ARTNET ONLINE AUCTIONS PASS $1 MILLION MARK
Artnet Online Auctions, Artnet’s own auction website that launched in February, has recently passed the $1 million mark in sales. The modest milestone marks slow but steady growth for the continuous, online auctions of modern and contemporary fine art, prints and photographs. Estimates range from $500 to $100,000, with most set under $10,000. Typically, auctions last ten days, with 100 works on offer at any one time. The sales have a notably low seller’s premium of 10 percent, with a flat $25 listing fee.
Browsing the sold lots reveals that the top five are prints by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst, selling for prices between $20,000 and $30,000. A vibrant watercolor of a succulent Watermelon Slice by Janet Fish went for $6,800, and a 1964 print of a comic-strip Girl by Roy Lichtenstein, his second Pop Art print and the first to use a blond young woman, sold for $3,300. Real prizes could also be found at the low end, including a John Szoke Editions desktop model in walnut and stainless steel of an A-Z Homestead Unit by Andrea Zittel that sold for $600, and Alexander Calder’s ca. 1972 poster-like "McGovern for McGovernment" print, which sold for $550.
Upcoming works of art available on Artnet Online Auctions include Karen Kilimnik’s The Sparkly Splendid Lippanzanner at the battle of Austerlitz, a 2008 Giclée print with hand-applied glitter estimated at $1,500-$2,000, and Helmut Newton’s sexy Cyberwomen 6 photograph from 2000 (from an edition of 500), estimated at $2,000-$3,000.
ARTISTS RIDE THE "VOMIT COMET"
Today the art world experienced another first when an adventurous group of artists was shot into the stratosphere aboard a parabolic airplane, ordinarily used to train cosmonauts, in order to experiment with art-making in zero gravity conditions. Having gone through "intensive training" at Star City, a military base northeast of Moscow, the three-person art team was rocketed 23,000 feet into the heavens, where their plane performed maneuvers that allowed them to experience ten 23-second bursts of weightlessness.
If this sounds like an outlandish stunt, just wait, it gets better. The expedition was led by London-based artist Nasser Azam. Currently artist-in-residence at the County Hall Gallery (located right underneath the London Eye, and home to the Dalí Universe), the 44-year-old Azam was until recently a chief operating officer at investment bank Merrill Lynch. Before joining the business world in 1983, however, he had been a painter, a vocation that he returned to in 2006 during a bitter divorce, creating paintings and sculptures that explore the effects of motion and tension on the human body. While planning the voyage, Azam also managed to get fashion designer Alexander McQueen to devise for him a custom leather jump suit, according to the BBC.
Accompanying Azam on this flight of fancy were two other artists. Newcastle-based Lyn Hagan planned to perform Cat and Mouse in 0g, according to her website, subjecting a cat and mouse to the repeated bouts of weightlessness to see how they would react. Bristol artist Luke Jerram, meanwhile, was set to use his weightlessness to create an homage to the falling corpses thrown from the Twin Towers during the 9/11 terrorist attacks. (Eight other artists, including the Australian "cyborg artist" Stelarc and Brooklyn-based Nin Brudermann had been scheduled to particulate, but opted out "for various reasons.")
So, how did it go? According to the Associated Press, Hagan’s project saw the cat and mouse "change places," as the cat appeared much more frightened of zero gravity than the mouse -- though both feline and artist became ill after three dives on the plane. Jerram, however, was unable to complete his performance before vomiting and being strapped back into his chair by medical personnel. Azam, finally, was able to complete his triptych, titled Homage to Francis Bacon, without incident, and can claim to be the only artist so far to have worked in zero gravity without losing his lunch.
HAIRCUTS FOR PEACE AT MCA, CHICAGO
Just opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, is "Utopia Station," July 4-27, 2008, an exhibition drawn from the museum’s books collection featuring posters made on the theme of "utopia" by a variety of artists for the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003. And accompanying this show, artist Erin O’Brian is staging her own utopian gesture, Peace Salon. The work, next set to be staged on the MCA plaza July 18 and 19, from noon to 5 pm, has the artist offering to shave off the hair of any visitor "willing to make a commitment to peace" -- for free -- recreating a gesture that she herself enacted on Veteran’s Day 2007.
ART FAIR BIENNALE FROM LA ART GIRLS
LA Art Girls, the collaboration Los Angeles group last heard of when it restaged Allan Kaprow’s Fluids back in April 2008, is launching its own "art fair biennale" for the summer. The LA Art Girls Art Fair Biennale Los Angeles 2008, otherwise known as LAAGAFBLA08, takes place at Phantom Galleries LA in downtown Los Angeles, July 10-Aug. 23, 2008. Participants include Stephanie Allespach, Tricia Avant, Allison Behrstock, Carolyn Castano, Krista Chael, Sydney Croskery, Karen Dunbar, Catherine Daly, Amber Fox, Phyllis Green, Leila Hamidi, Micol Hebron, Parichard Holm, Ellie Kervorkian, Leigh McCarthy, Amitis Motevalli, Claudia Parducci, Nancy Popp, Sarah Riley, Ambika Samarthya, Kim Schoenstadt, Felis Stella, Ten Terrell, Kelly Thompson, Elizabeth Tremante, Shana Torok and Marjan Vayghan.
MAYA LIN "WAVEFIELD" AT STORM KING
Storm King Art Center, the 500-acre sculpture park located an hour or so north of Manhattan in Mountainville, N.Y., has commissioned artist Maya Lin to design a major earthwork for the park. Dubbed Storm King Wavefield, the sculpture consists of seven rows of hills, made of reclaimed earth and covered with topsoil and native grasses, forming an undulating "wavefield." Each berm, or "wave," measures between 305 and 268 feet long, and rises to a height of ten to 15 feet. The work formally debuts in spring 2009.
SOUND ART IN SAN JUAN
The First Puerto Rican Sound Art Fair takes place at La Respuesta nightclub (the former Galería Comercial) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aug. 15-17, 2008. The inaugural edition is designed to showcase local artists; the organizing committee includes Lisa Ladner, Jorge Castro and Omar Obdulio Peña Forty. For further details, see www.el-status.com/fas
ROCKEFELLER AT 100
The New York State Museum and the nearby Empire State Plaza in Albany open a special four-part exhibition to commemorate the 100th birthday of former New York governor Nelson A. Rockefeller, July 8-Oct. 12, 2008. The show includes the late governor’s official car (a 1967 Lincoln Continental limousine), campaign memorabilia, a model of the Empire State Plaza (a $1.7 billion urban renewal project eventually festooned with public art works) and a selection of artworks acquired by Rockefeller, including Andy Warhol’s Portrait of Nelson Rockefeller and pieces by Philip Guston, Grace Hartigan, Seymour Lipton, Kenzo Okada, James Brooks and Conrad Marca-Relli.
YVON LAMBERT OPENS IN LONDON
Veteran French art dealer Yvon Lambert, who currently operates galleries in Paris and New York, is inaugurating a new gallery in London this fall. Located in a 7,000-square-foot former municipal building on Hoxton Square, the new space opens on Oct. 16, 2008, with an exhibition of works by Mexican artist Carlos Amorales.
COTTAGE HOME BOWS IN LOS ANGELES
Three cutting-edge Los Angeles galleries -- China Art Objects, Sister and Thomas Solomon -- have joined together to open a new space called Cottage Home in a 4,000-square-foot former movie theater in the city’s Chinatown district. The space debuts with "I can see for miles," July 12-Aug. 16, 2008, a group exhibition of works by artists from each gallery: Bjorn Copeland, Rob Thom (China Art Objects), Davis Rhodes, Kirsten Stoltmann, Matthew Spiegelman, Jeni Spota (Sister), Troy Brauntuch, Brad Eberhard, William Eggleston, Isa Genzken (Thomas Solomon). For further info, see www.cottagehomela.com
TWO LONDON ANTIQUE DEALERS TO CLOSE
Two top London antique dealers are closing shop and selling their inventory in a joint auction at Christie’s. The two firms are Hotspur, which was established in 1924, and Jeremy, which was founded in 1946; both are stalwarts of the annual Grosvenor House Antiques Show, and have showrooms on Lowndes Street in Belgravia. The move seems spurred not by a weakness in the market but rather by the allure of retirement: Robin Kern, who heads Hotspur, reportedly wants to spend more time at his house in France, and John and Michael Hill, who jointly run Jeremy, are both in their 60s. The auction at Christie’s is scheduled for November 2008.
GRANTS FROM TERRA FOUNDATION
The Chicago-based Terra Foundation for American Art has announced a series of grants aimed to promote exhibitions and education at major institutions. Grantees are the Guggenheim Museum, which gets $250,000 for its "Doors of Perception: American Art and Asia" show in 2009; the New York Historical Society, which receives $184,000 to fund Dutch- and German-language catalogues for its exhibition, "A New Light on Tiffany: Clara Driscoll and the Tiffany Girls," set to be seen at the Singer Laren Museum in the Netherlands and the Museum Villa Stück in Munich in 2009; and the Paris-based institution Jeu de Paume, which gets $75,000 to host the travelling show, "The Art of Lee Miller," organized by London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
In the education category, Terra is offering $450,000 to fund "new historical American art teaching fellowships and guest professorships in London, Berlin and Paris" at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, the Freie Universitat in Berlin and L’Institut National d’Historie de L’Art in Paris; $42,000 for "Terra Travel Grants," to send three doctoral students to these same three European institutions; and $52,000 to support free education programs in 2008-2009 at Northwestern University’s Block Museum.
JORGE L. BARTLETT, 1957-2008
Jorge L. Bartlett, 50, Miami-based performance artist and painter who worked under the pseudonyms of Kman and Art Kendallman, died on June 28, 2008, after having gone missing a week earlier. Among his recent actions was the opening of the Kendallman Art Gallery Ambulante -- a plastic box on wheels with drawers, billed as "the smallest art gallery in the world" -- on a street corner in Miami’s Wynwood Art District, and an elaborate plan to invade Puerto Rico as a work of performance art. Videos of the performances are posted on YouTube.
Bruce Conner, 74, prolific multimedia artist known for experimental films and scabrous installations and collages, died of natural causes at his home in San Francisco on June 7. Born in McPherson, Kan., Conner studied art at Wichita University, the University of Nebraska and Brooklyn Art School, moving to San Francisco in 1957 and becoming an active participant in the era’s thriving counterculture scene. In the ‘60s, he pioneered a particular brand of assemblage art, featuring debased materials such as scrap wood, nylon stockings and clippings from pornographic magazines. Playing with ideas of authorship and throughout his career, he declared himself "retired" in 1999, but continued to create detailed ink drawings under the name Emily Feather. A retrospective of Conner’s work, titled "2000: BC The Bruce Conner Story, Part II," toured national venues in 2000.