Queenstown Evening by Michael Jordanoff
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Gregg Baker Asian Art
The Japanese Op-artist Tadasuke Kuwayama, better known as Tadasky, dedicated his artistic career to geometric forms, and the circle in particular. His preoccupation with the shape led him to create a special rotating turntable-like wheel with which to paint perfect circles. Tadasky’s work rose to prominence after six of his paintings were included in the seminal Op art exhibition The Responsive Eye at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York in 1965—the same year that this work was made. His paintings are included in many major US and Japanese museum collections, including MoMA and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Nagaoka. The work is on offer for £65,000.
A. Aardewerk Antiquair
This kettle, made by the Amsterdam-based silversmith François Lembregts, is one of the most elaborately ornamented examples of Dutch silver made in the Louis XIV style, says The Hague-based dealer Emiel Aardewerk. What sets this piece apart is the fact that, usually, 18th-century Dutch silverware was known for its conservative design and size, but this piece is quite the opposite. One theory for this is that it was commissioned by a newly wealthy merchant eager to show off the size of his wallet and elicit envy from guests as they were served tea. Only a few objects by Lembregts remain, making this piece rarer still. The work is on offer for €275,000.
As dealers geared up for the VIP opening of the 30th edition of The European Fine Art Fair (Tefaf) in Maastricht on Thursday, 9 March, the question many were asking was whether US collectors and institutions would travel to Europe now that the Dutch fair has editions in New York. In an interview in the latest edition of The Art Newspaper, Michael Plummer, the co-founder of Artvest, which teamed up with Tefaf to bring the Dutch fair to New York, said that he believed that the US editions would drive American traffic to Maastricht. The number of exhibitors in either the spring or fall New York fairs (a little over 90 each), is no match for the 275 dealers visitors will find in Maastricht. However, given that Americans have curtailed international travel in recent years for economic and political reasons, some dealers were sceptical—but remained hopeful.
The London rare book and maps dealer Daniel Crouch, who recently opened a gallery in New York and has a Brexit-inspired stand with 28 works that represent the 28 European Union member states, said that there may not be an impetus for US institutions to send staff to Maastricht now that there are Tefaf editions closer to home. However, several galleries such as Sam Fogg, Benjamin Proust and De Jonckheere said that representatives from US museums, including the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, had been spotted wandering the aisles along with staff from the Louvre and, as one would expect, the Rijksmuseum.
The London rare book and maps dealer Daniel Crouch, who recently opened a gallery in New York and has a Brexit-inspired stand with 28 works that represent the 28 European Union member states
De Jonckheere is showing a 16th-century painting by Lucas Gassel that depicts the story of David and Bathsheba (€1.25m)
The first new gallery space created at the National Gallery in London in 26 years is due to open later this month (22 March) with a display dedicated to the 17th-century Old Masters, Rembrandt and Rubens (until 16 July). The new 200 sq. m space, known as Gallery B, was designed by the UK-based architects Purcell. The move opens up the ground floor in the main Wilkins Building, creating a route from the main entrance in Trafalgar Square to the rear of the building on Orange Street.
The inaugural show includes nine works by Rubens, including Portrait of Ludovicus Nonnius (around 1627), and 11 paintings by Rembrandt such as Portait of Jacob Trip (around 1661). All of the works are drawn from the permanent collection. The Wolfson Foundation has supported the gallery project.
This will be the arts writer, editor and consultant Myrna Ayad’s first year at the helm of Art Dubai (15-18 March), which this year features 92 galleries from 44 countries. Over the past five years, Art Dubai has seen visitor numbers rise from 20,000 to 25,000 and gallery application numbers increase by around 45%, proving its increasing importance in the global fairs landscape. This year’s winner of the Abraaj Group Art Prize—$100,000—is the Bangladeshi artist Rana Begum, who is heading up the prize’s annual group exhibition at the fair.
A 300-year-old cabinet has had a lengthy restoration before being offered for sale on the London-based dealer Rolleston’s stand at this month’s British Antique Dealers’ Association fair in London (15-21 March). When the third-generation, family-run firm, which specialises in English furniture and antiques, acquired the William and Mary-period japanned cabinet, its stand and cresting were covered in thick layers of gold paint. “When we first saw it, we realised the carving should be crisper,” James Rolleston says. They removed a postage-stamp-sized piece of paint and found that the crest and stand had been silvered and painted over.
Restorers spent a year stripping the paint. “It’s a bit like going to the dentist—it’s a painstaking process and it’s one of those things that you don’t want to rush,” Rolleston says. Only small areas needed to be resilvered as the silver was in good condition. The cabinet itself, which has its original lacquer, brass and handles, was also in good condition and just needed to be cleaned.
Tension, upheaval, uncertainty, disorientation: do these themes sound familiar? They are the persistent refrain of many recent biennials because they are the persistent problems of our time. Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev made trauma the key issue of Documenta 13 in Kassel in 2012 and last year’s Venice Biennale, organised by Okwui Enwezor, imagined a sprawling capitalist wreck.
“Here we are,” he wrote in the catalogue essay, “standing, puzzled, looking with scrutiny at the inscrutable; a plateau of debris stretching across the horizon.” The 2017 Whitney Biennial—which is not really organised around a theme but serves as a cross-section of recent artistic production in America—keeps up the general insistence on disorder but the tone is milder, both conceptually and formally. The curators Christopher Lew and Mia Locks organised their exhibition largely in the lead-up to the 2016 American presidential election, which was in many ways a grand liberal opportunity. The fallout of that historic upset is largely unreflected in the show, in part because by the time the results came in on 8 November, most of the artists and their work had been selected and commissioned. A wall text at the museum says the biennial “arrives at a time rife with racial tensions, economic inequities, and polarizing politics,” which is true. But the sense of alarm seems sometimes like an afterthought, as if Lew and Locks—like more than half the country—expected a different presidential outcome.
Celeste Dupuy-Spencer, Fall with Me for a Million Days (My Sweet Waterfall) (2016). Courtesy the artist and Mier Gallery, Los Angeles
But it is no longer enough to say “crisis” when conditions darken. We have to ask: what kind of crisis? A brief ailment or a true disease? Can art do anything for it? What forms might that take? Where should our energy go? At the Whitney, the artist Porpentine Charity Hardscape has installed a text-heavy, choose-your-own adventure game you play at a computer. It is a simplistic presentation, but at least it begs the question.
A new museum due to open on 21 April in the Congolese forest aims to “repatriate” the white cube space. Built on a former palm oil plantation of the English-Dutch company Unilever, a major sponsor of museums in the UK and the Netherlands, the White Cube is part of the Lusanga International Research Centre for Art and Economic Inequality in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Designed pro-bono by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), it is the Dutch firm’s first museum in Africa. At the heart of the project is “how to attack worldwide inequalities… at the root”, says the artist Cedrick Tamasala, a member of the local art cooperative Cercle d’art des travailleurs de plantation congolaise (Congolese Plantation Workers Art League/CATPC), which co-founded the research centre. “The ‘white cube’, the art world, are so far from the reality here,” he says.
Inside the White Cube in Lusanga (Image: ©OMA)
The Beijing art power couple Wanwan Lei and Lin Han cofounded M Woods in Beijing’s 798 art district in 2014 with their friend Michael Xufu Huang, and the trio have established the institution as one of the capital’s most varied institutions. Bringing with them the more relaxed globalism of China’s young generation of elites, they have shown artists ranging from Guido van der Werve and Andy Warhol to Duan Jianyu and Qiu Xiaofei.
This month, M Woods opened a 94-work show (until June 11) organised by Lei of the French painter Cristof Yvoré (1967-2013). Yvoré’s first exhibition in China and solo show is among the highlights of the inaugural Gallery Weekend Beijing, which closed on Sunday.Both Wanwan and Han were born in 1987, he in Beijing and she in Hong Kong. Han studied animation at the University of Northumbria in Great Britain, and now heads a public relations firm. Wanwan studied art history at Beijing’s Central Academic of Fine Arts and earned her masters in arts management from New York’s Columbia University. Prior to opening M Woods, she worked in several New York galleries and launched her Wanwan Lei Projects exhibition series of international emerging artists. Here, the couple gives us a sneak peek into their private art collection.