St Moritz becomes off-piste arts hub

Posted August 29th, 2012 under Brazil, Contemporary Art, Festivals, Switzerland

“In the last days of summer, the art world is enjoying a final fling in the Swiss Alps, where the St Moritz Arts Masters festival (until 2 September) has turned the Engadin valley into an off-piste arts hub. Now in its fifth year, the event brings together artists, galleries and collectors for a programme of art tours, exhibitions and talks,” writes the Art Newspaper.

“This year’s festival has a special focus on art from Brazil, with exhibitions of work by the artists Vik Muniz, Adriana Varejão, Saint Clair Cemin and Pedro Wirz, and the architect and designer Paulo Sergio Niemeyer. International gallerists, such as Gian Enzo Sperone and Karsten Greve, have also opened shows this week, taking advantage of the high-profile collectors who come to the resort town. The festival’s “Walk of Art” tour leads visitors around the 30 venues, which are all open to the public free of charge and are showing works by artists including Tom Sachs, Ron Arad, James Turrell and Mimmo Rotella. The British conceptual artist Hamish Fulton is due to lead a “slowalk” on Thursday 30 August around the Engadin valley.

There is also a series of talks, with international museum directors, curators and artists taking part. This Saturday (1 September), the festival’s curator, Reiner Opoku, is due to moderate a discussion between the artist Tom Sachs, Jeffrey Deitch, the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and Lüder Fromm, the head of global marketing communications at Mercedes-Benz, about the relationship between art and brands.

A full schedule of events is on the festival’s website.“


“The Perfect Moment” – Mapplethorpe Show returns to the U.S.

Posted August 28th, 2012 under Uncategorized

Two decades after it was denounced by Jesse Helms in Congress and almost sent Dennis Barrie to jail, the X Portfolio is finally coming out.

“When the ill-fated Robert Mapplethorpe survey called “The Perfect Moment” opened at Cincinnati’s Contemporary Arts Center in April 1990, some not unexpected and not very art-friendly visitors arrived,” writes Art News. “It was the vice squad. As Cynthia Carr, then on assignment for the Village Voice, recounts in her recent David Wojnarowicz biography, police began “pushing away the art-goers and knocking down velvet ropes as if chasing some deadly criminal.” After videotaping the evidence—-Mapplethorpe’s X Portfolio, a 1978 series that includes pictures of gay sadomasochistic scenarios—-police charged the museum and its director, Dennis Barrie, with pandering obscenity. At the resulting trial, a series of curators testified about the painstaking genesis of the photographs and the show, convincing the jurors, as one put it to me at the time, “that art doesn’t have to be pretty.” As art, however, it was not legally obscene. So they voted to acquit.

Still, it seemed, a chilling effect was in the air. For the next two decades, except for the Santa Monica Museum of Art’s re-creation of “The Perfect Moment” in conjunction with Showtime’s movie about the case, Mapplethorpe’s graphic images were rarely shown in U.S. art institutions, even as they packed museum galleries in Europe, Asia, and beyond.

Some American museum leaders undoubtedly thought the work was too hot to handle. But the artist’s low profile in his native country was also the result of a longtime strategy by his own foundation, which, in the wake of the obscenity trial, nixed several U.S. museums’ proposals for Mapplethorpe shows out of concern they would be sensationalized. “It was too overwhelming,” says Mapplethorpe Foundation president Michael Ward Stout. “People were losing track of the fact he was a serious artist.”

Now, two decades after it was denounced by Jesse Helms in Congress and almost sent Dennis Barrie to jail, the X Portfolio is finally coming out. Beginning October 21, in a space beyond immediate sightlines where labels note the content may not be appropriate for everyone, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will present each work in Mapplethorpe’s controversial series.”

Read on at Art News.

Mapplethorpe Perfect Moment at WPA, 1989

Taped in 1989 at the height of the NEA censorship controversy, footage appeared on Oprah! and on newscasts across the country, and in 2011 for Culture Wars: Then and Now at the Corcoran. The exhibition of photographs by Robert Mapplethorpe was mounted at the Washington Project for the Arts after the Corcoran Gallery of Art was pressured to cancel. Interviews feature curator Philip Brookman and James Fitzpatrick, Esq. I produced and edited, Matt Dibble shot, and Maida Withers asked the questions.


How to get free images from the National Portrait Gallery

Posted August 28th, 2012 under Collections, Copyright, Media, Portraits

The National Portrait Gallery in London has announced a change in its licensing arrangements for images needed for academic or non-commercial purposes. In future it will be possible to download images, which are out of copyright, for free.

Over 53,000 low-resolution images will now be available free of charge to non-commercial users through a standard ‘Creative Commons’ licence and over 87,000 high-resolution images will also be available free of charge for academic use through the Gallery’s own licences.

Katherine Tyrrell of Art Blog “Making a Mark” writes: “I’ve been campaigning behind the scenes for years to get the major museums to make their collections more accessible to those who want to study images and publish them for non-commercial purposes. I’ve written more than a few emails in my time to explain why stated licensing arrangements were a nonsense – particularly in respect of publicly funded art galleries and museums which have educational objectives! I’ve explained at length why the processes required for the commercial print exploitation of high resolution images are neither relevant nor appropriate for low resolution images needed for academic study or personal use. It has felt rather like hitting one’s head against a brick wall at times!”

Now Katherine Tyrrell explains in detail how to access and download images using the new automated licensing process.

Photo by Rudi Meisel, Berlin


Ten Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration

Posted August 28th, 2012 under Drawing, Old Masters, Shows

To mark the Diamond Jubilee of Her Majesty The Queen, ten of Leonardo da Vinci’s finest drawings in the Royal Collection will tour to five venues across the UK. They have been selected to reflect Leonardo’s use of different media and the extraordinary range of his activities – painting and sculpture, engineering, botany, mapmaking, hydraulics and anatomy.

The exhibition includes designs for chariots fitted with flailing clubs, a study of the head of Leda, a drawing of oak leaves, a double-sided sheet of anatomical sketches, a design for a scheme to drain marshland, a view of a river from a window, a costume study of a man on horseback, drawings of apocalyptic scenes, and a rough study of an old man in profile, one of the last drawings made by the artist.

Please visit The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery Museum website to find out more.


The Museo ABC for Drawing and Illustration in Madrid

Posted August 28th, 2012 under Architecture, Drawing, Spain

“New Museum ABC in Madrid is one of the rare spaces in Europe that is dedicated to contemporary drawing and illustration. It stands out for its vibrant cultural offer and its design by studio Aranguren & Gallegos,” writes Lancia Trend Visions.

With the renovation of a former factory in Calle de Amaniel, near the gardens of Plaza de España, the intent was to address the design challenges typical of a historic context, without forsaking a contemporary aesthetic.

By strengthening the elements of discontinuity already present in the building, like the prismatic facade of the entrance, the museum can now be accessed from both sides, creating a connection between 2 city streets in the internal patio.

The Spanish studio primarily tried to increase the functional (and evocative) possibilities of the historic center. They did so by creating a “tensioned vacuum”, a “spatial dihedron”, formed by the horizontal plane of the floor of the patio and the vertical place of the internal façade of the former factory. (…)
ABC Museum is a private initiative sponsored by numerous companies with the sole purpose of promoting the world of art. This new home and frame for over 200,000 drawings and 1500 artists is also thanks to Fundaciòn Santander, la Fundaciòn Madrileña, Caser, Prosegur and Schindler.”

Go to Lancia Trend Visions to see more images of the Museo ABC.

Via the incredible


The Art of Animation and Motion Graphics

Posted August 28th, 2012 under Animation, Cartoons, Documentaries, Motion Graphics, Videos

Animation has been captivating audiences for more than a hundred years. From classic forms like hand drawn and stop-motion, to cutting-edge techniques like motion graphics and CGI, animation has a long history of creating style and poetry unachievable through live action filmmaking. It is a tool for educating, a place for experimentation and play, and a way of telling personal stories that reach the viewer with powerful visual metaphors.

John Canemaker,
Jesse Thomas, Jess3
Justin Cone,
Julia Pott

Additional artists featured:
Dani Wolf
Lorcan O’Shanahan
K.U. Schneider
Emrah Gonulkirmaz
Phil Borst
Mario Brauer
Ion Lucin
Michiel Verweij
Michael Pelton
Simon Bronson
Andriy Blyznyuk
Nicolas Lichtle
Mike Polak
Ed Rhine
Daniel Savage
Nicholas Polowy
Francesco Indaco
VinhSon Nguyen
Anders Goberg

Henrik Jose –
Professor Kliq –
Mindthings –
Kynset –
Bliss –
Grace Valhalla –
Hack The System –


“Art of devotion” in the Middle Ages at the Getty

Posted August 28th, 2012 under Art History, Europe, Religion, Shows

Prayer, both personal and communal, was an integral aspect of life in Europe during the Middle Ages. The readings, rites, and prayers contained in medieval Christian devotional books were often accompanied by lavish decorations that were key in both fostering and expressing the religious zeal of the faithful. Drawn primarily from the Getty Museum’s permanent collection, The Art of Devotion in the Middle Ages, on display August 28, 2012–February 3, 2013, at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, features elaborately illuminated books executed in precious pigments and gold. These prayer books not only played an important role in everyday worship, but also served as material testaments to the piety of the books’ owners.

“Christians in the Middle Ages often celebrated their beliefs with lavishly illuminated devotional books,”explains Elizabeth Morrison, acting senior curator of manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum. “Full-page images and page borders brimming with fantastic figures and scenes focused attention on important texts and rites.”

The exhibition focuses on three aspects of religious life: public devotion, private devotion, and devotional literature.

Public Devotion

Although early Christian ceremonies were very simple, over the course of the Middle Ages they gradually transformed into a series of complicated rites and performances. The books used in the liturgy (communal worship services) of the Christian Church often received decorative treatment that created a sense of majesty and luxury. The books produced for these public ceremonies became more elaborate in their presentation, both to emphasize the religious importance of the texts and to symbolize the wealth and power of the Church.

Some manuscripts, such as Bibles and missals, were placed on the altar during services, while others, such as music manuscripts, were positioned on a lectern so that multiple participants could see the book at once. In Initial S: The Massacre of the Innocents, from a Bolognese antiphonal of the late 1200s, Herod sits at the left, giving the order for the massacre of all male children under the age of two, while a soldier at right holds an infant upside-down by the leg, preparing to use his sword. This dramatic choir book initial accompanies the chants for the feast of the Holy Innocents. An antiphonal contains the music sung during the Divine Office, the eight prayer services celebrated daily by monks, nuns, and clerics of the Catholic Church, and this manuscript, almost two feet tall, was originally part of an impressive seven-volume set. The book’s large size would have made it usable by a group of singers.

Private Devotion

Throughout the Middle Ages, men and women celebrated their religious beliefs not only during Church services, but also with the aid of small personal prayer books that were beautifully written and illuminated. On a daily basis, monks, nuns, and members of the clergy recited the cycle of prayers known as the Divine Office, which pious Christians outside the Church increasingly sought to imitate. Breviaries (containing the texts of the Divine Office), psalters (containing all 150 Biblical psalms), and books of hours (originally an abbreviated form of the breviary developed for laypeople), all designed for private use, were acquired by those who could afford such luxuries. These books sometimes contained dozens or even hundreds of finely illuminated pages, and could be individualized with images of favorite saints or feasts that reflected the traits of a specific region or the wishes of a particular patron.

The exhibition includes several richly illustrated private devotional texts, including The Annunciation to the Shepherds (about 1480–90), from a book of hours by Georges Trubert (French, active 1469–1508), which features two humble shepherds who look up in astonishment and awe as an angel comes to them to announce the birth of Christ. The illusionistic jeweled frame surrounding the scene imitates those found on contemporary panel paintings, elevating the page to the status of a private devotional artwork.

Devotional Literature

A large variety of texts were written and illuminated to inspire piety and contemplation among medieval Christians. Religious reading was an integral part of the daily routine of monks and nuns, while the increasing desire for a personal connection with Christ and the Virgin Mary ensured growth in the production of devotional tracts. The Bible and the writings of early Christian theologians were primary sources for devotional reading. Works detailing the lives of Christ and Mary, who were considered models of behavior, gave rise to pictures of events not recorded in the Bible, and the illustrated stories of the saints—full of entertaining narratives—found popularity among all segments of the Christian population.

In Matteo di ser Cambio’s Saint Bernard Reading (about 1375), the saint reads in solitude, deeply engrossed in the small book in his hands. The image adorns a text exploring man’s inner relationship with God that was ascribed during the Middle Ages to Saint Bernard, who was famed for his rejection of worldly temptations in favor of simplicity and quiet contemplation. Appropriately for the text, in which Bernard explores his own spirituality, the author is not shown in the act of writing, but lost in study.

“What’s fascinating about devotional texts of the Middle Ages is the variety of decoration that they could inspire, from narrative scenes set against shimmering gold backgrounds to playful border decorations featuring charming animals and lush vegetation,” adds Morrison. “From piety came innovative works of art that inspired and elevated readers, whether they were taking part in a church service, praying privately at home, or studying a particular aspect of Christianity.”

The Art of Devotion in the Middle Ages is curated by Elizabeth Morrison, acting senior curator of manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum.


“Soft Power” at Saudi Arabia’s First Contemporary Art Gallery

Posted August 28th, 2012 under Arab World, Featured, Galleries, Saudi Arabia, Shows, Women

“Saudi Arabia is making its mark on the global contemporary art scene: works by Middle Eastern artists such as Talal Al Zeid and Mohammed Farea are available at Lam Art Gallery in Riyadh, the Empty Quarter photography gallery in Dubai was founded by the Saudi photographer Princess Reem Al-Faisal, while Message/Messenger, a 2010 installation incorporating a wood and copper dome by the Saudi artist Abdulnasser Gharem, was the top lot at Christie’s Dubai in April 2011, fetching $842,500 (with buyer’s premium; est $70,000-$100,000). A new contemporary art gallery called Alaan Artspace, which opens next month in Riyadh, also hopes to succeed in the field,” writes The Art Newspaper.

“There is a tremendous amount of energy around the arts in Saudi, but relatively few institutions and Alaan Artspace is Riyadh’s first curated contemporary art platform,” says Neama Alsudairy, the founding director of the new gallery. “Revenue from the shop, restaurant and cafe give us the flexibility to hold non-commercial exhibitions, commission new works, stock an art research library, and offer free non-profit educational arts programming.” In a significant move, the venue will also host commercial shows.

The opening exhibition, “Soft Power” (26 September-10 December), represents a breakthrough, featuring three Saudi female artists. ”

Read on at The Art Newspaper.

SoftPower features new commissions by emerging mixed-media artists Sarah Abu Abdallah and Sarah Mohanna Al-Abdali and a special loan by one of Saudi’s leading artists Manal Al Dowayan. While varied in style and methodology, their works employ a nuanced and at times humorous approach towards exploring the position of women within contemporary society, forgoing militant tactics for those of solidarity, ambiguity and irony.


Abraaj Capital Art Prize Turns Five – 2013 Winners Announced

Posted August 27th, 2012 under Arab World, Art Fairs, Awards

The winners of the 2013 Abraaj Capital Art Prize, just announced today – Vartan Avakian, Iman Issa, Huma Mulji, Hrair Sarkissian and Rayyane Tabet – have already started working closely with selected Guest Curator Murtaza Vali to create new works to be exhibited at the next Art Dubai (March 20-23, 2013).

Photo above (from left to right): Guest Curator Murtaza Vali, ACAP 2013 winners Huma Mulji and Iman Issa, Chair ACAP Savita Apte and Abraaj Capital’s Fred Sicre.

The Abraaj Capital Art Prize is delighted to announced today the winning artists for its fifth edition, bringing the total number of winners awarded the prize to 21. The Abraaj Capital Art Prize is awarded annually to five artists on the basis of proposals for new artworks, which become permanent additions to the Abraaj Capital Art Collection following their unveiling at Art Dubai. Abraaj Capital, a leading private equity manager investing in global growth markets, launched the Abraaj Capital Art Prize in 2008 to foster and reward artistic development in the region.

The winners have a strong exhibition history regionally and internationally, and have shown works in recent editions of Art Dubai and the Sharjah Biennial. The prize affords winners the opportunity of developing ambitious projects which without the granted funds would not have been possible. The winning artists announced by the Abraaj Capital Art Prize are:

• Vartan Avakian (Lebanon)
• Iman Issa (Egypt)
• Huma Mulji (Pakistan)
• Hrair Sarkissian (Syria)
• Rayyane Tabet (Lebanon)

The artists have already started working closely with the selected Guest Curator for 2013, Murtaza Vali. He has the responsibility of supervising the production of the artworks, their display at Art Dubai (from March 20 – 23 2013), and the publishing of an annual catalogue. Vali’s appointment was announced in May 2012.

The Selection Committee for the prize includes leading experts in the field of the visual arts including: Antonia Carver, Director, Art Dubai; Dana Farouki, Patron; Ali Khadra, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Canvas; Salwa Mikdadi, art historian and curator; Jessica Morgan, Daskalopoulos Curator, International Art, Tate; Elaine Ng, Editor, Art Asia Pacific; Glenn Lowry, Director, the Museum of Modern Art and Nat Muller, ACAP 2012 Guest Curator.
Marking the announcement, Frederic Sicre, Partner at Abraaj Capital and Head of the Abraaj Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement Track (ASSET) said: “Now in its fifth year, the Abraaj Capital Art Prize has truly come of age. This prize has grown to be a key benchmark for creative excellence in contemporary art practice, and embodies Abraaj Capital’s unwavering commitment to nurturing exceptional talent and empowering potential across global growth markets”.

Savita Apte, Chair of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize, added: “In the five years since we started the Abraaj Capital Art Prize, it has consistently shone a spotlight on diverse creative talent from the MENASA region, and propelled its winners to even greater achievements. The five artists we are announcing today are all actively engaged in pushing boundaries and developing dynamic visual experiences within the arts sector in their respective home countries and abroad; I encourage you all to visit Art Dubai in March 2013 to experience the works when they are unveiled”.

Former winners of the Abraaj Capital Art Prize have subsequently gone on to achieve further accolades, and are recognized as established artists in the international arts world. New artworks by winning artists are being acquired by important collections such as MOMA and Tate, and works from the Abraaj Capital Art Collection are increasingly requested for loan by leading institutions and biennials. Two Abraaj Capital Art Prize artworks, by Shezad Dawood and Kader Attia, are currently on exhibition in the UK for the London 2012 Festival, and Jananne Al-Ani’s artwork is part of the 18th Biennale of Sydney. In May this year, artworks by Kader Attia and Hala Elkoussy were on exhibition at the National Museum of Carthage, Tunis.


Brickstarter: crowd-funding for public spaces

Posted August 27th, 2012 under Architecture, Politics, Public Art

Have an idea for a public space? A new website based on the Kickstarter model could make citizen-based urban planning a reality.

“Brickstarter reverses the polarity from NIMBY to YIMBY (“Yes In My Backyard”), from complain to create, outlining a platform for suggestions, developed and driven by participation of citizens, local business, and government. Brickstarter explores how to make it easier for communities to voice a productive and collective “yes” to their best ideas.

Citizens are now more eager than ever to play a part in local decision making. Promising initiatives are popping up around the world, each exploring the potential of crowd-sourced or crowd-funded approaches to shared spaces, services and public infrastructure. Yet bottom-up is only half the story.

Brickstarter sits between bottom-up and top-down, connecting the needs and desires of the community with the resources and representation of institutions. Brickstarter has a user-centred perspective, working with communities and government to help smooth institutional processes and permits, and prototype participative governance.”

More at Brickstarter.

The Guardian: “The big difference between Kickstarter projects and public space proposals is that the latter will require local government approval. If you can prove that a community is behind your project, it will help you make a convincing case to the local authority. And if that community also decides to fund it, what an infinitely more persuasive proposition. You can see at a glance how this has the potential to completely rewrite the relationship between citizens and local government.

It’s early days though. A site like Neighborland is a useful exercise in civic expression, but it’s limited in what it can achieve. One person in Boulder, Colorado, for instance, posts that he wants a commuter train to Denver. He’s backed up by 49 others, who all clicked “Me too”. But given that such a train would cost hundreds of millions of dollars, they don’t stand much of a chance. Transport infrastructure isn’t a case of wish fulfilment, it’s a case of serious government investment.

This is where Brickstarter comes in. Conceived by the design team at Sitra, the Finnish innovation fund, Brickstarter facilitates bottom-up initiatives by connecting them to local government. The website brings the rapid networking of social media together with a municipality’s clout to “make good things happen in your neighbourhood”. It goes out of its way to make it easy for citizens to join in with planning, inviting them to meetings and enabling them to donate money or skills.”

Read on at The Guardian.