ANSELM KIEFER IN THE LOUVRE
Visitors to the Louvre face a long walk to get to Athanor, the museum’s new commission by German artist Anselm Kiefer. At the end of the Sully Wing in this high-ceilinged former palace, a visitor must climb a flight of stairs, and there it is: Kiefer’s 33-foot-tall, 14-foot-wide painting of a prone, naked figure, lying in actual dirt with the firmament above him dusted with gold and silver particles. Niches in the two flanking walls are filled with powerful, metal sculptures by the artist, whose studio is in the south of France. "Athanor" is an alchemical term referring to a self-feeding furnace that provides a uniform temperature for transformative experiments.
The installation of Athanor was celebrated with "Drawings / Boundary / Drawings," Nov. 1, 2007-Jan. 28, 2008, a special exhibition of 90 works on paper selected by Kiefer, displayed in the Louvre’s drawing galleries in the museum's southwest section -- at the opposite corner of the museum from Athenor, requiring a trek through the entire museum to see both exhibitions in one go. But those who made the trip were amply rewarded. A connoisseur’s delight, the exhibition suggested that Kiefer has the taste, or perhaps the scholarship, of an erudite specialist in Baroque art.
A third component of Kiefer’s work at the Louvre is available primarily to the flâneur. Exiting the Louvre Rivoli Metro station, a passerby on the rue Place du Louvre where it meets rue de Rivoli can look up at the northeast corner of the museum, and through the end window catch a glimpse of Athanor, strangely lit at night. Talk about alchemy. It’s the only painting in the museum you can look at when the place is closed.
WEBSITE FOR "PROSPECT.1 NEW ORLEANS"
Supercurator Dan Cameron, visual arts director at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) in New Orleans and founding director of the new Prospect.1 New Orleans biennial, has launched a website for the ambitious art show. Called "the largest biennial of international contemporary art ever organized in the United States," the exhibition features works by 75 artists displayed in 100,000 square feet of exhibition space at various sites in the city, from CAC and the New Orleans Museum of Art to converted warehouses and commercial spaces. Designed to help revitalize the city in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the show runs Nov. 1, 2008- Jan. 18, 2009. A list of participating artists is due in March 2008.
DUELING ART FAIRS FOR LOS ANGELES
Two art fairs are on tap for the city of angels this week. The Los Angeles Art Show, Jan. 23-27, 2008, got out of the gate first, with more than 125 galleries setting up at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica. Sponsored by the Fine Art Dealers Association (FADA), and now incorporating the International Fine Print Dealer Association’s Los Angeles Fine Print Fair, the show boasted Los Angeles mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa as the honorary chair of the opening night gala, which benefited the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Special features at the Los Angeles Art Show include "Art Collectors’ Boot Camp" led by art critic and journalist Jori Finkel, and a panel discussion chaired by critic David Pagel called "Surreptitiously Yours: Art Politics and Do-it-yourself Anger Management." Participating galleries include Bobbie Greenfield Gallery (Santa Monica), Charlotte Jackson Fine Art (Santa Fe), Flowers (New York / London), Gemini G.E.L. (Los Angeles), Paul Thiebaud Gallery (San Francisco) and Spanierman Modern (New York). For a complete list of dealers, see www.laartshow.com. General admission is $20.
Art LA 2008, Jan. 25-27, 2008, is smaller, with 60 galleries presenting their wares at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Designed to "spotlight the Los Angeles art scene" while also bringing influential international galleries to town, the fair is arguably more cutting-edge as well, including Galerie Catherine Bastide (Brussels), Gavin Brown’s Enterprise (New York), Canada (New York), the Happy Lion (Los Angeles), Haunch of Venison (London / Zürich / Berlin), Tomio Koyama Gallery (Tokyo) and Patrick Painter (Santa Monica). For a complete list of galleries, see artfairsinc.com
Among the highlights is a 3D lounge space by Rirkrit Tiravanija, incorporating the work of local graffiti artists, at the booth of Galeria Emi Fontana (Milan), and a crushed, 35-seat bus by Italian artist Piero Golia at the booth of Bortolami (New York). Regen Projects is presenting a "smockshop" by artist Andrea Zittel in its booth. The opening night gala for Art LA 2008 benefits the Hammer Museum. A one-day pass to the fair is $15.
GERMANS TAKE THE BOWERY
Still more heat is coming for the Lower East Side art scene. As part of a push to expand the reach of its programming, the hip uptown German cultural organization the Goerthe-Institute is opening a new satellite art space, Ludlow 38, at the eponymous address on the Bowery between Grand and Hester streets, not too far from the New Museum. While the Institute is providing the administrative support, it has tapped the Munich-based culture lab Kunstverein München to organize programming for the first year. The Kunstverein’s Stefan Kalmar serves as creative director, and the space is said to be not necessarily Teutonic in focus, but rather a showcase for the kind of "social exchange" that his home institution promotes, with a focus on "collaboration and innovation." Funding is provided by the MINI.
Up first for Ludlow 38 is "Publish and Be Damned," Feb. 9-Mar. 23, 2008, organized by British curators Kit Hammonds, Sarah McCrory and Emily Pethick. In keeping with the democratic artistic values that the space hopes to promote, the show consists of an archive of 300 international publications, celebrating DIY creativity in a variety of forms. Expect works from the likes of Jeremy Deller, Nils Norman, Raymond Pettibon and Stephan Willats, along with less-known figures like Pablo Bronstein, Aline Bouvy, Eleanor Brown, Spartacus Chetwynd, Sonia Dermience, Stephan Dillemuth, Scott King, Cathy Lomax and Meeuw Muzak.
THE MET’S MULTICUTURAL NIGHT
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Multicultural Audience Development Initiative with "An Evening of Many Cultures," a lavish gala benefit scheduled for Jan. 24, 2008. Designed to focus attention of the diversity of the Met’s collection and programming, the gala boasts new installations by Kara Walker and El Anatsui, not to mention Latin jazz, traditional Chinese Guzheng music and native American Fancy Shawl dancing. Also on the menu is a banquet of international cuisine served in the Temple of Dendur hall. Honors will be handed out during the event to MADI founding members Lowery Stokes Sims and Richard V. Clarke. Tickets are $600; for more info, click here.
Folkestone -- a resort town on the south coast of Kent in England -- is hosting the inaugural Folkestone Triennial this summer, June 13-Sept. 13, 2008, under the theme "Tales of Time and Space." The new art festival offers up a roster of 23 artists, selected by curator Andrea Schlieker. Expect work from David Batchelor, Christian Boltanski, Adam Chodzko, Nathan Coley, Tacita Dean, Jeremy Deller, Mark Dion, Tracey Emin, Ayse Erkmen, Jeppe Hein, Sejla Kameric, Robert Kusmirowski, Langlands and Bell, Kaffe Matthews, Heather and Ivan Morison, Nils Norman with Gavis Wade, Mit Simon and Tom Bloor, Susan Philipsz, Public Works, Patrick Tuttofuoco, Mark Wallinger, Richard Wentworth, Pae White and Richard Wilson.
RED BULL ART CONTEST
Red Bull, facing stiff competition in the energy drink market, continues to make aggressive moves into art branding [see Artnet News, Aug. 14, 2007]. The quirkily titled "Red Bull Art of Can" contest is making an open call for artworks in any media inspired by Red Bull or its can, offering a first place winner an all expenses paid trip to this year’s Art Basel in Switzerland, and second place a trip to Art Basel Miami Beach. Third place receives "a customized local art experience." About 35-40 pieces of Red Bull art be featured in the "Art of Can" exhibition, July 11-25, 2008, in a custom-designed art space at the Galleria in Houston. Registration is open through Apr. 6, 2008 -- see www.redbullartofcan.com
CHARLES RAY’S HINOKI TO AIC
The Art Institute of Chicago doesn’t open its $300-million Modern Wing until May 2009. But in the meantime, the museum is moving on some major acquisitions for its spacious Renzo Piano-designed galleries. One highlight is Charles Ray’s colossal Hinoki (2007), an exact 2,100-pound replica of a 38-foot-long felled oak tree, meticulously constructed from hundreds of rectangular blocks carved by a team of master Japanese craftsmen in Osaka. Hinoki was first exhibited last year at Regen Projects in Los Angeles. The museum didn’t give the financial terms of the acquisition, but the work is estimated to carry a price tag of $5 million; Ray’s auction record is $2.2 million, set in 2000 for Male Mannequin (1990, edition of three).
Another big installation slated for its own gallery in the AIC Modern Wing is Jenny Holzer’s Blue Tilt (2004), a suite of six, 16-foot-tall, double-sided vertical LED signs. The texts for the work constitute "a sort of retrospective" of Holzer’s work from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s. A third AIC acquisition is a collection of nearly 20 video works from the holdings of AIC patrons Donna and Howard Stone. Artists in the collection include Doug Aitken, Pierre Huyghe, Isaac Julien, William Kentridge and Shirin Neshat.
HIGH-END FURNITURE FOR HIGH MUSEUM
The High Museum of Art in Atlanta is doing its part to promote sophisticated contemporary design. The museum has commissioned new works from artists Jurgen Bey and Tejo Remy, both members of the Amsterdam-based Droog design collective. Bey’s Tree Trunk Bench begins with a mockemut hickory tree from the Atlanta Botanical Gardens (removed as part of an overhaul and expansion), adding custom-made chair backs to form a bench. Remy, who is celebrated for transforming mismatched, recycled drawers into functional "furniture assemblages," is constructing just such a Chest of Drawers for the High. The museum has initiated a statewide call for furniture parts (volunteers are asked to submit a photo of their drawers, and their dimensions -- see www.high.org/drawerproject). The Dutch commissions are set to be installed sometime in spring 2008.
MARIA DE CORRAL NAMED CURATOR IN DALLAS
The Dallas Museum of Art has named one-time Venice Biennale curator María de Corral as acting "Hoffman Family Senior Curator of Contemporary Art" for 2008. The newly created position is funded by a $5 million gift from DMA patron and Coca-Cola bottling heiress Adelyn Hoffman. De Corral organized last year’s "Fast Forward" exhibition at the institution, featuring art from the collection of the Hoffman family as well as two other Texas collectors. The duties of her new position include advising the DMA on who might fill the position permanently.
SULTAN TO PARRISH
Terrie Sultan has been tapped to serve as new director the Parrish Art Museum in Southhampton, N.Y., taking the reins in April 2008. Sultan has served as director of the Houston’s Blaffer Gallery since 2000, having previously worked at the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, among other institutions. She succeeds Trudy C. Kramer, who announced her retirement last year after 26 years at the Parrish.
PHILIP CONISBEE, 1946-2008
Philip Conisbee, 62, curator of European paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., died of complications of lung cancer on Jan. 16. Born in Belfast, Conisbee grew up in London, studying at the Courtauld Institute of Art and teaching at various universities in the UK. He moved to the United States in 1986, becoming curator of French painting at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and then curator of European painting and sculpture at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In 1993, he joined the staff of the National Gallery of Art, where he organized blockbusters including "Van Gogh’s Van Goghs" in 1998 and "Cézanne in Provence" in 2006. In 2004, he was awarded the Légion d’honneur by the French government for his promotion of French culture.