TURNER PRIZE OR FLATLINE PRIZE?
British art critic Richard Dorment may think that the shortlist for the 2009 Turner Prize is "the strongest in its 25-year history," but the Stuckists -- founded in 1999 to promote figurative painting -- beg to disagree, even though the group of four Turner Prize finalists includes Enrico David, who is something of a figurative painter. Calling the Turner "the Flatline Prize" (it has been "dying for some time" and now "shows no heart or brain activity"), Stuckist co-founder Charles Thomson claims that the Tate, which sponsors the prize, is on an "anti-painting crusade," ignoring the tastes of the majority of its audience.
Thomson goes on to note that the Stuckist’s free buttons from 2008, which read "The Turner Prize is crap," were particularly popular with students. In the past, the Stuckists have demonstrated outside the Turner Prize exhibition dressed as clowns; this year, the group is "considering dressing as undertakers."
In addition to David, the 2009 Turner Prize shortlist includes Roger Hiorns, who coats objects and entire rooms with bright blue copper crystals; Lucy Skaer, who makes subtle and slight sculptures and installations; and Richard Wright, a Glasgow-based artist who works with paint and gold leaf directly on the wall. The Turner Prize 2009 exhibition takes place at Tate Britain, Oct. 6, 2009-Jan. 16, 2010.
INTERNATIONAL FINE ART FAIR GETS FRESH
The unfortunate economic circumstances that prompted veteran art-fair organizers Brian and Anna Haughton to cancel the Asian Art Fair last month has led them to redouble their efforts to promote the International Fine Art Fair, which opens at the Park Avenue Armory, May 1-5, 2009. Despite being exclusive and even aristocratic, the fair is now taking several steps to enlarge its audience, advertising on New York City buses and on banners on Park Avenue. Free tickets to the fair -- admission is usually $20 -- can be downloaded on several websites, including the New York Social Diary. And perhaps most dramatic of all, the catalogue to the show has now gone digital, and can be downloaded from the Haughton’s own website.
Though the fair is down about a dozen exhibitors (to 40 participants), many of them Europeans who blanched at trans-Atlantic shipping costs, it also boast several new participants, including Jonathan Boos from Bloomfield, Mich., Rehs Galleries from New York and Wienerroither & Kohlbacher from Vienna. Among the many stalwart exhibitors at the show are Didier Aaron, Babcock Galleries, Mark Borghi, Galerie Boulakia, Thomas Colville Fine Art, Richard Green, Hill-Stone, Hollis Taggart, MacConnal-Mason, Moretti, Jill Newhouse and Adam Williams Fine Art.
JAMES ENSOR AT MOMA
One highlight of the upcoming summer schedule at the Museum of Modern Art is "James Ensor," June 28-Sept. 1, 2009, the first really big show of Ensor’s work in the U.S. in over 30 years. Approximately 120 works by the Belgian expressionist are featured, including two drawings from his monumental "Aureoles" series of 1885-86, The Lively and Radiant: The Entry of Christ into Jerusalem and The Rising: Christ Shown to the People, which have never before been seen in the United States. The accompanying 208-page catalogue is edited by MoMA curator Anna Swinborne, and includes contributions by a half-dozen Ensor scholars. The show is sponsored by Flanders House, a new cultural forum for Belgium in the U.S. Additional funding is provided by the Society of Friends of Belgium in America and by Maja Oeri and Hans Bodenmann.
DAMIEN HIRST: PAINTER
The return of global art impresario Damien Hirst to the solitary art of painting was heralded earlier this month with "Requiem," the yBa’s big show at the Pinchuk Art Centre in Kyiv. This coming fall, Londoners get a chance to feast their eyes on his new works as the Wallace Collection presents "Damien Hirst: The Blue Paintings," Oct. 14, 2009-Jan. 24, 2010. The 25 works were made during 2006-08, and are designed to be "deeply connected to the past," Hirst says -- thus their debut among the Old Masters on the silk-covered walls of the Wallace. One of Hirst’s preoccupations is the memento mori, and the show includes works titled Floating Skull (2006), The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth (2008) and Men Shall Know Nothing (2008).
ART COLOGNE WRAP-UP
"Those who say they're not afraid are lying," gallery owner Petra Rinkh told the Deutsche Welle news service on the opening of Art Cologne last week. A week later, we have the demonstrably optimistic testimony of the Art Cologne organizers, who claim that "the global economic crisis was scarcely noticeable." Reported attendance was 56,500 -- topping 2008’s estimate of 55,000 -- with a "slimmed down" roster of 184 exhibitors, down from 249 last year. Among the collectors on hand were heavy-hitters like Christian Boros, Sabine DuMont-Schütte, Ingvild Goetz, Don and Mira Rubell and Anita and Poju Zabludowicz, as well as Harald Falckenberg, who won a special award for his patronage.
Reported sales included a painting by C.O. Paeffgen for €16,000 at Thomas Levy from Hamburg; Stephan Balkenhol’s sculpture Ikarus, which was featured on the sidewalk in front of the fair, and sold to a new client for a six-figure sum by Dietmar Löhrl; Fritz Winter’s oil Komposition 17, which sold for €190,000 at Utermann; Ernst Wilhelm Nay’s Spirale in Blau for €335,000 plus four studies for a Nay painting titled Die Jakobsleiter for €158,000 Bert Schlichtenmaier from Grafenau; Tom Wesselmann's Red Ending for €450,000 at Klaus Benden from Cologne; an oil painting by David Reed for $70,000 at Galerie Schmidt Maczollek from Cologne; and work by art-market newcomer Philip Loersch, completely sold out at the booth of Ursula Walbröl from Düsseldorf. "Everyone's happy," said Stuttgart dealer Edith Wahlandt.
Hamburg-born artist Julia Horstmann, represented by Art Cologne participant Galerie Nagel, won the €10,000 Audi Art Award, sponsored by the car company and earmarked for a promising your artist at the fair.
MURAKAMI DOES BARCODES IN JAPAN
This just in from Tokyo -- design blogger Jean Snow reports that the creative agency SET has teamed up with Takashi Murakami and Louis Vuitton to produce a custom-designed "QR Code" to promote collaborations between the artist and the design house. What’s a "QR Code," you say? Apparently, it’s a popular sort of barcode-like stamp in Japan, easily read by cell phones, used to access a webpage connected with a product. The new Murakami-themed version is a maze-like square, with a moon-eyed creature floating at the center. Sophisticated Japanese cell phones can scan the design, which leads immediately to Vuitton’s online store in Japan. Snow calls it "the coolest QR code ever."
JONATHAN DEMME COLLECTION AT FIAF
Silence of the Lambs fans get a chance to glimpse the art collection of film director Jonathan Demme when the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) in New York presents "Inspiration of Haitian Art," May 7-June 13, 2009, as part of its year-long "World Nomads" series devoted to the Caribbean nation. A long-time Haitian advocate and avid art collector, Demme is happy to advocate for the artists in his collection, including Wesner LaForest ("the mystery man of Haitian art"), Odilon Pierre ("a stunning example of great art being achieved under difficult circumstances") and Petersen Laurent ("one of the absolute ranking geniuses" of the "Masters of the Haitian Renaissance" group). Other featured artists are Maurice Altieri, Wilson Bigaud, Préfète Duffaut, Edgar Jean-Baptiste, Sénèque Obin, André Normil and St. Pierre Toussaint. More info at www.fiaf.org
SEX TALES FROM REV. JEN
Reverend Jen, the downtown art anti-star and sometimes Artnet Magazine columnist (see her archive here) has a new book! The opus is titled Live Nude Elf: The Sexperiments of Reverent Jen. As for the subject matter, well, you can’t really do better than the Amazon product description: "Live Nude Elf chronicles Reverend Jen's two-year stint as sex columnist for nerve.com; she details her ‘sexperiments,’ ranging from harrowing (working as a live nude girl at ‘Wiggles’) to embarrassing (fellatio school) to transcendent (reaching a mystical state through tantric sex). Along the way there is transvestitism, female ejaculation, opium smoking, and heartbreak." Don’t be shy -- order your copy today!
GRANTS FOR ART WRITERS
The Creative Capital / Andy Warhol Foundation is now officially taking applications for its 2009-2010 round of giving in its Arts Writers Grant Program. One of the few games in town for critics and other writers working in the visual arts to get a little moolah, the program offers grants of between $3,000 and $50,000 in a variety of categories, ranging from articles and books to blogs and "alternative media." Application deadline is June 8, 2009. Info is online at www.artswriters.org
VON LINTEL GALLERY TO WEST 23RD STREET
Good news. The Von Lintel Gallery, which had faced a setback due to a fire in its West 25th Street building, is relocating to a new ground floor space at 520 West 23rd Street in Chelsea, across the way from Van De Weghe Fine Art. Gallery founder Thomas Von Lintel reports that the inaugural show is "Marco Breuer, Part of Parts," May 7-June 13, 2009, a group of new photographs from five different series (including pictures made by shooting a 12-gauge shotgun at boxes of photo paper, in effect turning the boxes into primitive cameras).