Thursday, May 17, 2007

Weekly Roundup

Illustration from Les Robes de Paul Poiret from this year's annual Costume Institute Benefit Gala held at the Met.

Weekly Roundup
by Laura Berlin

From Heidegger to Anna Nicole Smith, the question of taste is an eternal and endlessly perplexing one. There are many ways to be tasteful - such as selecting the perfect tie to accompany you and  your seersucker suit to the Hamptons, and even more ways to be tasteless - such as elbowing a fellow socialite on the catwalk. This art week was indeed a study on the science of taste: everything from a tasteful ensemble, to an Emily Post approved gift, to a taste of food, to an unsavory offer. Though we shall see if "a little bad taste is like a nice dash of paprika" then good taste is the enemy of creativity.

The Tate Modern’s audacious and highly lucrative fundraising dinner held in Manhattan last week raised $1.5m for the purchase of American works of art. The powerhouse guest list included Calvin Klein, Lady Rothschild, Chelsea Clinton, Carlos Slim Helú (the world’s second richest man), Queen Noor, Jeff Koons, Bruce Nauman, and Sir Howard Hodgkin.

Ellsworth Kelly Red White
A plate of asparagus tips followed by poussin with lemon cornbread stuffing started at $5,000 and went up to $50,000 for a table. Of the lavish gifts extended to the Bankside institution were Bird in Hand by Ellen Gallagher, Ellsworth Kelly's Red White, and Susan Rothenberg's United States. While Tate director, Sir Nicholas Serota, claims that the event was meant to “grow the international profile of the Tate [not] simply going and planting British flags", many still feel that the dinner’s success was a commentary on the downward spiraling MoMA who were effectively slighted on their own home turf. []
L. to r.: Carlos Slim Helú; Chelsea Clinton; Lady Rothschild.
The Rima Fine Art gallery located in Scottsdale, Arizona, has acquired the entirety of the Renoir Family Archive for the purposes of a $1b business plan entitled “House of Renoir” in which novelty items such as mousepads and poor sculptural reproductions will be produced and marketed.

Dror Darel, Rima Fine Art
Owners Tracy Penwell and her husband Dror Darel teamed up with investor Charles Slane (who contributed $900,000) and have hinted at the possibility of the creation of a museum to house the archive. The seller, Renoir’s great-grandson Emmanuel Renoir, states the sale price of $150,000 was “ridiculously low”, though even this paltry amount has been contested by descendants of Richard Guino, Renoir’s studio collaborator, as an unauthorized transaction. While the business plan does state that it is directed at “the most Neanderthal of art fans”, one must wonder how high level the inventor of a Renoir toilet paper roll could be. [The Art Newspaper]

Art collectors Ivan and Louise Aird were robbed last Thursday at their home in Cheadle Hulme, UK, of nearly £2m worth of Lowry paintings. After Mrs. Aird answered the door early that morning to a man dressed as a postman, two conspirators burst into the home, tied up both Mr. and Mrs. Aird, and threatened their daughter Sabrina's life at knifepoint unless the entirety of their LS Lowery collection, including the artist’s palette and paintbrushes were turned over. Of the numerous works taken from the Aird's personal collection is The Viaduct, estimated at £700,000. While the robbers have not been found, it is speculated that this was a well organized and highly premeditated crime thus calling into question the motivation as sale of these works on the open market would be near impossible due to their fame. However, if the masterminds are Brad Pitt and George Clooney, it is most likely these works will not resurface again for quite sometime. [Art]
Nathan Coley
Mark Wallinger
On the short list:

Mario Garcia Torres, artist center
Mexican artist, Mario Garcia Torres, has been awarded the second Cartier Award which allocates a three-month residency at London's Gasworks studio complex, £10,000 of production costs, an artist's fee of £1,000, and the opportunity to create a work for the upcoming fall Frieze Art Fair, also in London. While Torres’ project is under heavy wraps Frieze curator Neville Wakefield states, "Mario's proposal for Frieze is a brilliant and irresistible combination of dry wit and conceptual elegance sure to perplex, confuse and hold everyone's attention." [The Guardian]

The shortlist of this years Turner Prize, the provocative contemporary art award widely recognized as one of the most important and prestigious awards for the visual arts in Europe, is being touted as one of the most politically charged with the selection of Zarina Bhimji who was forced out of her native Uganda while under the Idi Amin regime; Nathan Coley whose work focuses upon consumer society; Mike Nelson whose installations exist only for the time period of the exhibition which they were made for; and Mark Wallinger whose work State Britain was forcibly removed last year under the Serious Organized Crime and Police Act. []

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