks, on Marlborough Fine Art’s stand at the fair. Brooks is unabashed about revealing the wrinkles and laughter lines of one of the world’s most photographed women. “Supermodels are used to being airbrushed out rather than airbrushed in,” Brooks says of his close-up-and-personal approach. “You could say I’m an instrument of exposure.”
Gallerists have been surreptitiously visiting Campoli Presti’s stand at Liste to see how they have been immortalised by the artist group Reena Spaulings, who have been painting portraits of dealers using images taken from random social-media pages and press sites. But anyone wanting to buy their pirated portrait should make sure they’re feeling collegiate with their commercial compadres, as the work is only for sale in an 22-piece installation. And since some of the dealers featured have shut up shop or parted company with their partners, there is a worry that perhaps this is the artistic equivalent of the curse of Hello magazine.
Let’s talk about sex
If there were an equivalent in the art world of the Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction award, then there would surely be plenty of nominations: Alberto Vargas? John Vettriano? Jeff Koons? Tracey Emin? But this is exactly what Galerie Nasty Alice in Eindhoven, is trying to avoid. “Exhibition Sex” (until 26 July) features work by home-grown talent, including the photographer Menno van der Meulen, the video artist and performer Jolanda Jansen and the sculptor Jeroen Kool, as well as international names, such as French installation artist Julia Boix-Vives, gallerist and visual artist Karin Jannsen from the UK, and the painters Katarzyna Kukula and Agata Kus from Poland. Acknowledging that sex is a difficult subject in art—too overt and it’s deemed porn; too coy and it’s seen as lacking the courage of its convictions—the gallery aims to be outspoken and truthful in its current show.
Glastonbury material (minus the mud) at the V&A
T-shirts, tickets, photographs and posters from the Glastonbury Festival will be housed in a dedicated archive at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (V&A). The event, famous for its muddied fields and welly-wearing revellers, is the longest running music and performing arts festival in the world (it was set up by Michael Eavis on Worthy Farm in Pilton, Somerset, in 1970). Music buffs will be able to see who played when with performers' set-lists available—The Rolling Stones, Jay-Z and Radiohead are among the big names that have appeared at Glastonbury. But it's not just about the music; site-specific works made by artists and designers, such as the London-based Mutoid Waste Company, will also be included. "The archive is interesting not only for its diversity but also for its fascinating witness to creative, social and political change in the UK," says Martin Roth, the V&A director. Archive highlights are due to go on show in the V&A's Theatre and Performance Galleries from March 2015. Festival goers this year will, meanwhile, have the chance to see another music legend, Country queen Dolly Parton.
'Tortured artist' Tovey does a turn for the ICA
The thespian Russell Tovey showed off more than his acting skills last night (11 June) when he went trouser-less during a fifteen-minute monologue devised by the artist Eddie Peake. Tovey took on the role of a tortured artist in a special performance held during the annual gala at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London (ICA). A press statement points out that Russell threw himself into the role, “veering between swaggering bravado and pitiful self-doubt, addressing a rapt audience and his longsuffering Muse (elegantly played by Fernanda Munoz-Newsome)”. But the event was not just concerned with the derobing of Russell (who was at least wearing underwear). Sotheby’s Oliver Barker auctioned off a number of star lots in aid of the ICA including a series of spray paint pieces on copper by Peake, as well as a dinner with the esteemed German artist Anselm Kiefer.
Touched by Marina
Die-hard Marina Abramovic fans were camping outside the Serpentine Gallery from 4am today to be among the first 160 participants in her newest performance 512 Hours. The legendary Serbian artist is taking over the London institution throughout the summer, personally opening and closing the venue each day. Busy Londoners had to part with their smart phones (and children) before entering the empty exhibition space this morning. Exuding cult-like authority, Abramovic led visitors by the hand to the gallery's walls and windows and, with a gentle shoulder squeeze, whispered “listen to the silence”. Respectfully, obediently, everyone waited to be touched by Marina, shuffling from room to room in her wake. Time will tell if rowdier visitors will be ejected by the ushers in black or the performance guru herself.
Larger ladies along the Thames
Take a stroll around Tower Bridge by London's City Hall and you'll no doubt spot a series of sculptures depicting rather voluptuous ladies. These curvy females were created by the Chinese sculptor Xu Hongfei (until 16 June). "His ‘Chubby Women’ are not limited by their size and enjoy active and fulfilling lives walking dogs, meeting lovers, riding bicycles and even skateboarding," says an exuberant press statement. Intriguingly, Jonathan Jones of the Guardian points out that "Xu Hongfei is not, as far as I can see, feared by the Chinese state. On the contrary: he has its backing. He is president of the Guangzhou Sculpture Academy. His exhibition in London is being put on in proud association with the government of Guangdong province." The minister-counsellor for cultural affairs from the Chinese embassy attended the public art launch last week which, argues Jones, demonstrates that "this is very much an officially approved take on contemporary Chinese art".
A power play on the Lower East Side
Young artists often feel powerless in relation to the galleries they work with—but few are able to literally take their gallery's power away. For his first exhibition at James Fuentes Gallery in New York (through 22 June), Ryan Conrad Sawyer left all but the back offices of the Lower East Side space without electricity. The gallery appears to have been ransacked by a wall-dwelling gremlin: Sawyer removed all copper from the interior walls, tearing through drywall and exposing traces of the building’s electrical system. He sold the 14 pounds of copper he harvested for $25, and the receipt is posted on the gallery’s back wall. The process reflects the sharp rise in copper theft from newly abandoned real estate. Since 2000, the US has become the primary source for scrap metal and exportation of the material to developing nations has tripled. The artist, a former contractor himself, “sees the project as an architectural drawing", Fuentes says. Unsurprisingly, Sawyer had to propose the idea to several different galleries before one agreed to let him loose in their space. “We were worried about the structure of the building—if not done correctly, the ceiling could collapse,” says the gallery’s director James Michael Shaeffer. Having control over a gallery's very survival? Now that's power.
Christie's chief is Tory votewinner
The Conservatives have won the by-election in Newark, an East Midlands UK town, with a majority of more than 7,000 votes. The Tory candidate, Robert Jenrick, saw off the Ukip party, with a tally of 17,431. But Jenrick is not just a triumphant Member of Parliament; he is also an art world bigwig with a key post at Christie’s (International Managing Director of the Decorative Arts Business Group). So will he be leaving the art world to serve his constituents? "Robert is still an employee, though we do not expect him to do both roles," said a Christie's spokeswoman.
Revealing the Royal Academy
Have you ever wanted to explore the nooks and crannies of the 246-year-old Royal Academy of Arts in London? Artist duo Lundahl & Seitl are, according to a press statement, taking visitors on a "part real, part imagined journey through the public galleries and hidden spaces" of the hallowed institution. But make haste as as this excursion through the RA underbelly, in headphones and sightless goggles, is only available until 8 June. The tours, of which there are six daily, are part of the ongoing "Symphony of a Missing Room" initiative which has shone a light on the National Museum, Stockholm and the Acropolis Museum in Athens, among other institutions. For ticket availability go to: www.lift festival.com
Eisenhower planned D-Day here—and then painted it for his valet
Seventy years ago this week, General Eisenhower, the supreme Allied commander, made the toughest decision of his military career. Having postponed the D-Day invasion once that week due to bad weather in the English Channel, shortly after 4am on 5 June, he gave the order for 150,000 troops to be landed by sea and air in Normandy from 4,000 ships, supported by 10,000 aircraft. No man is a hero to his valet, the saying goes, but Ike’s manservant became a friend. This oil painting, which Eisenhower created for his African-American valet, Master Sgt Moaney as a token of their friendship, is inscribed by the artist. Ike wrote on the back that it shows the rented house where he planned Operation Overlord, adding that it was painted from memory in 1949. The work showing Telegraph Cottage in Kingston upon Thames comes from a collection that is due to be sold at auction by RR Auction on 17 September in Boston. This week the painting and items, including Eisenhower’s flying jacket, return briefly to the house near London.
Revolutionary spirit in Rodez
France’s revolutionary spirit flared up in Rodez last Friday at François Hollande’s visit to the newly-minted Musée Soulages. A protest of over 200 artists, casual workers and farmers turned violent around 10.30am as riot police armed with tear gas blockaded the avenue to the museum before the President’s arrival. Two protesters were injured and a third arrested, reported the local news team Centre Presse. While Hollande managed to sidestep the demonstrators, one of his agricultural advisors wasn’t so lucky. Philippe Vinçon became the victim of a short-lived hostage plot during a meeting with members of the farmers’ union Confédération Paysanne. The ransom? The liberté of five of their number from detention in Amiens, where they were held on suspicion of vandalising the construction site of the so-called “thousand cows” dairy farm. Happily, the standoff ended quickly when the group received word their comrades would be freed and Vinçon was released just three hours later.