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Art outside the museums

Part II

 

As we have seen, investing in art has become a common practice for large fashion companies and this form of new patronage is increasingly supported by institutional initiatives, not without a certain audacity combined with high economic opportunities, making success in showing also private collections to the general public, which otherwise would be inaccessible.

In recent years the numerous foundations have assumed a role of great importance in promoting contemporary art and in popularizing the work of more or less emerging artists, as well as having started urban redevelopment processes by creating new attraction poles thanks to exhibition spaces designed by well-known architects, not only “containers” but real works.

In addition to the aforementioned Fendi, in Italy it is the Prada Foundation with its two offices – in Milan and Venice – which pursues a cutting-edge cultural commitment also with respect to European experiences and long-term innovative projects by supporting young artists who are not yet established.

Born in 1993 at the behest of Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli, the current Milanese headquarters is a sort of campus that invites the interaction between different languages ​​and disciplines such as cinema, music, literature, philosophy, art and science.

This year, the London Design Museum will dedicate a major retrospective to the Italian fashion house, highlighting the innovation and creative approach that characterizes the company’s business and further proof that art, fashion and design are intertwined.

Prada Foundation, Milan, Italy

 

Also in Milan, the Trussardi Foundation – a “nomadic institution” established in 1996 – carries out projects that bring together contemporary art and city spaces through the eye of international artists.

Among the many projects, Elmgreen & Dragset’s “Short Cut” of 2003; the solo show of Sarah Lucas at the Diurnal Hotel Venice in 2016 and this year the installation of Ibrahim Mahama at the bastions of Porta Venezia.

In the next edition of Miart 2020, the intervention “The collectivity project” by the Danish artist Olafur Eliasson awaits us, which will invite citizens to build their ideal city from Lego bricks.

At the head of the Foundation which boasts prestigious collaborations with the Tate Modern in London, the Kunsthaus in Zurich and the Venice Biennale, are the women of the Trussardi family: Beatrice, Maria Luisa and Gaia supported in turn by private patrons and by companies that participate as sponsors.

Elmgreen & Dragset, “Short Cut”, Milan, Italy, 2003

 

In Italy many important projects have been launched thanks to the foresight of fashion-related personalities with a strong passion for art: in Reggio Emilia the desire of Achille Maramotti – founder of Max Mara and passionate collector – to create a collection of contemporary art takes shape already in the 70s. The works, representative of artistic trends from 1945 until today, are initially exhibited in some spaces of the establishment until 2003, when the old Reggio Emilia complex will be transformed into a real exhibition space dedicated both to the permanent collection and to temporary exhibitions for emerging artists.

The collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery has also led to the birth of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, a biennial award aimed at supporting young female artists residing in the United Kingdom.

Another important recognition is the Furla Prize – now in its 10th edition – which has seen great names in contemporary art alternate in the role of artistic consultants and jury presidents such as Joseph Kosuth, Michelangelo Pistoletto, Kiki Smith and Vanessa Beecroft. The Foundation of the same name, established in Bologna in 2008 by Giovanna Furlanetto, supports and encourages young Italian talents with a view to future development through various training projects.

Not least is Hugo Boss, who makes a great contribution to contemporary art with the biennial prize of the same name.

Established in 1996 and coordinated by the Guggenheim in New York, it does not provide any kind of limitation for age, sex or nationality and in addition to the recognition of a prize of $ 100,000, the work of each winning artist is presented in a personal exhibition at the museum.

In addition to the ones mentioned, there are many foundations that operate in Italy in promoting culture and the protection of the historical-artistic heritage, as in the case of the Benetton Foundation of Treviso, established in 1987 and concentrated on the protection of cultural heritage or like the Zegna Foundation in Trivero (2000), in the Biella area, an aggregation centre that blends culture and nature in an ad hoc project that focuses on site-specific works of art.

The great protagonist in terms of foundations, however, is France, a country in which the proliferation of these cultural activities is also aided by the generous tax breaks according to the Aillagon law of 2003, called the “patronage law” which has introduced important tax reliefs (even up to 60%) for those who invest in art.

The passion for art that guides the two great tycoons and collectors Francois Pinault (Kering group) and Bernard Arnault (LVMH group) – whose rivalry is known – pushed them to create important exhibition and cultural places, not only in Paris.

Pinault – one of the greatest collectors of contemporary art – between 2006 and 2009 inaugurated Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana in Venice, spaces restored and set up by Tadao Ando, where exhibitions are regularly organized also with the involvement of artists in the creation of site-specific works.

The Japanese architect was also involved in the design of the new museum of the Pinault Collection, which will open this year and will be located in the historic building of the Paris Stock Exchange.

 

Paris Stock Exchange

 

Francois Pinault at Punta della Dogana, Venice, Italy

 

Chiharu Shiota, Installation view, Le Bon Marché, Paris, 2017

 

The “rival” Arnault, another great patron, opened the futuristic and highly visited Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris in 2014 based on a design by Frank Gehry, a structure that has become an emblem of 21st century architecture and already a work of contemporary art in itself.

Arnault’s commitment is aimed at promoting French and international contemporary art, with a special focus on music and sound art.

The Foundation organizes important exhibitions which also have the merit of making incredible private collections known to the general public.

 

Louis Vuitton Fondation, Paris, France

 

Bernard Arnault

 

In 2018, the very famous Galeries Lafayette opened a space for contemporary art in the Marais on a project by Rem Koolhaas, – architect who also restored the Milanese headquarters of the Prada Foundation – “Lafayette Anticipations” as the name suggests, it is a centre of innovation with the aim of creating new artistic and cultural heritages through workshops, ateliers, debates and performances.

 

Lafayette Anticipations, Paris, France

 

But when did the first contaminations between art and fashion start?

We have to go a little back in time, until the early 1900s when the dialogue between the two disciplines was explored by Art Nouveau artists applying their aesthetic conceptions to women’s clothes intended as artistic clothes not conforming to the fashion of the time.

One of the first to try his hand at fashion creations is Gustav Klimt, creating highly innovative clothes for the Viennese atelier of Emilie Flöge – his muse and companion.

The precious decorative style with small tesserae blends with the modern cut of the clothes, giving life to an experience that will remain unique in the context of the Art Nouveau.

Gustav Klimt and Emilie Flöge

 

Portrait of Emilie Flöge, 1902

 

Shortly afterwards Sonia Delaunay, an artist who with her husband Robert carried out research on the perception of light and colour, converges these studies first on applied art and then also on fashion by creating colourful and abstract fabrics.

They were responsible for the first experiments with geometric prints on fabrics that had a strong impact on fashion by opening up a particularly innovative line that will also be developed in the years to come by other artists and stylists.

The close connection between the two areas that materializes in Delaunay’s clothes finds its theoretical consideration in the book she wrote in 1927, “The influence of painting on fashion”.

In her “Simultaneous Workshop”, the first tailoring works that dictate the rules of French fashion of the 1920s and 1930s were born, so much so that the great couturiers of the time competed to win one of her designs.

Sonia Delaunay, Simultaneous Workshop

 

Sonia Delaunay, fabric prints

 

With the historical avant-gardes of the early 1900s, the relationship between art and fashion became even more symbiotic and it was the futurists – interdisciplinary par excellence – who were among the first to perceive the potential of dressing in a colourful, eccentric and unconventional way.

Supporters of a revolution that embraces every aspect of daily life, for futurists even clothing must reflect the dynamic ideal as opposed to the grey of the bourgeois suit, and in 1914 Giacomo Balla presented the “Manifesto of the anti-neutral dress”.

 

Giacomo Balla, “Anti-neutral dress”, 1914

 

Giacomo Balla, “Anti-neutral dress”, 1918

 

Avant-garde experiments also come from the Bauhaus which, starting from 1920, has included the weaving workshop in its program where new stimuli and stylistic innovations are born.

The influence of Klee, Kandinsky, Moholy-Nagy and Itten on Annie Albers – who works on the basis of pure colours and geometric shapes – favour the affirmation of trends towards abstraction, with the result that fabrics and patterns will increasingly resemble with geometric paintings.

Annie Albers, “Wall Hanging”, 1926

 

Annie Albers, “Preliminary Design for Wall Hanging”, 1926

 

Abstraction and geometries have entered the collective imagination and the homes of thousands of women also thanks to Pierre Cardin, visionary stylist who created structured clothes made with unconventional materials, inspired on the one hand by the theme of space and the moon landing, on the other, precisely to the experimentation of the avant-garde on geometric motifs.

Excellence in the world of fashion, he was inspired by stylists such as Issey Miyake for the creation of sculpture-dresses and minimalist patterns.

Pierre Cardin

 

Issey Miyake

 

Little by little the dress becomes more and more a work of art in all respects – almost a support that replaces the canvas – and not just something to wear: this is the case of the “Filzanzug” felt suit created by Joseph Beuys in 1970 or the “Untitled shirt” by Roy Lichtenstein of 1979, which incorporates the Ben-Day dots technique of the famous canvases, up to the disturbing dress-provocation “Mur de la Montée des Anges” (1993) by Jan Fabre made up entirely of insects.

Roy Lichtenstein, “Untitled Shirt”, 1979

 

Jan Fabre, “Mur de la Montée des Anges”, 1993

 

Oscar Wilde said: “Either you are a work of art or you are wearing it.”

But is it still true today?

Today, more than ever, art is inspiring and, having come outside the museums, is addressing us directly.

 

“The Shades Of The Art Rainbow Are Endless: Choose Your Favorite!”

Art outside the museums

Part I

You don’t necessarily have to go to museums to experience the emotion transmitted by art because it blends into our daily lives.

It is with us every day and we can find it in the clothes we wear, in the design objects that decorate our homes and in the futuristic architecture of our cities.

Different areas mutually influencing each other have lost their boundaries: art offers an extraordinary contribution in almost all spheres of activity, inspiring various personalities such as architects, designers, stylists, graphic designers and advertisers.

Drawing on past or contemporary art contributes to the birth of unique and original creations, just think of the goals achieved by design: the balance between functionality and beauty brings it closer and equates it more and more often with contemporary art.

Even before responding to functional needs, modern buildings define a very precise image by getting closer and closer to the peculiar language of art in a dialogue between the two disciplines that is increasingly complementary, in total interpenetration.

In the new generation museums, the space that separates architecture from the work of art (the container from the content) is now eliminated, and the Guggenheim of Bilbao designed by Frank Gehry is emblematic of this radical change, a work of art in all respects and a tourist attraction that has become the symbol of the city.

The soft forms of the museum are a perfect example of deconstructivism, an architectural trend inspired by the works of Russian constructivists of the 1920s, who first broke the balance of the classical composition to create new geometries.

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

 

Art goes beyond tradition to support new ways of learning via the internet, and it is possible to visit museums, monuments and archaeological sites around the world for free and without leaving home.

The need to get a cultural experience at 360° also translates into the creation of virtual tours in many cities of art, the most recent promoted in Milan on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci.

Profiles and forms typical of art have not only entered architecture and design but – as we said – also fashion, making unique and original creative paths and exchanges.

Just look at the catwalks of recent years, full of tributes and references to art not only in clothes but also in scenography, often closer to artistic performance than to the presentation of seasonal collections.

The “museum” effect often accompanied the fashion shows of Dutch stylists Viktor & Rolf, from the homage to Van Gogh in 2014 to the clothes that recalled the action painting in the following year, but the most surprising was the collection dedicated to Picasso in 2016, when they literally transformed the models into living sculptures with asymmetrical monochrome looks so typical of Cubist works.

Viktor & Rolf, Haute Couture S/S 2015

 

Viktor & Rolf, Haute Couture F/W 2015-2016

 

Viktor & Rolf, Haute Couture S/S 2016

 

Picasso himself made his contribution to the world of fashion by creating a button for Coco Chanel and designing performance costumes for Diaghilev’s Russian Ballets – an occasion on which he met his future wife and muse Olga KhoKhlova.

Pablo Picasso, button created for Coco Chanel, 1920

Ceramic and enamel

 

Pablo Picasso, Curtain for the ballet “Parade” by Massine, 1917

Tempera on canvas, 1050 x 1640 cm

Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

 

Pablo Picasso, costume for the Chinese Conjurer for the ballet “Parade” by Massine, 1917

Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Theatre and Performance, London, UK

 

Moschino instead chose to give life to the most famous works of the Spanish painter –  from the pink to the blue period up to the Cubist abstractions –  in a S/S 2020 fashion show, to say the least, amazing.

Jeremy Scott’s models – between giant straps, gilded frames and decomposed woman profiles –  were perfect living works of art, personifications of the great master’s paintings.

Moschino, S/S 2020

 

The choice to pay homage and to be inspired by art does not only concern current events: in the past, great stylists have taken over famous artists and works, as in the case of Yves Saint Laurent with the “Mondrian Look” of ’66, a collection that incorporates the geometric designs by the Dutch painter who made history.

Yves Saint Laurent, “Mondrian Look”, 1966

 

About thirty years later, Gianni Versace paid homage to Andy Warhol with a great tribute on the occasion of the S/S collection of 1991, proposing the famous serigraphs of Marylin Monroe and other pop icons printed on polychrome silk dresses.

Gianni Versace, S/S 1991

 

Always Warhol – from ’62 to ’66 – in turn created a series of clothes inspired by his own works: “Fragile, handle with care” and “Campbell’s Soup Can” communicate the strong criticism towards the society, so typical of the production of the artist, who also manages to transform women’s clothes into a consumer icon. Perfectly in its style, art becomes merchandise and clothes become art.

Andy Warhol, “Souper Dress”, “Brillo” and “Fragile, handle with care”, 1962-66

Suits in paper, cellulose and cotton

 

The link between art and fashion is consolidated more and more, represented by frequent partnerships and collaborations between fashion houses and contemporary artists engaged in the creation of individual pieces or capsule collections: today the works of art can be seen on the covers of Vogue, in the videos of rappers like Jay Z, on Nike sneakers or Louis Vuitton bags.

Just the fashion house of Bernard Arnault’s LVMH group – which as we will see is strongly committed to promoting and supporting art – thanks to the creative director Marc Jacobs started a series of collaborations with various artists in the late 90s, including Cindy Sherman, Yayoi Kusama, Takashi Murakami and Richard Prince.

The Monogram bags have become some of the most iconic and best-selling fashion accessories of the decade, true works of art to wear, so much that the “Artistic collaborations exhibition” just ended at the Beverly Hills venue celebrated the 180 most charming models of all time of the House.

A collector Marc Jacobs, in turn, recently decided to sell part of his collection at Sotheby’s for New York auctions this November: over 150 works collected over 20 years, from the Impressionist masters to Andy Warhol via Ed Ruscha, the highlight of the collection.

Yayoi Kusama, handbag Monogram for Louis Vuitton, “Infinitely Collection”, 2012

 

Richard Prince, handbag “Monogram Jokes” for Louis Vuitton, Collezione S/S 2008

 

Alex Israel, handbag “ArtyCapucines” for Louis Vuitton, 2019

 

Staying in France, the Celine House has often distinguished itself for collections borrowed from the art world, such as the S/S 2017 line inspired by the famous anthropometric performances of Yves Klein.

The silhouettes of the models’ bodies are imprinted on white dresses like canvases in a shade that incorporates the International Klein Blue patented by the French artist.

In addition to this illustrious tribute, the fashion house has often collaborated with contemporary artists and the last in order of time is Christian Marclay for the S/S 2019 collection, an artist who was inspired by the world of music and comics for a collection who winks at rock.

Left: Yves Klein during a performance; right: Celine, S/S 2017

 

Christian Marclay for Celine, S/S 2019

 

Dior – in turn very active in the field of art – recently announced the collaboration with 11 female artists for the 3rd edition of Dior Lady Art, a collection that leaves carte blanche to the reinterpretation of the iconic bag.

This year also the Dior Men capsule was worked out by Kaws, redesigning the historic bee-shaped logo and transforming it into a witty cartoon in the style of the characters of his works.

Not new to experimentation even outside the strictly artistic sphere, Kaws had already collaborated with Nike, with Kenye West designing the cover of the album “808s & Heartbreak” and even in the graphics of the perfume “Love for fairer sex” by Comme Des Garçon in collaboration with the musician Pharrell Williams.

This is to show that the contaminations between different areas are always deeper and more complex.

Keith Haring, sneakers for Adidas

 

Album “The Velvet Underground and Nico”, 1967

 

For Marni too, the dialogue between art and fashion represents a continuous source of inspiration. Sally Smart, Ruth Van Beek and David Salle, Stefano Favaro and Christophe Joubert are some of the names related to the Italian house that has recently turned the spotlight on the theme of sustainability and the environment, a key to the reading clearly visible in the scenography of the last show and in the creations of the artists Shalva Nikvashvili and Kazuma Nagai for S/S 2020.

Sometimes collaborations also arise thanks to personal friendships, as in the case of Riccardo Tisci and Marina Abramovich, who on 11 September 2015 created the scenography of the parade to celebrate 10 years as creative director of Givenchy. The harsh setting between the skyscrapers of New York created with recycled materials was a metaphor for the reconstruction on the rubble, in homage to the symbolic date.

Marina Abramovic, catwalk created for Givenchy, S/S 2016, New York, 2015

 

When art and life intertwine, unique experiences are born, destined to make history, today as yesterday: in the 1930s Elsa Schiaparelli transposed the surrealist poetry on clothes and accessories thanks to her personal friendship with the artists of the calibre like Salvador Dalì, Man Ray and Jean Cocteau.

From these collaborations iconic pieces were born, such as the coat with drawer-shaped pockets designed by Dalì, inspired by the work “Venus de Milo with drawers” of 1936, the famous lobster print embroidered on the clothes or the hat in the shape of a shoe inverted (1933).

Salvador Dalì, “Skeleton” dress, 1938

Other creations by Salvador Dalì for Elsa Schiaparelli

 

Another current example of today is the link between the Venetian artist Nico Vascellari – Delfina Fendi’s partner – and the collaboration with the Italian fashion house, for which this year he played with the dualism of good-evil / light-dark, creating a walkway transformed into a sort of cave.

In 2018 Fendi sponsored the installation “Revenge” by Vascellari at Maxxi in Rome, thus strengthening the link with the capital and the world of art, increased in 2015 by the restoration of the Trevi Fountain and the opening in 2018 of Rhinoceros, the final seat of the Alda Fendi Foundation in a historic building renovated by Jean Nouvel.

The grand palace of art combines conservation and innovation by offering an avant-garde cultural laboratory in a neighbourhood that until today had not fully exploited its potential.

As we will see later, one of the many benefits brought by the foundations is starting the urban redevelopment processes: while in Milan Prada has rehabilitated an entire neighbourhood – in its wake, the ICA and numerous commercial activities have opened – in Rome the Alda Foundation Fendi turned the spotlight on one of the many places forgotten by the institutions.

 

“The Shades Of The Art Rainbow Are Endless: Choose Your Favorite!”

2019 – What a year!?

Without a doubt, 2019 will be remembered as a year of transition.

A year full of political and financial uncertainties which consequently also reflected on the art market.

Although the art world was confident, not anticipating major changes in Europe’s so-called “big apple” – London – Brexit led to the closure of some galleries and the opening of their headquarters from London to Paris, to name some of them: – White Cube, David Zwirner, Pace Gallery.

The year was enriched by the 58th Venice Biennale curated by Ralph Rugoff “May You Live in Interesting Times” which – as the title suggests – proved to be a true reflection of the climate of great changes we are experiencing, with works focused on current themes concerning international politics, environmental emergency and social problems such as the issue of migrants, the feminist movement, racial and gender equality.

On the occasion of the Biennale, the city’s foundations and museums have prepared exceptional exhibitions such as the retrospective on Jannis Kounellis at the Prada Foundation, Arshile Gorky at Ca’ Pesaro, the monograph on Georg Baselitz at the Academy Galleries, Luc Tuymans at Palazzo Grassi, Pino Pascali at Palazzo Cavanis and Alberto Burri at the Cini Foundation.

With a witty appearance the street artist Banksy, not officially invited to exhibit but also inevitable figure that this year has caused a lot of talk about himself, was also noted.

In addition to this performance followed by a mural in the Dorsoduro district, Banksy was able to anticipate and ride the Brexit wave with the work “Devolved Parliament“, strategically put up for sale by Sotheby’s on the occasion of the last London auctions prior to the exit of the Great Britain from the EU, marking the record for the artist with 11.1 million euros.

Always on time on occasions, this time anticipating Christmas, the artist offers his version of Santa Claus on a wall in Birmingham, rendering the tragic beauty of the holidays into flesh and blood.

Instead, Maurizio Cattelan, on the occasion of Art Basel Miami – after 15 years of absence – presented his new sculpture “Comedian“.

The edible banana attached to the wall with adhesive tape and priced at 120,000-150,000 $, was a winning strategic move to get the whole world talking about it, and it is clear that the old concept of the value we attribute to things is reconfirmed to be still very much popular.

Cattelan had leapt to the headlines already in September when his work “America“, a massive gold toilet, was stolen during his recent solo show at Blenheim Palace, Oxford.

2019 was a year characterized by very important retrospectives dedicated to great artists, such as Olafur Eliasson at the Tate Modern in London, Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy, Mario Merz and Cerith Wyn Evans at the Hangar Bicocca in Milan, the aforementioned Maurizio Cattelan at Blenheim Palace in Oxford, Lucio Fontana at the Metropolitan Museum in New York and many others.

The result of 4 years of work, with almost 80 works on display, I would say that the exhibition of the year was “The Young Picasso – Blue and Pink Periods” at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, where even the prestigious monograph on Rudolf Stingel had a huge feedback.

In international auctions the climate of uncertainty was recorded in the appearance of a smaller number of works valued above 20 million dollars, perhaps a symptom of a period of little confidence.

Despite this the general results were quite positive again this year, so much so that we have witnessed excellent records, including Jeff Koons who has reconfirmed himself as the most paid living artist in the world with the “Rabbit“, a sculpture of 1986, sold at auction in May by Christie’s New York for 91.1 million dollars.

It was a year of great changes for the historic Sotheby’s auction house – founded in 1744 – which passed into private hands following the sale last June: entrepreneur and collector Patrick Drahi bought the giant of the sector for 3, 7 billion dollars.

The main international trade fairs have registered excellent sales and the recently concluded Art Basel Miami, featuring a positive climate, seems to be no less so.

Similar to it, Frieze London has also enjoyed excellent feedback from the public and buyers, so much so that in the climate of uncertainty many have called it a bubble of happiness.

Also Fiac in Paris saw a great success both in sales and in public, a result obtained also thanks to the first benefits of the shift of interests.

The Turner Prize – established in 1984 – was for the first time assigned to all four finalists, Lawrence Abu Hamdam, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani.

The innovative proposal came precisely from the artists through a letter to the jury explaining that at such a difficult time, their choice to present themselves as a collective is a symbolic gesture in the name of sharing and solidarity, in art as in society.

Technology, including new startups, art created by artificial intelligences or Cryptoart – a market that involves only digital works of art to be purchased with digital currency is also playing an increasingly important role in the art world.

We are in the era of interactive images and many museums are moving to accommodate new methods of using and learning. In Italy, the M9 in Mestre and the MAV in Ercolano are an example, the new generation museums that use advanced technologies and immersive installations.

The desire to live a 360° cultural experience is increasingly leading to the creation of virtual tours in many cities of art, the most recent promoted in Milan on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci.

In recent years, online art sales have shown considerable growth (in double figures) and have produced revenues of about $ 6 billion, a sign that the art market – very traditional in structure and dynamics – is opening up more and more to new languages.

I imagine that the future of art will reserve us many beautiful surprises and also in 2020 there will be fun!

 

“The shades of the art rainbow are endless: choose your favorite!”

Artexit

October is about to end and Brexit – now at the door – could change the games.

In a positive or a negative way?

It is a question that everyone is asking, but apparently doubts about what could or could not happen for now remains uncertain, pending the agreement between the parties.

London – considered the “Big Apple” of Europe – has a very important role and position within the art market and its success is due in particular to the English regulatory model, which sees import taxes at 5% – the lowest in the EU – and Brexit could represent another opportunity for Great Britain to be even more competitive on the global market, implementing a regulatory review closer to its competitors USA (0%) and China (3%).

European Union legislation, with its complex bureaucracy and costly administration, allegedly penalized the London market by placing it in a position of disadvantage compared to its big rivals, New York and Hong Kong.

Brexit could therefore represent an interesting opportunity for Great Britain, free from the constraints of the EU, but it could also lead to a significant weakening of the market, since the exit from the European Union will stop the funds and financing of which the United Kingdom and its many museums and galleries have benefited from, not to mention individual artists.

An example of the monumental sculpture “Angel of the North” (1994-1998) by Antony Gormley located in Gateshead, was financed exactly thanks to EU funds.

Already at the time of the referendum many internationally renowned artists such as Tacita Dean, Wolfgang Tillmans, Michael Craig-Martin, Banksy, the aforementioned Antony Gormley and many others – had taken the side in favour of staying within the European Union by actively joining to the “Remain” campaign by creating works of art, posters and slogans.

Strong concerns were also expressed by historical institutions and institutional roles – from the director of Tate Nicholas Serota to Martin Roth – director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, also worried about the consequences of the lack of European subsidies dedicated to research.

But it’s not just about funding. In addition to the disappearance of legal and economic facilities, the possible weakening of investments and the impact on the economy in general, other obstacles such as export licenses will also have to be taken into consideration.

Many of the leading players of the art-market are in fact evaluating a possible withdrawal of the works deposited in London, as Larry Gagosian, who apparently has already begun to move assets from London to the offices of Athens, Basel, Geneva and Paris.

Certainly London will no longer represent the world airport for the importation of works within the European Union and it is precisely the French capital that is preparing to take up the baton, having the second lowest European taxation with 5.5% .

Some important galleries – including White Cube, David Zwirner, Pace Gallery – are already planning to open Parisian offices and the city is ready to reap the rewards of moving capital, a situation that could therefore favour the French market.

Conversely, the galleries that have scheduled shows from November onwards have been organized in advance to bring the works to Great Britain, in order to avoid the risk of new rules on customs duties.

For now, despite the uncertainties, London continues to maintain its central role – just think of all the museums, galleries, international fairs and auction houses that have their headquarters here – and the good results obtained from the auctions just concluded and from the fair Frieze confirm it.

Regardless of favourable predictions or not, what emerges is the important repercussions on the global market implied by the United Kingdom leaving the European Union that make the close correlation between art, politics and the economy even clearer.

 

“The shades of the art rainbow are endless: choose your favorite!”

Sparkling “Summer Show”

Summer Show

Curated by Linda Bajàre

On June 20, the exhibition “Summer Show” was opened, an intriguing artistic project curated by Linda Bajàre which presents the international artists Artis Nīmanis and Aivars Kisnics in Italy.

Scheduled until September 5, the exhibition is held at the prestigious Palazzo Matteotti in Milan, immersed in the atmosphere of the Italian capital of luxury, just a few steps from the Quadrilatero della Moda.
The Dedica Anthology, a new luxury hotel brand, is a vibrant part of the city and a fascinating depository of unique and authentic stories that are also told through temporary exhibitions like the Summer Show.

The works of the two Latvian artists interact with the exclusive spaces of Palazzo Matteotti, creating an exhibition itinerary that welcomes the visitor from the moment he enters and accompanies them to the Gallery Hall, the main hall of the exhibition.

The essentiality of the forms and of the sign are traits that unite Artis Nīmanis and Aivars Kisnics, like the profound manual skill that shines through in their works: the works exhibited – 21 in total – are charged with feeling, emotion and intense colors capable of enchanting the viewer offering a journey to infinity.

Despite being very different from each other, the echoes and references between the two artists are continuous and their works interpenetrate each other: the 14 canvases by Kisnics range from delicate and almost monochrome oils on canvas to bright, passionate color compositions that emit all the energy of the sea and summer; as well as the 7 sculptures of Nīmanis play with the theme of water, of carefree games on sunny days.

Equipped with a strong expressive charge, painting and sculpture are the two forms of art with which Latvian artists want to focus attention on the importance of technical research and experimentation on the subject.

From the “interior landscapes” of Kisnics, where skilfully superimposed pictorial layers on the canvas embody the mutability of the conditions and moods of the most important “forces of nature” – the sea and the human being – to the rigor and sinuosity of the forms of Nīmanis’s works that, thanks to the luminescence of the glass and the metallic reflections of the materials, capture the viewer’s gaze on a journey to infinity: Summer Show by the curator Linda Bajàre represents the impetus of a wave that guides the artistic research of two Masters able to amaze and excite the observer, bringing a breath of color and freshness to an exhibition dedicated to the effervescence of summer.

“All my works are multi-layered abstractions, composed of ten to thirty layers of color, carefully studied to enhance every mood,” says Aivars Kisnics, recounting his works: abstract landscapes that tell of sunsets, sunrises, wind and mirrors of water, horizons and chromatic games linked to the theme of the sea.

Next to them the magic of the sculptures by Artis Nīmanis dialogues, where glass, gold, silver and bronze bring us back, in a game of mirrors and visual effects rendered by light, to the origin of the universe: mysterious places to discover, in which each of us, as in a maze, can find his own intimate and personal path.

ARTISTI PRESENTATI:

ARTIS NĪMANIS
Latvia 1978

Artis Nīmanis is one of the best known Latvian artists: his works have been exhibited both in personal and in group exhibitions all over the world, including Europe, America and Asia. During a period of time that lasted about twenty years, Artis Nīmanis managed to achieve a unique technique thanks to a constant work of experimentation and research on the art of glass processing: the innovative method patented by him is at the base of the creative process of the artist, who manages to achieve a unique result by expertly combining glass and precious metals. This technique is based on a very particular procedure during which the glass, in the absence of air, is coated with a very thin layer of metal that gives the characteristic “mirror” effect to the glass surface. The fragility of glass, combined with a great variety of materials such as gold, silver, bronze and copper, make these sculptures even more mysterious. The originality of the works, the visual effects, the light emanating from the works of Nīmanis mean that the artist opens a door to a magical and mysterious world rich in unexpected transparencies. Glass, gold, silver and bronze bring us back to the origin of the universe in a game of mirrors and visual effects rendered by light: mysterious and undiscovered places, where each of us, as in a maze , can find its own intimate and personal path. To further increase this magical atmosphere given off by his works, the artist pays special attention to light: the different faceted surfaces of the glass create further optical effects and illusionistic combinations. Nīmanis in fact always creates optical illusions in his sculptures and for this reason the use of the mirror in his works plays a fundamental role, capable of giving his impressive technique a very high quality. The marked aesthetic sense of stylized forms, lines, rhythm, impulse, emotion and sensuality, and the treatment and perception of the fluidity of art, make Nīmanis appear among the greatest European glass artists.

AIVARS KISNICS
Latvia 1955

Born and raised in Latvia, Kisnics approaches art from a young age, participating in numerous painting and photography competitions. During the times of Soviet occupation he is forced to abandon the art, to carry out the career of captain of ship in the Baltic Sea. From 2005 he resumed painting and devoted himself completely to the oil technique on canvas of the school of abstract expressionism. The close relationship with the sea, where he spent most of his life, is the common thread and the source of inspiration for his paintings, where he transmits the emotion that the seascapes give, the beauty of dawn and the magic of sunsets, moments of perfect calm and serenity, in contrast with the strong energy of the storms and the torment of the waves.
In Kisnics’ painting nothing is left to instinct as the violent jet of color might suggest, each brushstroke is carefully considered with a rigor and evident technical precision, like a drawing in which the colors are mixed in a meticulous and orderly manner.

 

 

“The shades of the art rainbow are endless: choose your favorite!”

 

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Something we don’t see

The Nicola Trussardi Foundation presents “A Friend”, a monumental intervention by the artist Ibrahim Mahama at the toll booths of Porta Venezia, a site-specific installation curated by Massimiliano Gioni visible from 2 to 14 April 2019.

The Ghanaian artist, as happened on the occasion of other important events including the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015 and Documenta 14 in 2017, wrapped Milanese bastions with jute bags from African markets that have been used for different types of goods, circulating around the world.

To completely cover the 5,000 square meters of the two structures, as many as 10,000 jute bags were used, mounted by 8 Alpine guides by special clamps, in order to avoid the use of nails that would have permanently altered the monuments.

The chosen place is emblematic for the memory and symbolism of the city as an entrance that marked the border with the countryside for centuries and outlined the relationship between Milan and the outside.

Porta Venezia, as a multi-ethnic neighborhood with a strong presence of other cultures, helps to read Ibrahim Mahama’s work both in the context of Milan and that of today’s Italy: the reflection on the concept of threshold, of the relationship between oneself and the other, the external/internal dichotomy is extremely current in a historical moment full of tensions towards everything that can be defined as “foreign”.

The toll booths, places closely connected to the outside world, also evoke all the complexities of the ethical and political aspects concerning the traffic of goods destined to travel around the world, in clear contrast with the alienation of the manpower that creates them.

The Ibrahim installation has the merit of entering the fabric of society so that it can be enjoyed by all and arouse an interesting public debate in a context that is connected to Christo’s interventions in the 1970s. If the “packaging” of the Bulgarian artist was a criticism of growing consumerism, today the intervention of Mahama tells and denounces worrying global tensions.

The worn and jammed jute bags, which in Ibrahim’s work are synonymous with gauzes that plug the wounds, also refer to the research conducted by Alberto Burri.

The title “A Friend” has the function of remembering all the people who have worked and still work in the creation of the bags and in the trade in objects, people forgotten and erased from the collective memory despite each of us dealing with these goods and products on daily basis.

For Ibrahim Mahama this work is a way to remind ourselves that behind every object, behind each of these bags there are hundreds of millions of stories and potential friends, voices and thoughts.

 

“The shades of the art rainbow are endless: choose your favorite!”

 

The curious world of photography

It is a sector experiencing a significant development and strong growth demonstrated by the increase in global sales, a positive trend reported by all international observers.

The ability to speak to a wide audience and specifically to attract many beginners in art collecting are the characteristics and strengths of a medium that is increasingly imposing itself worldwide, able to excite a wider range of people than classical or traditional techniques seen as more “elitary”.

In Italy this segment remains in minority compared to other countries, but the opening of new spaces entirely focused on photography means a step forward to its full recognition.

Also the initiatives of auction houses, such as Bolaffi, Finarte and Il Ponte, to reserve more and more spaces and dedicated catalogues for this special sector speak of constantly increasing numbers of enthusiasts collecting art.

The last auction house to go in this direction is Cambi of Genoa, which last December debuted in Milan with an entire catalogue dedicated to it, receiving an excellent public response.

It must be said that the Italian catalogues perhaps have the flaw of being rather cautious, with their proposals often more oriented towards historical and “classical” authors: the works are usually in black and white of the photographers – humanists or some other genres, and there are few proposals of more “avant-garde” or emerging artists.

In terms of the offer, Blindarte is the most dynamic; Finarte, for now, seems to be the only one to have really invested and bet, also in terms of international competitiveness: in 2017 it achieved the best result as a catalogue dedicated to photography.

Many collectors traditionally interested in “more classical” techniques – painting and sculpture, are now approaching photography, turning it into an integral part and completion of already structured art collections. But the opposite is also happening, in other words, amateurs who have always been linked solely to the new medium, born only in 1826, also begin to approach painting, a new trend born thanks to the experiments of international artists who create a mixture between the two genres, where photography and painting are featured in the same work, changing and influencing the way of collecting.

Today Mia Photo Fair concludes, the most important international photography fair in Italy, now in its ninth edition under the direction of Fabio Castelli, open to the public on March 22nd at The Mall in Piazza Lina Bo Bardi.

There are 85 galleries, one third of which are international: 58 Italian, 27 from European countries and 4 from non-European countries plus a host nation, South Korea, to which are added exhibitors and special projects for a total of 135 exhibitors.

The fair born in 2011 is always notable for so many presences, contributing to relaunch and promotion of this medium, especially in terms of the general public.

As in past editions, there will be plenty of opportunities to study the different areas and facets of artistic practice.

Understanding the market dynamics to define the value of photography is one of the key topics of the in-depth analysis proposed at the fair, also in order to disseminate the evaluation tools of this medium.

This year the winner of the BNL Prize Group BNP Paribas is the Chinese Liu Bolin with “Mosé, San Pietro in Vincoli”, a work from 2018 that will become part of the banking group’s collection. The artist is known throughout the world for his photographic self-portraits, characterized by the mimesis of his own body with the surrounding landscape.

The “Beyond Photography” focus is very interesting, investigating the ways and meaning of photography in relation to the world of contemporary art.

New this year the Mia Photo Fair Architecture Photography Award was given to the “Urban Self-Portrait” (2010-2015) project by Anna Di Prospero, and the Rossana Orlandi Award was won by Isabella Accenti and Massimo Pelagagge, which will allow the two artists to exhibit in the gallery of the same name.

There are many international trade fairs dedicated to photography, such as Paris Photo, Photo London and PhotoFairs Shanghai, up to satellite fairs such as Photo Basel, “younger daughter” of in conjunction with Art Basel. The local Arte Fiera of Bologna in the last edition has a special section dedicated to “Photography and moving images”, which was attended by 18 specialized galleries.

Here are the next appointments with the spring photography auctions:

02 April, New York: Christie’s

04 April, New York: Phillips

05 April, New York: Sotheby’s

April 15, Milan: Boetto

April 18, Milan: Finarte

May 16, London: Sotheby’s

May 16, London: Phillips

05 June, Milan: Cambi Casa d’Aste

June 13, Milan: Il Ponte

 

“The shades of the art rainbow are endless: choose your favorite!”

Women in Art

The Women’s Day is not just a celebration to give mimosas, but it is also an opportunity to reflect on the status of women, on the rights they have won and on the goals yet to be achieved.

Recently the #MeToo movement, started in America in October 2017, has helped to stir up consciences and then spread to reach worldwide importance, leading to a wave of reports of violence and harassment suffered by women.

The movement was recognized as being so important that it was included in the third place in the ArtReview 2018 Power List, ranking on the most influential personalities of the art world drawn up each year by the authoritative British magazine, famous for indicating and anticipating new trends.

Also Frieze London, on the occasion of the 2018 edition, came forward to the recognition of the female world by introducing “Social Works”, a section dedicated to eight female artists active between the 80s and 90s who tried to challenge the art market and that stood out in the feminist movement for a strong political and social commitment. The aim was to reduce the male dominance in the art world and shed light on the marginal role that women play in terms of visibility and market.

A leading figure in the feminist movement of the 1970s is Judy Chicago (Chicago 1939), an American artist who has always fought for a recognition of the role of women in art and is considered among the most influential personalities of the debate.

She was echoed by Nancy Spero (1926-2009), a great supporter of the emancipation of women, a pioneer of feminist art and very active also against wars, injustices and abuses of all kinds.

Chiara Fumai (1978-2017), an Italian artist who prematurely passed away and who has always placed a reflection on the role of women at the centre of her intense performances, also denounced male chauvinism. Milovan Farronato chose her to represent Italy at the next Venice Biennale with Liliana Moro (1961) and Enrico David (1966).

About 79 invited artists will be presented at the festival in the lagoon, also Ludovica Carbotta, an Italian who lives and works in Barcelona, ​​and Lara Favaretto.

The Rabat Biennial (Morocco), which will take place in April, will present an all-female edition, exhibiting 60 female artists from different parts of the world. Even more interesting choice since the Biennale takes place in a Muslim country, traditionally not very open to the emancipation of women. The event curated by Abdelkader Damani will be held at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Mohammed VI, but will also see the involvement of other exhibition spaces in the city.

Body Art and Performance have been the favourite expressive means of many artists especially for the immediacy and the emotional impact that they have the power to arouse in the public. In addition to the aforementioned Chiara Fumai, also Gina Pane, Vanessa Beecroft, Marina Abramović, Ana Mendieta are united by having put the body at the centre of their research.

Also Cindy Sherman (1954), an artist currently among the most quoted, uses her body as an expressive medium, but prefers photography. Sherman creates conceptual self-portraits in which she reflects on today’s society’s obsessions and denounces the female stereotypes that are imposed by cinema, television and glossy magazines.

In addition to the serious problem of the commodification of the female body, it seems that women do not receive due recognition not only in the intellectual but also in the economic sphere. According to a recent study, it seems that even in the art world women earn less than men, with a difference in auction prices for paintings created by men or women.

A disparity of treatment we hope will go away also thanks to initiatives such as the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, a biennial prize created in 2007 by Iwona Blazwick (director of the Whitechapel Gallery) and composed of an all-female jury that supports women artists in the UK.

The winner of the last edition is Helen Cammock, an English-Jamaican multidisciplinary artist who uses different mediums like photography, performance, poetry and music and has always been committed against prejudices such as being black and being a woman.

Another prestigious award given to contemporary British artists, the Turner Prize, was awarded in 2018 to Charlotte Prodger (1974), a video artist who proposed a reflection on the landscape and gender identity.

Like them, many other artists have had the skill and tenacity to fight and stand out to be able to emerge in a male world.

One example is Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), who holds the world record for the work of an absolute dearest female artist with the painting “Jimson Weed/White Flower No.1” sold for over $ 44 million. during a Sotheby’s auction in 2014.

Follows Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010), who with the monumental sculpture “Spider” has reached 28 million dollars in 2015 also from Sotheby’s in New York.

In the field of sculpture, Camille Claudel (1864-1943) and Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) distinguished themselves, two great artists who had to face many difficulties linked to that historical period in order to express their creativity and innovation.

Hepworth, friend of Henry Moore and wife of Ben Nicholson (also an artist), avant-garde pioneer, has embraced the use of direct carving, a sculptural technique introduced by Brancusi that does not include the use of the terracotta model. Mother of three twins in a historical period that certainly did not facilitate the rise of a woman, Barbara Hepworth was nevertheless able to establish herself in the world of art.

But which are the most popular artists? In addition to those already mentioned, the abstract expressionist Joan Mitchell, Agnes Martin, Sonia Delaunay, Tamara de Lempicka, Carla Accardi, Niki de Saint Phalle and Frida Kahlo, among others, are experiencing great media attention, and recently, in the first months of 2018, also the Mudec of Milan dedicated a large retrospective to them.

Recently Maria Lai (1919-2013), a Sardinian artist known especially for her “embroideries”, who during her artistic career has used various media such as weaving, embroidery, drawing and sculpture, is experiencing strong and renewed interest. Her work “Bed Sheet” of 1989 was a new record for the artist during the Christie’s auction “Thinking Italian” on 4 October 2018, reaching £ 150,000 (including interest) from a starting estimate of £ 20,000-30,000.

Turning to the living artists, it is Jenny Saville (Cambridge 1970), the brightest star, who is proclaimed as the most expensive woman artist in the world thanks to the work “Propped” sold for more than 9 million pounds at the Sotheby’s auction in London on 5 October 2018. The painting is particularly significant because, besides being a self-portrait of the artist herself, she overturns and challenges the aesthetic canons that impose a vision of the idealized and flawless woman’s body.

Yayoi Kusama, known for the Polka Dots that characterize her works, also had to fight against sexism. She is a highly rated artist, and a documentary film is now on screens about her unconventional life – since 1977 she has been living and working in a psychiatric hospital in Japan for her choice. The artist herself is speaking about the difficulties to succeed in establishing herself in a male-dominated world such as that of the American art in the 1950s when she moved from Japan to New York.

Many women artists are also socially committed to fighting important battles to improve the living conditions of the less fortunate.

Kara Walker (1969), an African American artist who has always been linked to the fight against racism, explores issues related to violence, sexuality and slavery suffered by the coloured people over the centuries. She uses different media, ranging from the collage technique to installations or drawings, all united by the representation of black silhouettes on a white background. Starting in October, the Tate Modern in London will host the works of Walker that will take the baton of Tania Bruguera for the fifth edition of the Hyundai Commission.

Cady Noland (1956) is instead engaged in a critical analysis of the most immoral aspects of American society, such as the morbid curiosity towards brutal crimes or the exaggerated exaltation of male virility.

Other contemporary “stars” are Jenny Holzer, Tracey Emin, Bridget Riley (one of the greatest exponents of Op Art) and Julie Mehretu, whose large canvases are inspired by the densely populated cities typical of our time.

The London artist Cecily Brown (1969), always poised between abstraction and figuration, obtained yesterday (7 March) a great result at Phillips’s Evening Sale London with “Armed and Fearless”, the work of 2014, reaching the quote of £ 1,755,000 including the premium from the estimate of 600,000-800,000, also reaping applause in the sales room.

The list of deserving female artists is – fortunately – very long and it would be impossible to name them all, we can only hope that the day arrives when it will no longer be necessary to make any kind of clarification because we will be – really – all the same.

 

“The shades of the art rainbow are endless: choose your favorite!”

Robert Ryman, American Master of Minimalism, Passed Away

Robert Ryman, great representative of minimaism, died on Friday 8 February at his home in New York. He was 88 years old.

The fascinating journey of Robert Ryman, a self-taught master, is a perfect embodiment of the American myth of the “self made man”: having arrived in New York with the idea of ​​becoming a jazz musician, he is hired as a security guard at the MoMA where he makes friends with Sol LeWitt and Dan Flavin who will have a great influence on the development of his future research.

Among the halls of the museum, Ryman is passionate about art, particularly impressed by Kazimir Malevich and abstract expressionism by Mark Rothko, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Agnes Martin.

From them he takes inspiration when he starts painting in 1955, the year of his first monochrome painting “Untitled (Orange Painting)”, but it is only later that he will begin a systematic investigation insisting on the infinite potential that a single color – white – offers.

The variety of techniques used such as oil, acrylic, casein, tempera, gypsum and enamels, combined with an equally wide variety of supports such as metal, paper, linen and cotton combine to shape each time a different imprint, towards a spasmodic search for the expressive potential of color characterized by artisan quality and rough elegance.

The rigorous investigation of monochrome white on white painting by Robert Ryman nullifies the apparent simplicity of his paintings, aimed at representing infinite variations of painting as a subject in and of itself.

The artist has not always avoided the use of color that, especially at the beginning of his career, has been hidden under a more superficial layer of white, a recovery of the visible/invisible binomial that refers to an underlying reality that is not perceptible, the concept subsequently used also by other artists.

Robert Ryman, Untitled

1961

 

The relationship between painting and light was at the center of the research that led Ryman to the conviction that every single detail contributes to the experience of the viewer and that each work interacts with the surrounding environment, especially with the wall (usually white) and with light.

Let us remember that in parallel also in Europe a revolutionary artistic movement was born with some similar needs, open to a radical change in the use of monochrome – often white, materials, interaction of lights and shadows: Gruppo Zero, a movement to which great Italian artists like Piero adhered Manzoni, Lucio Fontana and Enrico Castellani.

Piero Manzoni, Achrome

1958-59

 

Robert Ryman had his first solo show in 1967 at the Bianchini Gallery in New York followed by an important Solo Show at the Guggenheim NY in 1972; has repeatedly participated in the Venice Biennials and the Whitney Biennals, as well as important solo and group exhibitions all over the world.

In 1993, exactly 40 years after being hired as a security guard, a large retrospective dedicated to the artist was organized at the MoMA.

 

“The real purpose of painting is to give pleasure”

Robert Ryman

 

“The shades of the art rainbow are endless: choose your favorite!”

Main Art World Events of 2018 in 5 Minutes

Also 2018 is about to end and the time has come to summarize the main events and market trends that have emerged over the past twelve months.

What are they?

Among the absolute novelties is the entry of the creative expression generated by the artificial intelligence into the algorithmic art market. The Parisian collective “Obvious” has been noted with “Portrait of Edmond de Belamy”, a canvas sold at Christie’s auction for € 380,228. The work was created using a mathematical formula that at the end of a complex calculation gave the result on the canvas with a jet of ink. If art by definition is a creative, emotional, reflective expression, a person’s creation, and is appreciated for these reasons, it is to be seen whether this type of “artistic intervention” that excludes improvisation and human genius will find space in the market also in the long term.

This was the year of the 12th edition of Manifesta, a nomadic biennial that brought the whole art world to Palermo, a city little accustomed to contemporary art that has been able to enchant visitors with its traditions and historical-artistic beauties that sometimes they have even overshadowed the contemporary works of the event. The Biennale for this city was a great occasion also promoted by the presence of strong Palermo collectors, opening the doors of their homes for a few connoisseurs. Numerous international artists have participated in investigating the geopolitical, social and ecological phenomena of today with “The Planetary Garden. Cultivating coexistence “. In evidence the painful and current theme of migrants, a wound of today’s world.

Moving to the north, the new “Sound” section dedicated to contemporary sound investigations was widely accepted at Artissima Torino. The fair in general is always of a good standard and much appreciated, with the participation of many important foreign collectors.

Certainly it was a remarkable year for Alberto Giacometti, after the biggest retrospective proposed by the Tate Modern in 2017, this year a dialogue show with Francis Bacon equally exciting at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, at the Guggenheim in New York and Bilbao, at Musée Maillol in Paris, at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec.

After long waits in July, the Alberto Giacometti Foundation opened its doors to the new “Giacometti Institute” exhibition site in Paris, which houses an archive of almost 400 works including sculptures and paintings, 5000 drawings and the reconstruction of the artist’s studio. Amusing  is the historical-contemporary dialogue proposed by the installation artist Annette Messager on display in the Foundation. A winning choice by the artist, spouse of Christian Boltanski, who bears the same name as the wife and muse of Giacometti.

Mario Merz, another great Italian artist, is celebrated at the Hangar Bicocca in Milan with a retrospective dedicated to one of the most iconic artistic research, the “Igloos“, grandiose constructions that accompanied his activity from 1968 until his death. For the first time, gathered in a single space, the thirty great works constitute a sort of village and can be visited until November 24, 2019.

Adrian Piper is the first living artist in the history of MoMA to receive the entire sixth floor of the institution for a major retrospective that brought together installations, abstract compositions and videos. After the MoMA in New York the exhibition will be exhibited at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and at the Haus der Kunst in Munich. Piper, who received the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2015, has always focused on the major American social problems such as racism, class divisions and misogyny.

A very positive year also for Tomás Saraceno, protagonist of the 4th edition of “Cartes Blanches” at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris: visiting “On Air”, you find yourself in an immersive and dreamlike atmosphere in which Aerocene is revealed, an interdisciplinary artistic project that intertwines high mathematics, physics and chemistry using a team of highly specialized experts and figures. A truly extraordinary exhibition that highlights the profound preparation of the Argentine artist and his great originality with an absolutely different proposal than any other artist. The floating spheres of Saraceno also flew this year to the eighteenth-century Karlskirche church in Vienna and to Manifesta in Palermo, while at Art Basel Miami Beach the artist planted upside down umbrellas designed to capture solar energy on the beach. Listed in the list of the most influential artists of 2018 alongside great figures from the art world. Congratulations Tomás and best wishes for an even brighter 2019!

A name that surely always enjoys strong interest from art lovers is Jean Michel Basquiat. He was dedicated a grandiose retrospective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton Paris with the important collection of works from museums and private collections. Absolutely to see, ends January 14th! Also in London the artist had a major retrospective at the Barbican Gallery which ended last January, which brought together more than 100 works from museums and private collections.

A year full of awards also for one of the greatest figurative artists of the early twentieth century, Egon Schiele. 100 years after the death of the Austrian artist, the Louis Vuitton Foundation dedicated a retrospective to him, showing the 100 most significant works of his short life. The Leopold Museum in Vienna has also dedicated a beautiful exhibition to him until March 10, 2019, while the Royal Academy joins Gustav Klimt, another great Austrian master, in an unprecedented dialogue that sees their designs as protagonists.

The revolutionary acts have always characterized the art of Banksy who has still been talked about thanks to the unexpected performance that took place during the London auction of Sotheby’s. It was a real surprise for the bidders in the hall when they saw the work “Girl with Baloon” just sold for £ 1,042,000, self-destructing thanks to a mechanism hidden inside the frame that reduced the work into small strips. About a month after this coup de theater, a major exhibition on the artist was inaugurated at the Mudec in Milan, the first monographic exhibition hosted in an Italian public museum. “A Visual Protest” collects about 80 works and promises to be a public success as the retrospective on Frida Kahlo ended in June. Among unauthorized exhibitions, claims on social networks and the discovery of new works – the last appearance in Wales on the night of Tuesday 18 December – the Bristol artist does not miss a beat in terms of popularity.

Who are this year’s winners?

One of the most prestigious annual awards for an artist, the Turner Prize, was awarded to Charlotte Prodger who presented the video work “Bridgit” made with the mobile phone in which thoughts on mythology, landscape and gender identity are intertwined. The hallmark of her research is the very introspective character of the films, aimed at revealing the contradictions of our time. Prodger was also chosen to represent Scotland at the Venice Biennale in 2019.

At our house is Fabrizio Cotognini, the winner of the 19th edition of the Cairo Prize with the work “Aurora”, a reworking of two original 18th century engravings, on which the Marche artist applied gold leaves, white lead and pencil in a close dialogue between past and present. An interesting proposal precisely because in relation to the values ​​of ancient art, the artist uses precious materials and gives a second life to the milestones of our history.

This tendency to revive a sort of revision of the old masters is becoming increasingly popular and Cotognini is not the only artist to have fun with the ancient world dressed in contemporary clothes. Fabrizio Cotognini this year was the protagonist of a solo show at the Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation in Turin as well as exhibitions in various galleries and exhibition spaces; he also participated in Manifesta12.

Simone Leigh, who has always been committed to combating the marginalization of black women in particular, is the winner of the Hugo Boss Prize that will take her to exhibit at the Guggenheim in NY in 2019. This year Leigh also had her first solo show at Luhring Augustine in New York, where a sculpture depicting a huge woman dominated almost entirely the gallery space.

Helen Cammock is the winner of the 7th edition of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, a prestigious biennial award in collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery that promotes young British artists. Cammock, of Jamaican origins, has developed an interdisciplinary approach that has led her to a reflection on the emotionality of mourning, on the sound of the voice that becomes lamentation in an interpenetration between singing, music and writing. Thanks to the prize the artist had the opportunity to spend six months in six Italian cities – a sort of traveling artist’s residence – in order to create a new project that will be exhibited at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2019 and then included in the Maramotti Collection. In our country, Helen Cammock has conducted research in various fields such as the Baroque opera, poetry, dance to understand the expressive modalities of emotion in Italian culture.

There was a great rediscovery of ceramics, seen not only as a craft material but also as a precious support for contemporary art, which began to apply this precious material in sculptures of visionary or hyper-realistic forms. More and more galleries are in fact specializing in this direction and many artists use porcelain, ceramics and stoneware for their work. Bertozzi & Casoni were among the first to achieve great recognition by focusing on the various aspects of this extremely versatile material, but they are certainly not the only ones. Picasso, Fontana, Peter Voulkos are among the illustrious names of the past who have experimented with this technique; at the same time Hirst, Ai Weiwei, Takuro Kuwata and The Haas Brothers and many others are the emerging contemporaries. There are more and more fairs dedicated to ceramics.

The real “king” of 2018 is David Hockney, crowned as the most expensive living artist in the world thanks to the sale by Christie’s New York of “Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures)” of 1972, become the most expensive beaten work in the auction of an artist still alive. Sold for $ 90.3 million (about € 80 million), five years later it exceeded Jeff Koons’ previous record with the 1994 work “Orange Balloon Dog” sold in 2013 for $ 58.4 million. Accomplices of the great success were the recent retrospectives dedicated to Hockney, one of which was held at the Metropolitan in New York in addition to that of the Pompidou Center. Gerhard Richter is still on the podium, one of the most important European artists of our time, very shy and equally critical of today’s market dynamics.

The trend of the auctions has confirmed high and stable quotations for some young artists such as Adrian Ghenie, Avery Singer, Nicolas Party, Jonas Wood. The most popular are Basquiat, Peter Doig, Rudolf Stingel, George Condo, Antony Gormley. Christopher Wool, Mark Bradford, Richard Prince, Tauba Auerbach, Jenny Saville and Kerry James Marshall also enjoyed great recognition thanks to various exhibitions and the activity of gallery owner David Zwirner. Also Kaws, who surprises us with his always entertaining works, for some time now has been making large collections at auction, followed by Shepard Fairey which records a very high number of lots sold at auction, but for the latter we must consider that 90% of these are mostly prints that do not exceed $ 1,000.

If you look at our local art, in addition to the historicized names, Maria Lai, Carol Rama and Leoncillo stand out, who are experiencing a rediscovery by collectors, including foreigners, as evidenced by the excellent recent results at auction. If 2017 ended with a very strong interest in the Italian conceptual art of 50s and 60s, this year there was a greater appreciation for contemporary art and with the desire to bet on names that are still of little trend.

A steady rise in appreciation towards the African art has emerged; the interest rising for a new, interesting and different market is a bit like it was a decade ago for contemporary Chinese art. Several factors contributed to the growth of this sector, including the interest of great collectors such as Jean Pigozzi, some important exhibitions and the opening of museums of contemporary African art such as the Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town and also galleries that have specialized in this area. Fairs like “1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair” in London and “AKAA – Also Known As Africa” ​​in Paris did the rest, making contemporary African art known to the general public. Some established African artists with very high prices are Kerry James Marshall, El Anatsui, Julie Mehretu, Chérie Samba.

The Chinese market, while remaining in second place as a global player, is a bit suffering although there are interesting proposals as evidenced by the prices reached by established artists such as Zeng Fanzhi, Ai Weiwei and Zhou Chunya.

Some women artists who have enjoyed little consideration by critics and the public are experiencing an important reassessment. Frieze London moved towards this direction by introducing “Social Works”, a section dedicated to eight artists active between the 80s and 90s who challenged the art market and who stood out for their strong political and social commitment. Jenny Saville redeems women by becoming the most expensive female artist in the world thanks to the result of “Propped”, (work of 1992) sold for £ 9.5 million. May this strong wave of feminism that pervades the entire art world be also due to the #MeeToo movement?

What do the researchers say?

From the analyses of the past year it seems that the feminist reflections have sprung up also thanks to #MeeToo, placed third in the ranking “Power 100 most influential people in the contemporary artworld 2018”. A year after the Weinstein scandal, questions are still being asked about the repercussions and how this movement has also influenced the world of art. In the first place of the ranking we obviously find the gallerist David Zwirner, elected the most influential man in the art world, while the silver medal goes to the artist Kerry James Marshall, result perhaps also due to the great results at auction as for “Past Times” of 1997 at $ 21.1 million.

There is a lot of talk about the increasingly predominant role of guarantees in auctions all over the world, a policy that helps auctions attract some of the best works.

According to estimates, this year the number of guaranteed lots has increased by 53% and guarantees are becoming a reference point for the value of a work. To be totally dependent on it is the high end of the market, which sees the use of these increasingly frequent, which could be a sign of short-term financial speculation.

Will the forecast of the Sotheby’s CEO Tad Smith be true, which predicted that the art market in 2019 will be more subdued than at the beginning of 2018? The assumption could be supported by the slight contraction in sales recorded in postwar and contemporary art auctions.

There is great anticipation for the opening in January of ICA Milan, the first Italian institute for contemporary art that follows the London model established in 1946. Private non-profit foundation, the exhibition center will be directed by Alberto Salvadori which aims to create a contemporary arts laboratory in which international artists will create site-specific works accompanied by a vast interdisciplinary program that will involve the public. Milan reaffirms itself as the Italian city most attentive to the contemporary art, and the Porta Romana district, with the presence of ICA, the Prada Foundation and a large redevelopment project, will be even richer in cultural initiatives.

To steal the scepter of queen of the contemporary, Venice will take care of the 58th Biennale of Art and the curiosity about the Italian Pavilion curated by Milovan Farronato will grow more and more, presenting the works of Enrico David, Liliana Moro and Chiara Fumai.

In short, it was a very interesting year and full of unexpected events.

We hope that 2019 is even more sparkling and dynamic, we’ll see!

Happy New Year to all!!!

“The shades of the art rainbow are endless: choose your favorite!”