Sunday, 15 October 2017

de Kooning: Late Paintings

Some late, large, rhythmic, abstract loveliness from de Kooning at Skarstedt.

de Kooning: Late Paintings
until 25th November
8 Bennet Street

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Marilyn Flowers Lips Gun Mirror Cactus

Guido Drocco and Franco Mello - Radiant Cactus, 2017

To Savile Row to see a small, but high impact exhibition of Pop Art, and a collective of cacti known as a spike. More or less everybody is familiar with Pop Art, whose remit according to artist Richard Hamilton was to be - 

‘Popular (designed for a mass audience); Transient (short term solution); Expendable (easily forgotten); Low Cost; Mass Produced; Young (aimed at Youth); Witty; Sexy; Gimmicky; Glamorous; and Big Business’. 

With all of this taken into consideration Pop is certainly an art form for the present day, with both old and young's preoccupations with social media, and its use as a tool as a platform for instant, global fame. Andy Warhol's assertion that - "In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes", certainly rings true in an age that celebrates celebrity. 

Andy Warhol - Orange Gun, 1982

Although the artists featured here are world famous, and their work has therefore become fairly ubiquitous and synonymous with the Pop Art movement, this show presents works by the artists which have never been seen in the UK before. We are presented with Warhol's fascination with celebrity in the portraits of Marilyn. The American fascination with weapons, and the obsession with their constitutional right to bear arms are explored in the large print of the gun, (Warhol would actually go on to be shot by an associate - Valerie Solanas). This is, sadly a highly contentious image given the recent atrocity in Las Vegas by a man with a large cache of automatic weapons. The last image by Warhol is a fairly inoffensive but bold image of flowers.

Andy Warhol - Four Multicoloured Marilyns (Reversal Series), 1979-1986

Roy Lichtenstein - Mirror #2, 1970 

I love the conceit of Lichtenstein's Mirror #2. The Ben-Day dot technique he uses in his work is also the very same printing technique used on the coloured papers that I incorporate in my own work. I also like the commercial art billboard painting techniques and implied eroticism of Tom Wesselman's paintings. The new discovery for me in this show was this forest of polyurethane glow-in-the-dark cacti, which were originally created in 1972 by artists Guido Drocco and Franco Mello for the Italian firm Gufram. They were apparently conceived as coat-hangers, but perfectly fit the original, playful, gimmicky remit of the spirit of Pop.

Tom Wesselman - Smoker #22, 1975

Andy Warhol - Flowers, 1964-1965

Marilyn Flowers Lips Gun Mirror Cactus
until 16th December
25 Saville Row 

Monday, 9 October 2017

White Cube Bermondsey

 Cerith Wyn Evans: 9x9x9
Visited White Cube Bermondsey for an engaging trio of conceptual installations. The initial exhibit is one by Cerith Wyn Evans. Neon Forms (after Noh IV), 2017 is a much reduced version of his stunning installation -  Forms In Light (In Time) seen at Tate Britain earlier this year (here). These pieces are really wonderful, like 3-D drawings made of light, owning and occupying their space. It would be great to have a room filled with these hanging sculptures at a similar engagable height through which the viewer would be able to navigate a path.

Shrine, 2017, three highly reflective obsidian mirrors. 

Ann Veronica Janssens: Inside The White Cube
Of the three installations this was a surprise, as I had seen and really enjoyed Janssens atmospheric installation yellowbluepink, at the Wellcome Institute in 2015 (here), and wasn't expecting to like much else of Janssens brand of minimalism, but it was this  exhibition of the three on show that I actually enjoyed the most. Having worked with so much gold leaf this year I appreciated her gilding of mundane objects such as the brass circle, the aluminium sheeting, and the window blinds to create a completely new object. I like the way in which her work plays with reflecting and refracting light, and the visual effects of mirrors and glass. Untitled (white glitter), 2016, a slick of glitter on the gallery floor, beautifully caught the light and reflections of colours from other pieces in the room. It glowed and shimmered like the Northern Lights. Magical!

 Damián Ortega: Play Time

Ortega's installation was based on games of chance and systems of knowledge. It all appeared to be very technical and pseudo-scientific with wall-charts and diagrams which didn't actually appear to explain anything. I liked these balled forms cut in half entitled Encyclopeadic Geodes (2017), which are made from layers of paper from the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Cutting them in half reveals the dense layers of knowledge that they contain. They also reminded me of the rings of trees which have been sliced open in order to determine their age through the science of dendrochronology. The mysterious constructions of black machine parts also appealed to me.

Cerys Wyn Evans: 9x9x9
Ann Veronica Janssens: Inside The White Cube
Damián Ortega: Playtime
until 12th November
White Cube Bermondsey
144-152 Bermondsey Street

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Christie's Post-War and Contemporary Art Auction Results

Francis Bacon - Study Of Red Pope, 1962 2nd Version, 1971 (Estimate on Request)

So, Christie's Pot-War and Contemporary Art Auction Evening was held last night, and there were surprises and a real sense of shock, as their trophy lot - Francis Bacon's Study of Red Pope, 1962 2nd Version, 1971 failed to sell. The on-request estimate price for the work was £60 million - a costly miscalculation for both the auction house and the seller. The bidding started at £50 million, then rose, and stopped at £58 million, just below the estimate threshold. There were no further bids by phone or in the room and so amazingly the work remained unsold.

Francis Bacon - Head With Raised Arm, 1955 (Estimate £7,000,000 - £10,000,000)
The other Bacon in the sale (above) - another which remained under the radar in a private collection for years - however, did sell at £11.5 million which was just above its high estimate. 

Peter Doig - Camp Forestia, 1996 (Estimate £14,000,000 - £18,000,000)
This piece - typical of a phase of Doig's output that the collectors really seem to love, did sell achieving £15.4 million.

Peter Doig - Approaching A City, 1997-1998 (Estimate 2,000,000 - £3,000,000)
This work which was more uncharacteristic of Doig's output however, failed to reach its estimate and didn't sell.

Jean-Michel Basquiat - Red Skull, 1982 (Estimate On Request)
Basquiat's Red Skull was perhaps the other star lot of the sale after the Francis Bacon, and despite having an on-estimate price request like the Bacon, managed to sell for £16.5 million which was in the middle of its £12 - £18 million estimate.

Jean-Michel Basquiat - Both Poles, 1982 (Estimate £3,000,000 - £4,000,000)
This, another of the Basquiats in the sale also managed to sell at the upper end of its estimate for £3.78 million.

Jean-Michel Basquiat/Andy Warhol - Keep Frozen, 1985 (Estimate £1,200,000 - £1,800,000)
This Basquiat-Warhol collaboration achieved £1.6 million fairly close to its high estimate.

Andy Warhol - 2 Dollar Bill With Jefferson, 1962 (Estimate £1,000,000 - £1,500,000)
A lovely early Warhol drawing failed to sell.

Cy Twombly - Lycian Drawing, 1982 (Estimate £1,000,000 - £1,500,000)
This Cy Twombly painting achieved £1.8 million.

Despite the star lot and several others remaining unsold, Christies still realised sales of £99, 522,750 for the Post-War and Contemporary Art Auction. Not bad at all for one night's work!