Frieze London 2015 Sales Reports




The Little Black Book of Billionaire Secrets

Damien Hirst Goes For $1.2 Million At Frieze London

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Frieze London and Frieze Masters saw numerous million-dollar sales over the past week. At Frieze London, 2015 Damien Hirst went for over $1.2 million at Frieze London this week. The piece, “Holbein (Artist’s Watercolours),” was sold at White Cube’s booth within the first hour of the art fair, and depicts the hues of the renowned Japanese watercolor manufacturer. Lisson Gallery sold Ai Weiwei’s “Iron Root” for €500,000, while at Kurimanzutto, a Gabriel Orozco went for $900,000. At David Zwirner, British artist Chris Ofili’s “Midnight Cocktail” painting went for $750,000.

Over at Frieze Masters, Marlene Dumas’s “Magdelena” went for £3.5 million at the Hauser & Wirth/Moretti Fine Art booth. Other million dollar sales include a $2.27 million Gunther Uecker, called “Weibe Spirale,” a latex-and nails-on-canvas piece, at Cardi. David Zwirner sold Bridget Rilley’s (2009/1970) work “Vapour 3” for $1.4 million. At John Gunther Rare Books, a Simon Bening went for €3.8 million.



What Sold at Frieze London

By Alexander Forbes

Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

The 13th edition of Frieze London comes to a close today. With the economic forecast hazy, especially for increasingly important art market centers in Asia, worry was rife ahead of the London fair’s opening that 2015 would be a slow year for collecting. But despite sales not being the feeding frenzy that not so long ago characterized several fairs across the art market calendar, a steady stream of five- and six-figure acquisitions left Frieze dealers more than satiated as the week’s action wound down.

With Frieze London and Frieze Masters opening on the same day for the first time since Masters was introduced in 2012, new artistic director for the Americas and Asia Abby Bangser told Artsy, “Attendance on preview day of VIPs was record-breaking, and that’s continued throughout the rest of the week.” Exact opening day figures for Frieze London remain pending. However, the fair did report a whopping 260% increase in collectors and VIPs attendance to Frieze Masters on opening day, including Eli and Edythe Broad, Benedict Cumberbatch, Diana Picasso, and Budi Tek.

Installation view of David Zwirner’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

And indeed, as is the norm, Tuesday’s sales led the pack where price was concerned. White Cube partner  Daniela Gareh reported continued success with “two new bodies of paintings by Damien Hirst,” including the $1.2 million sale of Holbein (Artist’s Watercolours) (2015). (Bangser confirmed via telephone on Friday evening that such levels were representative of the high end of transactions reported to the fair thus far.) “Sales across the board were good throughout the week,” added Gareh on Saturday morning, noting further sales of works by Andreas Gursky, Tracey Emin, Theaster Gates, Imi Knoebel, Christian Marclay, Cerith Wyn Evans and Eddie Peake, among others.

David Zwirner placed Chris Ofili’s Midnight Cocktail (2015) in a collector’s hands for $750,000 on Tuesday. Among other sales, Kerry James Marshall’s Untitled (Toe Painter) (2015) also went on opening day for an unreported sum, ahead of a retrospective next April at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, which will then travel to the Met Breuer, and MOCA L.A.

Installation view of Sprüth Magers’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

L.A., London, and Berlin’s Sprüth Magers placed Jenny Holzer’s LED sign sculpture All Fall (2012) in a U.S. collection for $500,000. The artist’s redaction painting TOP SECRET NOFORN 11 (2011) also sold, this for $250,000. The booth presents several mini-solo exhibitions, from which two works by Thomas ScheibitzPortrait Marco Dente (2015) and GP 160 (2011)—found takers for €63,000 and €35,000, respectively; as did four pieces by Thea Djordjadze for between €24,000 and €28,000. The gallery also sold their striking selection of pieces by Ryan Trecartin, ranging from $18,000–45,000.

Lehmann Maupin had a banner start to the fair. The gallery sold no fewer than six works by YBA Tracey Emin (price: £15,000–225,000), a pair of panel paintings by Mickalene Thomas from $125,000–175,000, and Nicholas Hlobo’s Chwetha (To Poke) (2015) for $80,000–120,000 and Isilima sesinambuzane phezu kwechibi (2015) for $40,000–60,000, among others. Do Ho Suh was the star of the booth, however, with four of the artist’s thread works on paper and fabric installations finding takers. Hub, London Studio (2015) was the pinnacle of the group, selling on the range of $350,000–450,000.

Installation view of Victoria Miro’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Suh is also prominently showcased at Victoria Miro’s stand. This Frieze, the gallery presents just three artists: “We wanted to do a more focused presentation this year, going in-depth to give a much better sense about what each artist is up to,” said Oliver Miro, who described the response as “really fantastic.” Sculptures by the Royal Academy’s youngest artist, Conrad Shawcross, were a particular hit, priced at £30,000–70,000. Each of the gallery’s five monumental canvases on view by Spanish painter and rising star Secundino Hernández had sold, priced from £25,000–75,000. Several of those pieces went to museums, one in the U.K. and one “in the southern Hemisphere,” a discrete Miro offered.

Installation view of kamel mennour’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Paris’s kamel mennour saw huge success with works by Camille Henrot. “The show is sold out,” said the gallery’s Helena Mierzejewska on Friday afternoon. All eight editions of the booth’s central sculpture, Retreat From Investment, were spoken for, priced at €150,000 each. “It’s the first time she worked in such a big scale,” said Mierzejewska of the work, which is redolent of Henry Moore. Numerous watercolors on paper, mounted on dibond, ranged in price from €22,000 to €60,000. “They explore the everyday indignities that we encounter: nail biting, virtual sex, situations that remind us of our human side,” added Mierzejewska.

“There’s a real moment for Camille right now,” said KÖNIG GALERIE’s Sarah Miltenberger, who was also showing new works by Henrot. The French artist’s exhibition “The Pale Fox” runs through November 1st at KÖNIG, which sold both ceramics (now sold out at €45,000 apiece) and large-scale works on paper by Henrot from her 2014-2015 series, “The Tropics of Love.” Kiki Kogelnik’s painting Woman and Scissors (1964) also sold for $82,000, building on momentum from her inclusion in Tate Modern’s current show “The World Goes Pop.” A number of pieces by Jeppe Hein, Jorinde Voigt, Alicja Kwade, and Katharina Grosse had also found their way into collectors’ hands by Friday afternoon.

mennour wasn’t the only gallery to sell out its booth. Shanghai’s Antenna Space, which presents a solo installation of Guan Xiao, quickly saw the three-part work Documentary: From National Geographic to BBC (2015) sell to the Zabludowicz Collection. “This is a sequel to the work shown at the New Museum Triennial,” said director Simon Wang. “This is the third edition. The others were collected by Adrian Cheng and another very prominent private Chinese collection,” out of their concurrent show of Guan at the gallery, Wang added. “But we wanted to place one into an influential European connection.” Price? On the range from €30,000–40,000.

Installation view of Koppe Astner’s booth in the Focus section at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Sales across the fair’s Focus section were a mixed bag, reflecting a current tendency away from very young, and thus potentially financially risky, work. Several gallerists cited that a lack of urgency in purchasing was indeed making itself felt. But nonetheless, works from many, such as High Art’s solo presentation of Pentti Monkkonen were finding their way to collectors. High Art co-founders Romain Chenais and Jason Hwang, and fellow galleries Crèvecoeur, Antoine Levi, High Art, Sultana, and Gregor Staiger, will launch their own fair next week—Paris Internationale, an event hotly anticipated among several of Frieze Focus’s hipper exhibitors. “It’s really going to be young, emerging art,” said Chenais. “We don’t know how people will react, whether they will just visit or if they will buy, but there is a lot of excitement around it at the moment.”

One imagines Frieze might be surprisingly pleased that a group of Focus exhibitors would be starting an art fair themselves. It’s one more event to add to the already nearly-300-line-long tally of fairs on the annual calendar. But the London fair’s lifeblood (at least where branding is concerned) and roots remain its unparalleled selection of young dealers and new practices. And that which contributes to the health of the emerging market will, ultimately, be to Frieze’s benefit.

—Alexander Forbes


Frieze and Frieze Masters Open With Steady Sales

Frieze and Frieze Masters Open With Steady Sales
Left to right: Chung Sang-hwa’s “Untitled,” 1987, and Albert Oehlen’s “Untitled,” 1991, both on view at Frieze Masters.
(Courtesy Hakgojae Gallery/Courtesy Skarstedt Gallery)

LONDON — The 13th edition of Frieze London in Regent’s Park opened to V.I.P. cardholders on Tuesday morning, the same moment as its younger sister fair, the four-year-old Frieze Masters, opened its doors far across the manicured park.

Since it’s impossible to be in two places at once, choices were made and it appeared the bigger queue was at the contemporary fair where visitors were greeted in the entry hallway by rather grim collaborative sayings painted in white on black backgrounds, including “Overcome your challenges or they will reappear” and “Don’t Stop Now—The End is Near.”

That sobering, black on black hallway, dotted with what appeared to be reclaimed prisoner benches, complete with stationary metal hoops to accommodate handcuffs or chains, wasn’t exactly inviting. But things perked up once in the central meeting point of the grandly proportioned and bespoke tent, as the more familiar rituals of art commerce slowly kicked into gear.

At London’s White Cube, a brand new Damien Hirst, “Holbein (Artists’ Watercolours)” from 2015 in couch enamel and sign writing paint on canvas, sold right away for £750,000 to a US collector. The piece could be viewed as a very distant cousin to the stunning “Gerhard Richter Colour Charts” exhibition at London’s Dominique Levy, which includes nine paintings from the original 1996 series. Hirst’s mammoth chart at 94 by 158 inches consists of rectangular shaped color swatches running nine rows across and nine rows down the busy canvas.

At New York/London’s David Zwirner Gallery, Kerry James Marshall’s exuberant figurative painting “Untitled (Toe Painter)” from 2015, in acrylic on PVC panel and measuring 60 by 60 inches, sold to another American collector, but the gallery declined to disclose the price. The gallery now represents Marshall in London. Also at Zwirner, Chris Ofili’s large-scale painting “Midnight Cocktail” sold for $750,000.

At London’s Lisson Gallery, a vibrantly colored and patterned abstraction by New York painter Stanley Whitney, “Inside Out” from 2013, scaled at 96 by 96 inches in oil on linen and representing his debut at the gallery, sold for $85,000. At least three of the artist’s six untitled smaller works, each measuring 12 by 12 inches, sold for $15,000 apiece during the first hour of the V.I.P. preview.

Lisson also sold Ai Wei Wei’s purple hued “Iron Root,” in cast iron and auto paint from 2015, for around half a million euros to a Middle Eastern client, according to the gallery. The artist is currently featured in a survey exhibition at the Royal Academy, including an inviting ensemble of sculpted trees installed in the courtyard.

New York/London/Zurich/Los Angeles’s Hauser & Wirth presented small scale sculptures by gallery artists on identically sized pedestals, affording pleasurable, 360 degree views of the little forest of sculptures that gallery partner Paul Schimmel described as “field of dreams.” A coated glasswork by Larry Bell, “Cube #10-1-92” from 1992 and standing 10 inches high, sold for $135,000.

At Paris/Salzburg Thaddaeus Ropac Gallery, a huge Robert Longo diptych, “Untitled (Holy Tree/Cedar)” in charcoal on paper from 2015 and measuring 102 by 128 by 4 inches, sold to a European collector for $650,000, and a 72 by 72 inch landscape by Alex Katz, “The Road” from 2015 and evocative of the Maine woods and its stellar light, sold for $390,000. Ropac also sold Sturtevant’s appropriated damsel, “Warhol Licorice Marilyn” from 2004, for around $275,000.

“I was very impressed with the energy of the fair this year,” said Polly Robinson Gaer, executive director of Ropac in London, “especially since our price points are very high compared to the other booths, so we’re really pleased with the outcome.”

It was about at this juncture, some 2 ½ hours into Frieze London with its 164 galleries, that I remembered my mission was across the park at Frieze Masters.

A brisk 15-minute walk later, the dirigible-like silver outline of the Masters’ tent appeared and London’s mini-answer to TEFAF, the European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, but with better 20th-century art, unfolded.

It quickly became evident that last year’s iteration with Helly Nahmad Gallery’s exquisitely entertaining “The Collector” installation has gone viral here, with a number of galleries trying it on, bringing a mix of art and furniture together with a patron saint dealer or character added to the flavorful mix.

London’s Richard Nagy Gallery did it with German Expressionist works and vintage Austrian furniture, Dickinson staged an ambitious “Masters of Cubism” art salon as a homage to Paris dealer Leonce Rosenberg, and cooperating dealers Moretti (London) and Hauser & Wirth combined 14th-century Italian painters with a modernist and contemporary cast of Hauser & Wirth’s deep back room, including a sultry yet somehow religious Marlene Dumas, an ink on paper of a nude girl, “Magdalena (de Pelsie)” from 1996. The Dumas hung alongside the 14th-century Luca de Tomme’s “Madonna and Child with Christ Blessing” in tempera on panel. It doesn’t take long to get the idea that the dealers and Frieze Masters would like you to embrace (and collect) the sweep of those centuries.

The acquiring pace at Frieze Masters appeared slower this year as even top guns, such as New York’s Van de Wegh Gallery, with works by Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Acquavella Galleries, armed with a stunning Claude Monet landscape of Monte Carlo from 1883 and a rare and beautiful family portrait by Edgar Degas (“Henri Rouart et sa fille Helene”) from circa 1877, priced at $10.5 and $8 million respectively, had no initial takers.

There was some action at New York/London’s Skarstedt Gallery, usually a hotbed of notable transactions, as Alighiero Boetti’s  “841/ Beige Sahara” from 1967, consisting of industrial spray paint on cardboard and cork lettering at 27 1/8 by 27 1/8, sold in the $500,000 range and Albert Oehlen’s untitled and rather biomorphic abstraction from 1991 sold for around $700,000 to a European collector.

“It’s O.K.,” said Per Skarstedt, shortly after chatting with American painter Eric Fischl, who was visiting the stand. “We’re hoping to sell more art.”

Similarly, at New York’s Sperone Westwater Gallery, an early and rarely seen Joseph Kosuth, “One and seven-Description II” from 1965 and consisting of seven acrylic on canvas panels, each measuring 15 by 15 inches, sold for $300,000.

The hottest sector sales wise appeared to be the so-called “Spotlight” section of galleries hosting one-person stands, led by Seoul/Beijing’s Hakgojae Gallery and the Minimalist, Robert Ryman-esque work of Korean artist Chung Sang-hwa. The booth sold out, with the seven featured paintings from the 1970s and ’80s going for $500,000 to approximately $1 million.

“His prices have jumped five times what they were last year,” said Eunsoo Woo, Hakgojae’s art director. “Still, we were surprised at how quickly they’ve sold.” Buyers for Sang-hwa hailed from the US, Europe, Korea, and China. His name will become more familiar to Westerners soon, as Dominique Levy and New York’s Greene Naftali will mount joint New York shows in 2016.

The Dominique Levy stand here also sold a Chung Sang-hwa, “87-12-7” from 1987 in acrylic on canvas for $540,000, the first work of the artist the gallery has sold.

Back to the Spotlight stands, London’s Stephen Friedman sold New York sculptor Melvin Edwards’s untitled installation from 1970, comprised of hung barbed wire and chains, and installed here for the first time, for $300,000 to an American collector. The gallery also sold a group of Edwards’s spray paint and watercolor on paper works from 1974 at $25,000 each.

In that same rich and relatively undiscovered vein, the late African-American abstract painter Sam Gilliam was featured at Los Angeles’s David Kordansky Gallery with a lyrical presentation of the artist’s Drape series, which sold at prices ranging from $225,000 to $500,000. Of those uplifting works, “Swing Sketch” from 1968, comprised of acrylic on canvas with a leather cord, sold for $350,000.

Frieze and Frieze Masters run through October 18.



What Sold on Day One at Frieze London 2015

Lorena Muñoz-Alonso, Thursday, October 15, 2015

Collector and patron Valeria Napoleone visits the booth of David Kordansky during the preview of Frieze London 2015.<br>Photo: Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze

With the queue to access the preview of Frieze London at the coveted 11 a.m. slot stretching all the way towards the entrance of the park, the hotly anticipated 13th edition of the London fair got off to a great start. Or did it?

In terms of attendance at least, there is little doubt that each successive edition of the fair is more successful than the year before. Perhaps even too much so for its own good. Many collectors complained about the queue to the supposedly exclusive early viewing, huffing and puffing as the crowds trundled towards the tent’s doors. Others took a more practical approach. “I saw the queue and decided to start by Frieze Masters instead, and come back to Frieze London later,” Turin-based super collector Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo told artnet News. Norwegian collectors Venke and Rolf Hoff, from KaviarFactory, also seemed slightly overwhelmed by the crowds.

View of White Cube's booth at Frieze London 2015, with Damien Hirst's Holbein (Artist's Watercolours) to the right.<br>Photo: Courtesy White Cube

But the hordes did translate into a flurry of early sales for many blue chip galleries. London’s White Cube—which barely ten minutes into the preview was packed with people, including actor Benedict Cumberbatch and his wife, Sophie Hunter—sold a new work by Damien Hirst, entitled Holbein (Artist’s Watercolours) and with a price tag above $1.2 million, within the hour. Another canvas by Hirst, Super Centre (2014) also sold during the first hours, proving that the notorious YBA is ripe for a comeback, and that his new museum Newport Street Gallery is helping to rekindle his market. White Cube also sold works of heavy weights like Andreas Gursky, Antony Gormley, Theaster Gates, and Christian Marclay in the first hours.

At Hauser & Wirth, an unusual grid display—in which dozens of sculptures by gallery artists were displayed on plinths—was commanding the public’s attention, distracted only by the presence of Princess Eugenie, trying to fulfil her duties as associate director of the gallery while posing demurely and politely for the paparazzi. Sales during the first hours of the fair included works by Isa Genzken,Martin Creed, Hans Josephsohn,Takesada Matsutani, Gottfried Gruner, and Djordje Ozbolt. A work by Larry Bell changed hands for $135,000, while a new sculpture by Phyllida Barlow sold for £25,000.

Installation View of Hauser & Wirth's booth at Frieze London 2015.<br>Photo: Alex Delfanne

Over at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, things were looking rather peachy. By Tuesday afternoon, an Alex Katz painting, Road (2015), had sold for a price in the region of $400,000. A large drawing by Robert Longo changed hands for $650,000, while Tony Cragg‘s sculpture Runner sold for €300,000. Nearby, Sturtevant‘s Warhol Licorice Marilyn (2004) found a new owner for $250,000.

Collectors like Valeria Napoleone, Eskandar and Fatima Maleki, and Anita Zabludowicz were spotted scanning the booths, as were Candida Gertler from the Outset Contemporary Art Fund, the director of Tate, Nicholas Serota, uber-curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, and Simon and Michaela de Pury. The mood on the aisles was enthusiastic, with many dealers waxing lyrical about the diversity of collectors descending upon Regent’s Park from all four corners of the world.

Galerie Max Hetzler reported a slew of sales in the first day, including Raymond Hains‘s Il est recommandé de fermer la pochette avant de frotter l’allumette (1968), which sold for €70,000 to a European collector, Albert Oehlen‘s Untitled (Baum 31) (2015), which sold for €450,000 to London-based collectors, and Günther Förg‘s Untitled (2008), which sold for €300,000 to an Asian collector looking to buy works by established artists from Germany and France.

At London’s Victoria Miro, the irresistible appeal of Spanish sensationSecundino Hernández was in full swing. A couple of hours into the preview, five of his stunning, large-scale abstract paintings, with prices ranging from £25,000 to £75,000, have been sold to public museums and foundations, according to a gallery spokesperson. A significant remark, since it’s been often mentioned that Hernández’s appeal for private collectors didn’t extend to the institutional world.

Installation view of Lisson Gallery's booth at Frieze London 2015.<br>Photo: Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze

At Lisson Gallery, Ai Weiwei was benefiting from his fantastic blockbuster exhibition, running concurrently at the Royal Academy of Arts. Ai’s Iron Root (2015) sculpture sold for around €500,000 to a Middle Eastern client. Meanwhile, a large diptych by Richard Long of china clay on linen mounted on plywood sold for £100,000-200,000, while a silkscreen on linen by Allora & Calzadilla sold in the region $100,000-200,000. A large painting by Stanley Whitney sold for around $85K, with other few smaller works left on reserve at the end of the first day.

Nearby, David Zwirner, which had presented a stunning and subtle booth, began the preview selling Chris Ofili‘s Midnight Cocktail for $750,000, as well as a number of works by Carol Bove, Marlene Dumas, and Wolfgang Tillmans. Los Angeles-based David Kordansky sold all the works in its Mary Weatherford dedicated booth by Tuesday noon, with prices in the range of $125,000-215,000. All the works went to institutions, according to a representative of the gallery.

At São Paulo’s powerhouse Galeria Fortes Vilaça, two works by the young Brazilian painter Marina Rheingantz sold in the range of $6,000-10,000, while a 2006 photograph by Mauro Restiffe, Mirante #2, sold for a price between $30,000-40,000. Brazilian galleries were indeed in top form at the start of the fair. Vermelho reported the sale of Lia Chaia’s Transfusion G duplo (3), which was bought by a UK-based collector for $5,000, and of Odires Mlaszho’s book-based piece Martindale – Hubbell, international law directory, 1991 for £10,000.

Neil Beloufa's The Office (2015) at the Mendes Wood DM booth at Frieze London 2015.<br>Photo: Lorena Muñoz-Alonso

Martin Aguilera, head of sales of the Brazilian blue-chip Mendes Wood DM, was positively beaming by lunch time. The generous booth of the São Paulo gallery made a strong bid for French artist Neil Beloufa, and it had certainly paid off. The large-scale video installation The Office (2015) had sold for €40,000, another sculpture had changed hands for the same amount, and two smaller sculptures, also by Beloufa, had found new owners, at €12,000 a pop. A beautiful and subtle wall-based sculpture by Paloma Bosquê also sold for $12,000, while a small painting on wood by the coveted Brazilian artist Celso Renato was on reserve for €65,000. “We want to make sure we place it in a good collection or museum,” Aguilera told artnet News. “Renato’s body of work is small, so it’s important for us to care of it.”

A similar sentiment was echoed by Ricky Manne at Marianne Boesky Gallery, which had a gobsmacking trio of large-scale Frank Stella works on display, Suchowola I, II, and III, superb hybrids of painting and sculpture dating to 1973 and selling together for a combined price tag of $5 million. “We’ve had offers today, but we really want to make sure they go to the right place, whether a public museum or private foundation,” Manne told artnet News. Meanwhile, five works by Donald Moffett, also inhabiting a beguiling realm between sculpture and painting, had sold for prices between $65,000-85,000 each, while another one was placed on reserve. “We’re done here!,” joked Manne halfway through the first day.

Frank Stella's Suchowola I, II (1973) at the Marianne Boesky Gallery booth at Frieze London 2015.<br>Photo: Lorena Muñoz-Alonso

The collector David Roberts, whose space DRAF has one of the most dynamic and respected artistic programs in the city, was also very active during the first hours of the preview via the director and curator of his foundation, Vincent Honoré. Honoré bought works for the collection by Jimmie Durham (at Mexico’s Kurimanzutto, for €35,000), Thea Djordjadze (at Sprüth Magers, for €28,000), Harold Ancart (at CLEARING), Bernd and Hilla Becher (also at Sprüth Magers), and Frank Auerbach (at Marlborough), whose market is experiencing a surge coinciding with his superb retrospective at Tate Britain.

Sprüth Magers had got off to a very strong start. Besides the works sold to David Roberts Art Foundation, the Berlin and London gallery sold a Thomas Scheibitz painting for €35,000 to a US collector, another Djordjadze painting for €28,000, and two additional sculptures by Djordjadze for €24,000 and €26,000, to a US-based collector and a European collector, respectively. The gallery also sold a selection of digital print-based works by Ryan Trecartin, ranging from $18,000 to $45,000.

 Ryan Trecartin,Leash Fest - Pet Send, Don't Hit (2015)<br>Photo: © Ryan Trecartin Courtesy Ryan Trecartin, Sprüth Magers, Regen Projects, Los Angeles and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York

Parisian gallerist Kamel Mennour certainly pleased the crowds during his London debut with a fantastic booth dedicated to French sensation Camille Henrot. The works on display—gathered under the title “Minor Concerns” and done in preparation for Henrot’s forthcoming takeover of the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2017—included a large group of watercolors and a stunning large bronze sculpture of Modernist overtones, which sold for €200,00o to a European collector. “I’m really happy,” beamed Mennour on the second day, when a number of the works had already found new homes, including a large watercolour displayed on an easel for €60,000. “Frieze London is really different to FIAC, there really is an international crowd here, and the response to Camille’s works has been outstanding.”

Kamel Menour at his booth at Frieze London 2015, with works by Camille Henrot.<br>Photo: Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze

Amid the blue chip furore, smaller galleries experienced slow (but steady) starts. London’s The Approach sold an eye-catching mirrored glass sculpture by Gary Webb in the shape of a palm tree for £18,000, while Laura Bartlett sold a large painting by Alex Olson for $42,000 and a blackboard work by young Berlin-based artist Sol Calero for £6,000. Madrid’s MaisterraValbuena sold a photo by Maria Loboda, a sculpture by B.Wurtz from 1979 and two works by Néstor Sanmiguel Diest, all in the range of €3,000-15,000.

Meanwhile, at the Focus section, which showcases young galleries, Carlos/Ishikawa had sold a number of cushion-sculptures by Ed Fornieles, in the range of £6,000-12,000, an Instagram-based piece also by Fornieles, for £7,000, and a photograph by Marie Angeletti for £5,500.

Works by Kiki Kogelnik at the Simone Subal booth at Frieze London 2015.<br>Photo: Lorena Muñoz-Alonso

By the second day, New York-based gallerist Simone Subal had sold all the displayed works by the young artist B. Ingrid Olson, with prices ranging between $4,000 and $4,500, and had had a number of conversations with institutions about Kiki Kogelnik, of whom she was exhibiting two paintings, Hi ($32,000) and Green Machine ($78,000), as well as the one of Kogelnik’s brilliant Hangings ($72,000). “It’s going really well,” Subal, who is participating in Frieze London for the second time, told artnet News. “I have sold mostly to new clients, from America, Italy, and France, which is really exciting.”

For more on Frieze Week, see our Top 10 Booths at Frieze London 2015, our Insider’s Guide to the Best and Worst of London’s Frieze Week 2015 and be sure to make use of artnet News’ 5 Tips for Every Art Fairgoer. Also, see photos from Ken Kagami’s saucy fair intervention, as well as the top booths at Frieze Masters. Stay on top of your game with artnet News’ 15 Artists To Watch at Frieze London 2015.



Kordansky in front of Weatherford’s art

Photographer: Linda Nylind/Frieze Art Fair

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Art dealer David Kordansky checked his wristwatch nervously. It was 45 minutes into the opening of the Frieze Art Fair and his booth, with large abstract paintings intersected with neon light tubes by Mary Weatherford, was mostly empty.

“I am waiting for the individuals these paintings are on reserve for to show up,” Kordansky said on Tuesday, tapping his timepiece. “Is there a line outside?”

Kordansky didn’t need to worry. Neither the 15-minute line snaking through the fair’s Regent’s Park location nor the roiling financial markets could deter the international jet set from its annual art shopping spree in London. The displayed five paintings by Weatherford sold at the VIP preview, with prices ranging from $120,000 to $220,000.

Billionaire Eli Broad, jeweller Laurence Graff, heiress Nicky Hilton Rothschild and actor Benedict Cumberbatch joined the throngs of established and wannabe collectors who descended on Frieze and its nearby sister fair, Frieze Masters, on this crisp October day. The fair is the first test of the art market since auction houses sold a record $2.7 billion of art in New York in May, and after the stock market rout in August and September that rattled global investors.

Broad, who navigated the aisles in a wheelchair following back surgery, said he was cautious about the financial markets and bullish about the art market.

“Russians are in trouble. Brazil is in trouble. Commodities are way down,” Broad, who opened his $140 million private museum in Los Angeles last month, said in an interview. “The art market is very strong. You’d think there are no troubles anywhere in the world.”

Established in 2003, Frieze has become one of the world’s leading art fairs, competing with Art Basel and expanding geographically with a Frieze New York edition in May. The event now anchors London’s biggest art week of the year, with several concurrent fairs, auctions and exhibitions at galleries and museums. Frieze runs through Oct. 17; Frieze Masters until Oct. 18.

“This is the prime time in London,” said Pilar Ordovas, whose gallery on Savile Road organized an exhibition of sea-themed works, ranging from a fragment of a Roman sarcophagus to Damien Hirst’s sculpture of a pickled shark, priced in the region of $10 million.

“Galleries, museums and auction houses are trying to put their best shows,” Ordovas said. “There is a much greater concentration of international collectors in London now than at any other time of the year.”

Frieze, which has 164 exhibitors, shows works by living artists. New York’s Anton Kern Gallery’s booth had a solo show by American artist Chris Martin, including recent paintings made with neon colors and glitter, and drawings dating to 1977. Buyers snapped up three paintings, priced at $45,000 to $55,000 and 10 drawings, at $4,500 and $5,000.

Sculptures by Huma Bhabha
Photographer: Linda Nylind/Frieze Art Fair

Nearby, another New York gallery, Salon 94, had a solo presentation of totem-like sculptures, photo collages and water colors by Huma Bhabha. A carved cork sculpture sold for $195,000; and another totem, cast in bronze though looking like its cork neighbor, sold for $275,000.

Cumberbatch, whose interpretation of Hamlet is drawing crowds to London’s Barbican theatre, strolled with his wife, Sophie Hunter. The couple stopped by Gagosian Gallery to view a $600,000 sculpture by British artist Glenn Brown, which resembled a tower built with brush strokes.

Paintings by Stanley Whitney, who is the subject of a retrospective at the Studio Museum Harlem in New York, were offered by several galleries. London-based Lisson Gallery sold one large, colorful grid painting for $80,000; a smaller canvas sold for $60,000 at Galerie Nordenhake, with branches in Berlin and Stockholm.

“Sold,” Timothy Blum, co-owner of Blum and Poe, based in Los Angeles, Tokyo and New York, kept telling clients inquiring about a $600,000 painting by Yoshitomo Nara. The gallery also placed a new painting by Takashi Murakami for $1 million.

Marianne Boesky Gallery paired the works by mid-career artist Donald Moffett with a 1973 trio by Frank Stella, a 79-year-old American artist whose retrospective opens at the Whitney Museum of American Art on Oct. 30.

The two-person booth paid off as the gallery sold six of the eight cut-out sculptures by Moffett, priced at $65,000 to $85,000. Three buyers — one European foundation and two private collectors — wanted Stella’s “Suchowola I, II, and III,” priced at $5 million.

“It’s a very safe place to go,” said Marianne Boesky. “You are buying quality, not something untested.”

Across Regent’s Park, Frieze Masters offers historic material presented by 130 art dealers. Several Old Master galleries placed marble busts and gold-ground paintings next to fashionable contemporary art icons.

Old Master and contemporary art “belong in the same room,” said Richard Feigen, who hired interior designer Juan Pablo Molyneux to give his booth the feel of an Italian palazzo where Pablo Picasso hangs next to Renaissance paintings. Feigen’s early sales included a $35,000 collage by Ray Johnson and a $75,000 solid gold trash can by Pop artist James Rosenquist.

Several art dealers staged elaborate displays. London’s Helly Nahmad gallery’s booth was a set worthy of a West End production — to complement the gallery’s solo booth of Jean Dubuffet paintings.
Asylum Cells
Asylum Cells
Photographer: Mark Blower/Frieze Art Fair

Designer Robin Brown re-imagined asylum cells Dubuffet visited in France and Switzerland in the 1940s. The artist was inspired by art created by the patients, coining the phrase Art Brut to describe their “primitive” style. The booth’s walls are covered with scribbles, drawings and doodles. A moody 1940s French song plays in the background.

Three of the eight Dubuffet works were sold, with prices ranging from $650,000 to $3.5 million.


Frieze London Vernissage’s Throngs Defy Market Trends

By Alexander Forbes

Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Frieze London opened to throngs of VIPs on Tuesday, ringing in the 13th edition of the U.K.’s biggest art fair—with 164 galleries from 27 countries. This year marks the fair’s first edition under the direction of Victoria Siddall, who was tapped from her post as director of Frieze Masters to helm all three Frieze Fairs, including spring’s Frieze New York.

By all accounts, Tuesday’s preview was among the busiest in recent memory. “It’s packed this year,” said collector Kamiar Maleki. “I’ve never seen so many people at Frieze.” Maleki was among art–world insiders on the hunt for works by the crème of emerging art, in keeping with Frieze’s long-held dominance in the category. But he was also quick to note pundits’ apprehensions about the health of that market segment as the busy fall season commenced. For Frieze, at least, he speculated only positive results were ahead: “We’ll have to see with the sales later, but it seems like it’s definitely booming.”

Booming in noise-level, at the very least. Such was the din during the peak afternoon hours that works incorporating subtle elements of sound, such as Inge Mahn’s Stuhlkreis (2000), on offer at Berlin and Paris’s Galerie Max Hetzler, could barely make their presence known. The kinetic sculpture created by the relatively unknown, 70-year-old Mahn sees one wine glass placed on each of the 17 plaster-covered wooden chairs placed in a three-meter circle, while two crystals slowly rotate on opposite ends of a motorized aluminum tube, tapping the glasses to create a sonic effect. According to Paris director Samia Saouma (also Hetzler’s wife), the dealer rediscovered the artist at a museum show in Germany and recalled seeing her work years before in Harald Szeemann’s Documenta 5 in 1972.

Works by Glenn Brown at Gagosian’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

The work was unsold as of Tuesday evening. But a large-scale Günther Förg from 2008 had been sold to an Asian collector for €300,000, Albert Oehlen’s U.D.O. 7 (2001/2005) to an American for €250,000; an Edmund de Waal went to a French collection for €75,000; and a Raymond Hains to a European for €70,000. An above-seven-figure painting by Glenn Brown—who’s been given a solo at Gagosian’s front-and-center booth at Frieze’s entrance—was on reserve.

At least one work did crest into the million-dollar range during Frieze’s preview: a $1.2 million Damien Hirst, titled Holbein (Artist’s Watercolours) (2015), from London’s White Cube. It’s a fitting note for the fair. The YBA’s 1988 show “Freeze,” including Sarah Lucas, Gary Hume, and Mat Collishaw, among others, served as inspiration, in part, for Frieze founders Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp back in 2003. And just last Thursday, Hirst opened his own private gallery in London’s Newport Street with a show of John Hoyland. Works by Andreas Gursky, Antony Gormley, Theaster Gates, and Christian Marclay were also acquired from White Cube’s stand on opening day.

Stephen Friedman Gallery’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

“It’s going incredibly well,” said fellow London mainstay Maureen Paley. The gallerist was keeping mum on what exactly from her booth had found its way into collectors’ hands (save for saying that “several” had). However, she noted that viewers and exhibitors alike were once again impressed by the “real sense of openness in the fair this year,” and the “generosity in terms of how everything was laid out,” no doubt thanks to continued refinements brought to the fair’s layout by Universal Design Studio, the firm that revamped Frieze London last year.

Paley shows new work by Liam Gillick (currently with a show in her Bethnal Green gallery), David Salle, Wolfgang Tillmans, and current art–world darling Michael Krebber, among others. “I’ve known him for 30 years and I’ve been working with him since the ’90s, but he’s developing in a very strong way at the moment,” said Paley of Krebber. Of particular note of the works on show is a sculpture, Pitch (2014), by photographer Anne Hardy, who is “at an exciting crossroads,” according to Paley. The artist, who has long photographed models and staged environments, recently began displaying these structures as sculptures in and of themselves, as well as experimenting with works employing audio.

Pilar Corrias Gallery’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Image courtesy Pilar Corrias Gallery.

Outside of Focus, Frieze London’s section for young galleries and emerging artists, new media gets relatively little play in 2015. Pilar Corrias, whose gallery is among a handful to show video, sold most of her solo booth of works by Ken Okiishi. The works—single screens priced at $35,000 and diptychs at $50,000—pull their source material from ’80s VHS tapes and more recent television series, which play on flat screens swiped with expressive brushstrokes. “The simplest way you can record a gesture is by making a brushstroke,” said Corrias. “Another is through video. But both the brushstroke and the footage don’t convey the reality of the movement. Nothing is adequate.”

Corrias’s early success aside, the majority of work at Frieze this year falls well within the dominant art world trends of the moment: loose and line-driven figuration, ceramics, and remixed readymade sculpture perhaps the most prevalent among them. The fair remains undeniably fresh–faced in the works it puts forward. But it’s also high on pedigree—like London, more a young royal than the rough-necked renegade it once was. On one hand, that appearance could be due to the complacency that the art world’s proliferation of highly curated presentations, new young artists, and recently rediscovered old ones can quickly induce. But there is also a demand-side component that—along with the rising tide of the market that pushes prices for young contemporary ever higher—would indicate that this is a real, rather than perceived, shift.

Galerie Buchholz’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby at Artsy.

“Frieze was very cutting edge in the beginning. I came here to look at things that were so advanced compared to what you would see at Basel or FIAC,” recalls French collector Sylvain Levy, standing across from ShangART’s booth. “But now, the people are asking for something different. In times like we are currently in, which are not so easy, people are looking more to be reassured than to be challenged.” That means artists with a solid lineup of upcoming museum and gallery shows and a certain level of market momentum, among other factors often pitched. “The median price of contemporary art is quite high now. So it’s not just an impulse buy,” Levy continues.

Some would likely want to mark this as a failing on Frieze’s part, but it’s not. Frieze remains the most variegated of the blue chip fairs—by far. It is cutting edge, but it’s cutting edge at a time when everything, from the High Street to Regent’s Park, is a little bit more the same than it once was.

Alexander Forbes



The Art Market

October 16, 2015 4:50 pm

The Art Market: the good, the not so good, and the very, very expensive

The most frantic week of the year in London opened this Monday with a VIP preview for the Pavilion of Art and Design (PAD), the French-organised fair combining mainly modern art and design, and with a strong showing of this year’s hottest ticket, modern Italian art. The fair’s tent is cunningly sited in Berkeley Square, within a wallet’s throw of the Connaught and Claridges, and its opening attracted the hordes of art world denizens in town for Frieze.

“We have seen French, American, Russian and Brazilian collectors,” said Andrew Duncanson of the Swedish gallery Modernity. Among them was Sheikh Hamad Al Thani, who has a home nearby, jeweller Laurence Graff and fashionista Valentino.

Italian art sold well, too: Mazzoleni (with a marvellous Alberto Burri show in its nearby gallery) reported placing the artist’s “Rosso Plastica” (1966) for around €2m. “This fair is very successful commercially; dealers and collectors buy here for their homes, it’s convenient to visit on foot, and it’s on a human scale,” said photography dealer Michael Hoppen, who sold Sarah Moon’s “Fashion 4” (1999) for £35,000. PAD closes Sunday, October 18.

“Welcome to Purgatory” says a slogan scrawled on the blacked entrance corridor to Frieze this year. This is one of the projects at the fair, thanks to US artist Lutz Bacher. On Tuesday, invited guests quickly tripped along the sinister entry and pushed through inky plastic fronds into the brightly lit and spacious fair, which has evolved far beyond its gritty, edgy beginnings.

Today’s Frieze is a slick, professional affair exemplified by the Gagosian stand. Packaged in a smart grey booth is an impressive solo show by Glenn Brown, from highly detailed drawings ($75,000-$120,000) to sculpture ($300,000- $450,000), with a number of the drawings immediately sold.

Some (but not all) admired Sadie Coles’ booth featuring a giant ostrich/ aubergine sculpture by Darren Bader and a large Laura Owens painting that collector Donald Marron, on his first visit to Frieze, just missed out on buying — by five minutes, he said.

“Dealers are definitely making extra efforts to curate their booths, and the market is getting so competitive that they have to — to stand out,” said art adviser Lisa Schiff after trawling the two fairs and making manifold purchases. She admired the Coles stand, as well that of Mary Mary and Hauser & Wirth, with a forest of small sculptures on plinths: the gallery said a number sold in the first hours, citing a Phyllida Barlow for £25,000.

. . .

Unanimity reigned about the marvellous Frieze Masters, which opened the same day as Frieze London — this is the strongest year ever for the classic fair, which features a number of “crossover” displays. Standouts include the collaboration between Hauser & Wirth and Moretti Fine Art, spanning the 14th to the 20th centuries. Helly Nahmad has reimagined the lunatic asylums that inspired Jean Dubuffet and his espousing of Art Brut. Also on the stand are for-sale Dubuffet works, one asking for £750,000. The usually classic Simon Dickinson celebrates Cubism with a re-creation of Léonce Rosenberg’s 1930s “Galerie de l’Effort Moderne”.

Sales at Frieze Masters are inevitably slower, but gallery Eykyn Maclean immediately sold “Propaganda” (1975-78) by Mario Schifano from its “Pop Dialogues” display price in the region of $750,000), while Stephen Friedman found a US collector for a hanging sculpture of chains by the African-American Melvin Edwards, for about $300,000. Frieze London ends today, October 17; Frieze Masters runs until Sunday.

. . .

Despite all this, the sheer number of events on in London this week and the quantity of art for sale rattled dealers — particularly on the second day of Frieze, which was quiet after the storm of the opening. As well as the fairs there were plenty of auctions: on Wednesday Christie’s and De Pury disposed of the rambling Lambert collection, raising just under £15m.

However, Phillips’s apparent triumph with its “white glove” sale of contemporary art on Wednesday night needs qualifying. Of the 36 lots on offer, 18 came from the estate of the “Baron of Botox”, Dr Frederic Brandt, who ended his life earlier this year. The cosmetic surgeon’s tick-the-boxes compilation of brand-name artists was guaranteed by a third party, so in effect the works were pre-sold. Nevertheless, Phillips achieved £31.5m for its sale — double its tally in October last year — and set new price highs for Yoshitomo Nara (£1.9m), Mark Bradford (£3.8m) and Danh Vo (£602,500).

. . .

Chinese collectors were in evidence in London this week — one group even visited 1:54, the African art fair. Retail billionaire and strong promoter of Chinese art Adrian Cheng picked up works at Frieze by Alicja Kwade, Do Ho Suh and Trevor Shimizu. As active was the Indonesian-Chinese Budi Tek, who opened the vast Yuz museum in Shanghai last year. Accompanied by adviser Jeffrey Deitch, he bought three paintings by Mira Dancy at Los Angeles’s Night Gallery, for a project show planned for Yuz. Tek also wanted a number of works by Camille Henrot from new exhibitor Kamel Mennour from Paris. Henrot’s pastel-coloured figurative paintings and a sculpture, priced at €22,000-€150,000, sold out at the opening, with Tek snaffling just one. But he consoled himself later with a wine tasting at the Royal Academy, featuring, among other vintage tipples, a 2006 Romanée-Conti.

. . .

Fiac director Jennifer Flay, who has been awarded France’s Légion d’Honneur©Henri Garat

Fiac director Jennifer Flay, who has been awarded France’s Légion d’Honneur

Renowned art collector, financier and philanthropist Donald Marron, founder of Lightyear Capital, offered advice for collectors in a talk he gave this week. “Firstly, you need to have a passion for art,” he said. “Then you need to do research — lots of it, books, the internet — there is so much information available today. You need to be in touch with knowledgeable people: museum curators, and also dealers. And before buying something, make sure you’ve seen all the available works by an artist. There’s nothing worse than buying something and then later seeing a better work somewhere else.”

. . .

Finally, congratulations to Fiac director Jennifer Flay, who was decorated this week in Paris with the Légion d’Honneur by foreign minister Laurent Fabius. New Zealand-born Flay is acknowledged as the driving force behind the success of the fair, which she has run since 2004. Its off-site event Officielle opens this Tuesday and Fiac proper on Wednesday, running until next Sunday.

Georgina Adam is art market editor-at-large of The Art Newspaper

Photographs: Jason Mandella; Henri Garat


An Insane Asylum inside Frieze Masters Unlocks an Untold Niche of Art History

By Rob Sharp

There are perhaps few better exponents of art at the fringes of sanity than the late French dramatist Antonin Artaud. “Words say little to the mind… But space thundering with images and crammed with sounds speaks,” Artaud famously wrote in 1933.

Helly Nahmad Gallery’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

These sentiments ring true when considering the 2015 Frieze Masters booth of Helly Nahmad London, no doubt the most talked-about sight across both Frieze fairs on their first two days. The stand is split halfway down the middle, presenting works by French painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet (a friend and contemporary of Artaud’s) opposite a reimagining of three interiors—mocked-up versions of spaces in sanatoriums and asylums that Dubuffet visited while in search of inspiration in 1945. Staring upon the mental wreckage of people’s lives, visitors are invited to take in walls scrawled with impromptu images; textbooks and dolls belonging to imagined patients; medication contained in cabinets; invisible convalescents’ sleeping quarters and bedspreads. Separated from the rest of the fair by tall white walls, viewers also find themselves transported by period music.

Helly Nahmad Gallery’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

The aim is to juxtapose Dubuffet’s work—tessellated, almost cubist renderings of scribbled, segmented figures—with the scenarios that inspired it. “I think it’s fantastic to be able to reconnect the works we wanted to show with the original source of that inspiration,” says gallery spokeswoman Georgia Gilbert. Dubuffet coined the term “Art Brut,” for which he is most famous, after visiting places such as those recreated here. These visits also heightened Dubuffet’s interest in German psychiatrist Hans Prinzhorn’s 1922 book Artistry of the Mentally Ill, which showcases the work of 10 “schizophrenic masters.” This art form, claims the gallery’s official accompanying material, “embraced the outsider, including the ‘primitive,’ the eccentric, and the untrained.” Dubuffet built his career around such sentiments, eschewing painterly tradition for a more frenetic style.

Helly Nahmad Gallery’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photos by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

“Dubuffet naturally falls into the territory of art outside the mainstream, so we wanted somehow to cover his interest in that,” says production designer Robin Brown, who worked with producer Anna Pank on the booth. “When Dubuffet went to meet Prinzhorn and visited various asylums—that seemed like the perfect time to set our installation, because it was just on the cusp of Art Brut. We didn’t want to just put Dubuffet opposite some outsider art, as it doesn’t explain anything.”

Brown’s aim, he says, was to “create a backstory,” ultimately to entice people to stick around. The designer achieved this at last year’s booth with his staging of a fictional 1968 collector’s apartment, where real art merged with a faked interior. Fontana gaped above a desk and ashtray; Picasso’s sharp elbows tried to make room between socialist-style posters. This year is arguably more conservative. The booth’s art is displayed separately against a white background, with no side-by-side mixing of the factual and fictive.

Helly Nahmad Gallery’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

So how accurate is Brown’s recreation? “We had a picture researcher in Paris and we spoke to some asylums,” he says. “Patients did decorate their cells and it felt appropriate that you should see someone’s vision. The main room is more of a fiction, though, the idea that they expressed themselves all over the walls.”

While its motivation is apparently commercial, the booth asks complex questions about what it is to be inspired by those who lack equal agency. Would it be more acceptable if Dubuffet, like Artaud, was mentally ill, and felt that an appreciation for “the living whirlwind that devours the darkness” (as Artaud wrote) was a necessary part of life and art? And what does it mean to be spectators to this—especially those who are economically buying into it?

Works by Jean Dubuffet at Helly Nahmad Gallery’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

“At some point these artists and the doctors involved sort of exploited the patients,” says Brown. “And some of the patients’ conditions were encouraged by doing mad things. André Breton and Dubuffet were both friends with Artaud, who committed suicide. You could say that encouraging someone like that to produce more tormented art could contribute to his illness.” There is also the flipside, he says, referring to the snobbery among those who don’t believe outsider art should be considered within the art world’s traditional firmament.

Helly Nahmad Gallery’s booth at Frieze London, 2015. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

How should we parse Dubuffet’s influences, then, while looking on ourselves? This year, the booth is less accessible, but arguably more challenging and brave in the uncomfortable questions it poses. “I’m not aware that any of the artists involved in this ever donated money to mental health or helped mental health in any way,” concludes Brown. “But then Dubuffet did spend his entire life promoting and collecting their work. So there is some balance.”

Rob Sharp

World Goes Pop at the Tate Modern – London




World Goes Pop, Tate Modern, review: ‘exhilarating’

Erró, Big tears for two 1963, Oil on canvas, 1300 x 2000 mm, Collection of the artist
Erró, Big tears for two 1963, Oil on canvas, 1300 x 2000 mm, Collection of the artist

Six years ago, Tate Modern staged a major exhibition exploring the legacy of Pop Art. Called Pop Life: Art in a Material World, it took as its mantra Andy Warhol’s notorious pronouncement that “Good business is the best art”, and argued that the soul of the Sixties movement was, in essence, a cold, hard dollar sign. Many of the featured artists working in Pop’s shadow – Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami – were shown to be interrogating moneymaking and capitalism, producing glossy art, precision-engineered for our era of high finance.

Now Tate Modern is examining Pop Art once again – yet the new exhibition is so radically opposed to its predecessor, you’d think it was considering another movement altogether. As a result, I have no doubt that The World Goes Pop will prove divisive: for some it will be a revelation, for others it will be intolerable. Either way, this courageous and enterprising exhibition gleefully rails against the oft-told orthodoxies of Pop Art like nothing I have witnessed.

To understand what I’m talking about, consider two oil paintings, in the final room, produced in 1973 by the Russian artists Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid. In each case, an “icon” of American Pop Art appears damaged by an unspecified apocalypse. Warhol’s tin of Campbell’s tomato soup is a sorry-looking, charred and threadbare thing. A fragment from Roy Lichtenstein’s 1964 comic-book painting As I Opened Fire fares little better. These images are as close as the exhibition comes to presenting Pop Art’s big-hitters. The Tate owns Warhol’s Marilyn Diptych and Lichtenstein’s Whaam! (1963), two out-and-out masterpieces of classic American Pop. Yet, surprisingly, there isn’t room for either in the 10 galleries, containing around 160 artworks, of the new exhibition. In a sense, then, Komar and Melamid’s paintings represent the polemical argument of the exhibition as a whole. Incendiary and confrontational, The World Goes Pop puts a torch to everything we thought we knew about Pop Art.

Komar and Melamid, Post Art No 2 (Lichtenstein), 1973 (The Boxer Collection, London)
Komar and Melamid, Post Art No 2 (Lichtenstein), 1973 (The Boxer Collection, London) Credit: Komar and Melamid

Yet if none of the well-known grandees of Pop Art are on show here, then who is? The answer is: a raft of artists you’ve never heard of. The point of this exhibition is to move away from the hoary story of Anglo-American Pop Art, which was invented in London during the Fifties by the Independent Group, including Richard Hamilton (another notable absentee from the Tate show), before exploding in New York in the early Sixties.

Accordingly, The World Goes Pop showcases little-known artists from all four corners of the Earth, from Brazil to Japan, who engaged with Pop’s “spirit” during the Sixties and Seventies.

Hands up if you were already well versed in the oeuvre of the Polish artist Jerzy Ryszard “Jurry” Zielinski (1943-80). I certainly wasn’t. Yet here, in the opening gallery, is his brilliant painting Without Rebellion (1970): a close-up of a sickly white face, with two Polish eagles in front of red suns in place of eyes. From its bottom edge, a scarlet pillow, representing this unfortunate ghoul’s tongue, lolls out into our space, pinned in position by an enormous metal spike.

Like another work by Zielinski on show nearby, The Smile, or Thirty Years, Ha, Ha, Ha (1974), in which three ominous blue crosses stitch shut a pair of red-and-white lips floating against navy, Without Rebellion attacks censorship in the People’s Republic of Poland with great economy and formal poise – and a brutal frisson of menace. As Lichtenstein might say: KA-POW!

Zielinski is typical of the many artists in this exhibition who worked within the Pop mode pioneered in London and New York, but adapted it to their own political ends. In fact politics – in the sense of raging protest and mass demonstration – is an essential part of the curators’ new vision of global Pop. Everywhere we turn we find hard-left dissatisfaction with the political status quo. American imperialism, the Vietnam War, nuclear bombs, the corrosive promises of capitalism: all come in for a drubbing. Jeremy Corbyn would be in seventh heaven.

When it works well, as in Zielinski’s case, this sort of militant Pop is memorable: Norfolk-born Colin Self’s Leopardskin Nuclear Bomber No 2 (1963) is also a good example. This ambiguous artefact – part toy US bomber, part pink phallus – is clad in leopard skin, and sprouts alarming nails from its snout. It’s a Surrealist Object reconceived for the post-nuclear Pop age: horrifying – and great.

Too often, though, the politicised artworks offer little more than one-liners of protest – the sort of thing that would work well as a slogan on a placard, but is less interesting in a gallery. Indeed, some of the pieces in this vein are laugh-out-loud bad: Spanish duo Equipo Realidad’s Divine Proportion (1967), a pastiche of Leonardo’s famous Vitruvian Man as a US soldier, is both so woeful, aesthetically, and blunt, in terms of meaning, that it would barely pass muster as a newspaper cartoon.

Equipo Realidad, Divine Proportion 1967 (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid)
Equipo Realidad, Divine Proportion 1967 (Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid) Credit: DACS 2015

Aside from politics, the other, arguably more successful theme is sex – specifically, the way that women are presented in the media. In the past, Pop Art has occasionally been criticised for being sexist. Recently, though, a number of forgotten female Pop artists have been rediscovered. Half a century ago, they were making important work focusing on their own subjective experiences, rather than presenting women as sex objects. The Tate exhibition offers a primer on their output.

Martha Rosler’s punchy photomontages fuse titillating fragments of naked bottoms, bellies, and breasts with white goods, including dishwashers, refrigerators and hobs. French artist Nicola L mines a similar seam in her playful yet acerbic “furniture”: her vinyl Woman Sofa (1968) is a jumble of female body parts.

Feminist Spanish artist Eulalia Grau is represented by her nightmarish but unforgettable Ethnographies series: in Pànic, the boot of a swish pink car opens to reveal the surreally large face of a woman stuffed inside, silently screaming, like the victim of a serial killer. Vacuum Cleaner is just as disturbing: a vacant, doll-like bride lies stiff on a carpet, at risk of being dusted into oblivion by a gigantic suction nozzle above her.

Eulalia Grau, Pànic (Etnografia), 1973 (collection of the artist)
Eulalia Grau, Pànic (Etnografia), 1973 (collection of the artist) Credit: DACS 2015

Judy Chicago, meanwhile, who attended an auto-body school in Los Angeles as the only woman in a class of 250 men, spray-paints vibrant patterns evoking wombs and women’s genitals onto car bonnets with acrylic automotive lacquer – at a stroke deflating America’s macho car culture. Chicago’s work appears in a small section towards the end called “Pop Folk”. This is a deliberately provocative oxymoron, since sleek, mechanical Pop is usually seen as the antithesis of homespun, handcrafted folk art.

For some, this gallery will prove too much – extending an already elastic definition of Pop Art to snapping point. Moreover, while revisionism may be a good thing, full-on regicide – omitting founding fathers of Pop Art such as Warhol and Lichtenstein – is strange. Warhol is a god of 20th-century art because he forged the visual language so readily adopted, consciously or not, by most of the artists in this exhibition. The final room, for instance, showcases German artist Thomas Bayrle’s Laughing Cow wallpaper from 1967, which makes sport of the logo of a famous brand of processed French cheese. Yet there is no mention of the fact that it would have been inconceivable without the precedent of Warhol’s own wallpaper, featuring huge pink cow heads floating against bright yellow, exhibited a year earlier.

Too many of these artists, then, are dressed in borrowed robes. They are the Pop equivalent of the Salon Cubists, who worshipped at the altar of those pioneering explorers of form, Picasso and Braque.

Other objections could be raised too. But, I suppose, this is par for the course with a show like this, which re-imagines Pop Art from top to bottom, transforming it from a nimble, knowing art form, specialising in flip irony with an ambiguous attitude towards capitalism, to a right-on movement of one-note sincerity and radical political beliefs. Such a profound overhaul will not be everyone’s tin of Campbell’s soup.

Overall, though, this raucous exhibition not only provides an exhilarating snapshot of the global counter-culture during the Sixties and Seventies, in all its neon, vinyl, faux-leopard-skin glory. It also refuses to tell the same old story.

And such an original approach – challenging accepted taste, as Pop Art did from the start – deserves respect.

Thurs -Jan 24; info: 020 7887 8888

Alastair Sooke’s Pop Art: A Colourful History (Viking) is out now 

The World Goes Pop at Tate Modern: How pop art was used as dissent

Tate Modern’s autumn show changes ‘the traditional story of Pop Art’


xxx by Andrzej Zieliński Todd-White

Zoe Pilger

Monday 14 September 2015 17:06 BST

In his 1975 autobiography Andy Warhol wrote: “The most beautiful thing in Tokyo is McDonald’s. The most beautiful thing in Stockholm is McDonald’s. The most beautiful thing in Florence is McDonald’s. Peking and Moscow don’t have anything beautiful yet.” Perhaps he was being ironic, which is worse.

I’ve never been taken by the mystique of Warhol, the most famous exponent of Pop Art. Rather, I think the rage of the late art critic Robert Hughes in his 2008 documentary The Mona Lisa Curse was righteous. Hughes hated the cult of wealth and emptiness which is Warhol’s legacy to the art world. Thankfully, there are no soup tins and Marilyns in the new exhibition, The World Goes Pop, at Tate Modern, London, though Warhol’s shadow is everywhere.

The intentions of the exhibition are good: rather than focus on the British and American tradition, the curators have searched hard for lesser-known artists from around the world who made Pop Art in the Sixties and Seventies as a form of dissent against systems of power: military dictatorships in Latin America, the war in Vietnam, the oppression of women. The aim here is not to idealise consumerism, but to “explode the traditional story of Pop Art”. Unfortunately, the exhibition is a mess.

The term Pop Art was coined in Britain in the 1950s. The British artist Richard Hamilton described it as “Popular (designed for a mass audience); Transient (short-term solution); Expendable (easily forgotten); Low Cost; Mass Produced; Young (aimed at Youth); Witty; Sexy; Gimmicky; Glamorous; and Big Business”.

Few works by American artists are included in the exhibition, but the works by international artists often use the visual language of American pop culture to critique American political and cultural domination. In this way, America remains the focus. A lot of the work feels too much in thrall to the charisma of the bully.

The walls are painted in lurid colours: bubble-gum pink and sour yellow. The aesthetic is often migraine-inducing, a frenzied mix of high and low culture, with hysterical montages that rail against their own raw material: the mass media. It’s great that so much feminist art is included, but a lot of it is not very good. This is a shame: the exhibition could offer an important archive of a period of intense female creativity.

A whole room is dedicated to the Czech artist Jana Želibská’s installation, Kandarya-Mahadeva (1969), named after a Hindu temple in India. The walls are adorned with huge, white, female figures and garlands of flowers. The genitals of the figures are covered by mirrors in which the viewer can see herself. It is a mystical homage to female eroticism. This is not a good use of space; it feels dated.

The novelist Angela Carter wrote on this tendency within the women’s movement: “If women allow themselves to be consoled for their culturally determined lack of access to the modes of intellectual debate by the invocation of hypothetical great goddesses, they are simply flattering themselves into submission (a technique often used on them by men).”

More successful is Consumer Art (1972-75), a film fragment by the Polish artist Natalia LL, which plays on a loop. It shows a close-up of a beautiful young blonde woman seemingly experiencing sexual ecstasy as a white foamy liquid dribbles out of her mouth. The film is a parody of the use of pornographic imagery in advertising, which gained force alongside the sexual revolution of the time. But it is not just absurd; it is magnetic. In this way, the artist ensnares the viewer in a trap of desire. She makes you want what she is mocking.

Some of the best works in the exhibition come from Spain. The Punishment (1969) by Rafael Canogar is simple and stark. It is a sculpture of a man in a black suit who has fallen at the feet of an authority figure. The latter is no more than a dark shadow on wood, truncheon raised. The fallen man’s face is hidden. Perhaps the title of the work refers to the possible consequences of making the artwork itself. Franco had not yet died. This is art with much at stake.

A painting which hints at the horror beneath the surface of Franco’s Spain is Isabel Oliver’s Happy Reunion (1970-3). It shows a scene in a middle-class living-room: women are laughing and talking. It’s polite. But outside the window, a Dali-esque landscape of melting forms and swirling colour can be seen; it appears a psychosis, held at a distance. The image is undermined by the inclusion of a giraffe on fire. This makes the whole seem tacky.

Another striking work from Spain is Concentration or Quantity becomes Quality (1966) by the collective Equipo Crónica. The series of nine paintings shows a transformation from isolation to collective strength. In the first painting, a few solitary individuals are surrounded by vast grey space. Over the course of the series, the space fills up with people. In the last painting, there is a dense crowd. This work, too, was made in the last decade of the Franco regime: at that time, it perhaps reflected hope, rather than reality.

One of the worst paintings is Big Tears For Two (1963) by the Icelandic artist Erró. It shows a cartoon version of Picasso’s painting The Weeping Woman (1937) alongside a Disney cartoon of a weeping train. It is awful. The implication is that high art and low art have been levelled; one is no more profound than the other. Both expressions of grief are equally valid. Except that they are not.

Picasso’s painting conveyed the pain of a woman who was living through the Spanish Civil War. Her tears were representative of all those who had lost their loved ones during the fight against fascism. The crying cartoon train is an aberration in this context. It is offensively facile. The painting is quite hateful.

Yet Erró also made the American Interior series (1968), some of the most affecting anti-war images in the exhibition. These paintings on fabric show calm American suburban homes invaded by Viet Cong soldiers. They articulated a primal fear of American society, and reversed the reality: American soldiers were invading the homes of the Vietnamese at the time.

Some of the best works use graphic design in the service of activism. The French artist Gérard Fromanger’s Album the Red (1968-70) includes an image of a “bleeding” French flag. The red stripe drips into the white and the blue. It symbolises the wounding of the French establishment in the era of May 1968. Another imaginative protest work is The Red Coat (1969) by the French artist Nicola L. Made of bright red vinyl, this vast, tent-like coat can be worn by eleven people at once. They share a “collective skin”.

Several feminist works seem ripostes to the British artist Allen Jones’s female furniture, which caused outrage at the time because it showed women in positions of extreme submissiveness. Woman Sofa (1968) by Nicola L is a silver vinyl assemblage of female limbs, designed to be sat on. Whereas Jones’s fibre‑glass female dummies on all fours were grotesque but stylish works of art, Woman Sofa is just ugly. Perhaps ugliness here is a political principle.

Man Chair (1971) by the Czech artist Ruth Francken is a chair in the shape of a headless man. It is sleek and white and elegant, but it does not point to a new dawn of equality. Rather, it reverses the old power dynamic of master/slave. Mattress (1962) by the Argentinian artist Marta Minujín is simply a dirty old striped mattress; it shouldn’t have been included in the exhibition.

While much of Pop Art rejected the idea of “good taste” as elitist, good taste is badly needed in this exhibition. Too many of these works are nostalgic at best.

Tate Modern, London, 17 September to 24 January (


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Sep 18 2015 at 12:15 AM Updated Sep 18 2015 at 12:15 AM

Tate Modern exhibition reveals the dark side of Pop Art

In a new exhibition at Tate Modern in London, the political, purposeful side of the Pop Art movement comes under the spotlight.

Ushio Shinohara's "Doll Festival" is a surreal, yet prescient, comment on the Americanisation of Japanese culture.
Ushio Shinohara’s “Doll Festival” is a surreal, yet prescient, comment on the Americanisation of Japanese culture.
by The EconomistBernard Rancillac’s At Last, a Silhouette Slimmed to the Waist (pictured) contains a clear visual pun. Painted in 1966 and set against bright green jungle, it shows a soldier plunging a Vietcong prisoner headfirst into a large water vessel. Pushing his boot down on his captive’s back, gripping his twisted leg, the soldier submerges the man to the waist. At the top of the canvas, floating above this scene, five women stretch and pose in body-shaping lingerie. Labels point out their slimming corsets.

The work is at the heart of The World Goes Pop, a new exhibition about the global dimensions of Pop Art that opens at Tate Modern in London on September 17. The painting imitates magazines’ juxtaposition of fashion and news reporting, and pulls them together tightly with the title. The work can be hung either way up, the reversible composition presenting each exhibitor with a difficult decision: highlight the horrors of the Vietnam war or go for the latest fashion fad?

The choice encapsulates the paradox that is Pop Art, a movement that adopted the aesthetic of commercial design and popular culture – with its clear figuration, distinct colour, neat outlines, bold text and humour – for its own ends. Every work can read as eye-candy or erudite criticism; it can show froth or fury or both.

The World Goes Pop addresses this dialectic. Bringing together 160 works from the 1960s and 1970s and from across the world, it contests the idea that Pop was merely an adoring reflection of consumer culture and places the political, purposeful side of the movement under the spotlight. Its geographical range also forces a reassessment of the idea that Pop Art radiated solely from a small nucleus of artists based in New York and London.

"At Last, a Silhouette Slimmed to the Waist" by Bernard Rancillac can be hung either way up.
“At Last, a Silhouette Slimmed to the Waist” by Bernard Rancillac can be hung either way up. Tate Modern

There are works here from Japan, the Soviet Union, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe. Barely any of the names frequently associated with it – Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Peter Blake – are included. Filling the colourful rooms instead is work that has never been shown in Britain, by artists whom most visitors will not have heard of (many of them, through ignorance or through active indifference, did not even see themselves as part of a Pop Art movement).

Unified diversity

Despite the diversity, a striking, playful aesthetic unifies the show. There are works that echo Warhol in their use of primary colours, brand logos and press photography. There are also the hard-edged lines, Ben-Day dots and comic-strip figures that frequent Lichtenstein’s work, and three-dimensional collages similar to Blake’s.

But the messages that these artists seek to convey are various, a point made straight away by the work in the introductory room. Among them is Ushio Shinohara’s Doll Festival, a striking triptych, three metres wide, in which blank-faced figures in traditional Japanese dress surround a man in a black Stetson in a surreal, yet prescient, comment on the Americanisation of Japanese culture. There is Evelyne Axell’s Valentine, in which a zip runs down a sinuous, painted silhouette, in a provocative gesture of female sexuality unleashed. Big Tears for Two, 1963, by Erró, an Icelandic artist, transmutes Picasso’s Weeping Woman into a jaunty cartoon, looking to expose the myths behind image making. Each represents a type of protest against the established norms. Passing through themed rooms with titles such as Pop Politics, Pop at Home and Folk Pop, it becomes clear that, across the world, artists were using a particular visual vocabulary, learnt from popular culture and commercial art, to give voice to political, personal and local concerns.

"Bombs in Love", by Kiki Kogelnik, 1962.
“Bombs in Love”, by Kiki Kogelnik, 1962. Tate Modern

This is not a comprehensive exhibition; Pop was not always protest. A lot of it celebrated everyday culture. Tate deliberately underplays these frivolous dimensions – it chooses the Vietnam war, not the underwear models. But this is a timely reassessment, given that works of Pop Art have become astoundingly expensive commodities, representative – cliches even – of a powerful luxury market. By throwing light on the darker side of Pop, Tate reveals its hidden depths.



Tate Modern highlights pop art by women ignored by sexist establishment

Many of the works overlooked in the 1960s and 70s will be seen in public for the first time when they go on display in London

Friends, 1971, by Kiki Kogelnik is part of the World Goes Pop exhibition at Tate Modern.
Friends, 1971, by Kiki Kogelnik is part of the World Goes Pop exhibition at Tate Modern. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex Shutterstock

Work by female artists from the 1960s and 70s that was marginalised and ignored by a sexist art establishment is finally getting recognition in a major pop art show at Tate Modern.

“It’s never too late,” said Jessica Morgan, curator of the World Goes Pop exhibition, explaining how she and her fellow curators spent five years uncovering the hidden stories from an art movement largely remembered as Anglo-American and male.

The part played by female artists in particular had been “removed and erased” from the story of pop art. One of those artists is Judy Chicago who made her name in 1979 with her installation The Dinner Party, on permanent display at the Brooklyn Museum.

Bez Buntu by Jerzy Ryszard Zielinski.
Bez Buntu by Jerzy Ryszard Zielinski. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex Shutterstock

Asked how sexist the art establishment was in the 60s, Chicago threw up her arms and exclaimed: “Oh my God! When I left graduate school I was exhibiting in a climate that was unbelievably inhospitable to women. It was a real struggle.”

Chicago, whose work will be displayed at Tate Modern 50 years after she started it, recalled the response of her male teachers to the work. “There were wombs and breasts … eurgh! In the early 60s, I was just emerging from graduate school and making images like this and my male professors hated them – hated them! I had to change what I was doing or I would not have gotten my masters.”

The works are personal stories – represented by imagery that includes reproductive body parts – spray-painted on to car bonnets or hoods, but her teachers’ response meant she did not complete them until 2011.

The Tate Modern exhibition contains about 160 works, most of which are going on display in the UK for the first time. Some of the pieces by both female and male artists are from parts of the world not normally associated with pop art – including eastern Europe, Latin America, Asia and the Middle East.

“This show is fabulous, it’s wonderful,” said Chicago. “You think about pop art, you think about the white boys from America celebrating consumer culture. Who knew that the language was allowing artists around the world to bend it, to critique the policies of America, to critique the use of women in popular culture. Who knew?”

Dorothée Selz.
Dorothée Selz. Photograph: Guy Bell/Rex Shutterstock

Morgan, meanwhile, said the art establishment of the 60s was undeniably sexist and many female artists were often doubly misunderstood because they were thought to be telling the same stories as their male counterparts.

The French artist Dorothée Selz is featured in the show with works from 1973, in which she recreates the poses of three pin-up girls. “It is the only time in my entire career that I used myself,” she said. “Pop art objectified women but I do this … it is another vision. There are excellent male pop artists like Allen Jones and Andy Warhol, but normally the woman is to be nice and beautiful and ready to eat. Here I am questioning that with humour.”

The idea of the exhibition is to show how pop art was far more than a celebration of western consumerism – it was also a subversive international language for criticism and protest.

Most of the works never made it into public collections and the majority are being lent to the gallery by artists or their estates.

Morgan said many of the pieces had a far harder edge than traditional pop art and were ahead of their time. “If you are based in Latin America and living through the junta taking place in Argentina and Brazil, your relationship to news media [and] to US commercial culture has a much more abrasive quality to it than the celebration we associate with most work in the US and the UK.”

She said the curators had been like excavators, discovering little-known works and stories from all over the world. “We encountered such an incredible bounty of work from all these different places. Much of it completely unfamiliar to me and my colleagues.”

The EY Exhibition: The World Goes Pop is at Tate Modern 17 September-24 January.



Tate Modern Tracks Pop Art’s Global Heft

A new exhibit at London’s Tate Modern examines pop art not only in America but around the world. The 67 artists in the show reveal the movement’s spread well beyond headliners like Warhol and Lichtenstein

Mississippi painter Joe Overstreet was flipping through a magazine in 1964 when he spotted an article about a former slave named Nancy Green. At the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, advertisers had hired Ms. Green to dress up as a servant to promote Aunt Jemima pancake mix, which was named for a fictional black cook. Mr. Overstreet, who is black, viewed the publicity stunt as racially charged and created “The New Jemima,” an oversize plywood pancake “box” portraying Green with a machine gun that shoots out pancakes.

“I liked the idea that she would cook with the machine gun and then if somebody [was] messing with her she’d be shooting them with the machine gun,” says Mr. Overstreet, now 82 years old.

Mr. Overstreet’s piece is one of 160 works in “The World Goes Pop,” an exhibition of 68 artists at London’s Tate Modern. The show, which opens Sept. 17, is the first to explore in-depth how artists in many other countries interpreted the movement dominated by white, male icons in America and the U.K. Works by women artists make up 40% of the exhibition. Previous major museums on the subject have focused on figures such as Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, and Roy Lichtenstein.

“Like everyone, I traditionally associated pop art with those big American names,” says Tate curator Flavia Frigeri.

Scholars characterize the pop-art movement, which began in the mid-1950s and reached its zenith in the 1960s, as preoccupied with politics, the American dream and consumer products, often depicted in sleek styles and bold colors. Ms. Frigeri sees these motifs in the works in the Tate show. But while Warhol and Lichtenstein reveled in ambiguity “about whether or not they were complicit with creating a consumer society or pushing back against it,” most pop artists she discovered opposed consumerism and sexism.

Joe Overstreet’s ‘The New Jemima,’ 1964 ENLARGE
Joe Overstreet’s ‘The New Jemima,’ 1964 Photo: Joe Overstreet

The Vietnam War, which began in the 1950s and concluded in 1975, was another topic for major American artists including the Swedish-born Oldenburg. But it also resonated in Europe and Latin America, where artists watched the conflict unfold on recently purchased televisions and opposed violence in Vietnamese communities.

For “the first time, the brutality of the war, the suffering of their people, was coming directly to me,” says octogenarian Brazilian artist Teresinha Soares who has two works in the show from a 1968 series titled “Vietnam.”

German artist Ulrike Ottinger says she had to retrieve her 1967-68 triptych featuring wars as pinball games from her mother’s storage area when the Tate asked to borrow the piece. Though Ms. Ottinger found success as a filmmaker, she and most pop artists in the show struggled to sell their work. Many of the artists haven’t sold their works at auction. Those who have generally fetched their highest prices between $6,000 and $30,000, according to auction analyst artnet. Some careers were hamstrung by the lack of strong ties between international dealers and the powerful New York pop scene.

“America was absolutely sovereign. There was no doubt already that it was dominating” the market in the 1960s and 1970s, says German artist Thomas Bayrle. His 1967 “Laughing Cow” wallpaper, inspired by Warhol’s 1966 silk-screen of cow heads, drew a cult following in Germany but didn’t take off elsewhere.

Mr. Overstreet, the Mississippi creator of “The New Jemima,” enlarged his work and sold it for $8,000 in 1970 to the Menil Collection in Houston. Andy Warhol’s “Race Riot,” a silk-screen portrait of violence against civil-rights protesters, sold last year at Christie’s for $62.8 million.

Specialists from Christie’s and Sotheby’s plan to see the show. Sotheby’s specialist Cheyenne Westphal says some of her North American clients are hoping to expand their pop art collections beyond famous names.

What’s Up? Check Out Frieze London 2015






What not to miss at Frieze London and Frieze Masters

What not to miss at Frieze London and Frieze Masters
For the last 13 years, Frieze London has been the biggest contemporary carnival in London’s art calendar. It’s the place to see and be seen, taking in all that the international art word has to offer under one roof. Then four years ago it was joined by its sister fair, Frieze Masters that bridged the gap between ancient and mid-century, making the Frieze Fair phenomenon a force to be reckoned with. So with thousands of artworks to see, where do you start? Here are just a few of the exhibits that you don’t want to miss.

Get down like Beyoncé to Frieze Masters

Frieze Masters 2014: Helly NahmadPhoto: Stephen Wells, Courtesy Stephen Wells/Frieze.

Last year, the stand-out booth of Frieze Masters came from Helly Nahmad who worked with a set designer to create a spectacular installation of a fictional collector’s home. Ol’ Beyoncé Instagramed her heart away at this exhibit and the gallery has promised something truly outstanding again this year, but what else can you expect? Lisson Gallery (E7) has dedicated their entire stand to the Cuban-born, New York-based artist Carmen Herrera in celebration of her 100th birthday. Richard Green (E2) will be bringing the Cornish coastline to the capital on his stand showing Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson together. And LA-based David Kordansky (C6) is going all colourful with a solo display of twentieth century American artist Sam Gilliam.

Keep it contemporary at Frieze London

Left: Mira Dancy at Night Gallery. Right: © Frieze London

Each year Frieze London wows audiences with bright, diverse, glitzy, unexpected and Instagrammable presentations of contemporary art. With 164 galleries under one roof, where do you start? Whether you like to strategically follow the grid layout or are more inclined towards an unorthodox approach, make sure you catch Los Angeles-based Night Gallery (G27), a new addition to the fair, with their solo display of Mira Dancy. If unconventional is your thing then seek out Jeremy Herbert’s underground chamber as part of Frieze Projects – there be stairs to we don’t know where! And why not get involved at some of this year’s live events that include a processional piece by Tunga at Galeria Franco Noero and Luhring Augustine (L6). At Arcadia Missa (L3) security guards will be asking for your mobile phones before you can encounter Amalia Ulman’s performance and Ken Kagami will be creating free portraits at Misako & Rosen (G19).

Catch your breath with some free outdoor art

Frieze Sculpture Park 2014: KAWS Galerie Perrotin. Photo: Linda Nylind. Courtesy of Linda Nylind/Frieze.

After you’ve had enough of traipsing up and down the aisles of the fairs, you can take the free Frieze Sculpture Park set within Regents Park’s English Garden. It’s the perfect outdoor autumnal respite, and Claire Lilley of Yorkshire Sculpture Park has once again selected an impressive line-up of new and historical works. There’ll be a major installation by Richard Serra who does monumental like no-one else and Anri Sala presents his ‘Holey Wall’ around which live performances have been programmed.

Read our guide to Frieze London and Frieze Masters.



Frieze Art Fair 2015: There’s a better chance of bagging a bargain this year

Britain’s biggest and blingiest art fair begins next week, with original unique works by younger artists starting under £1,000. These are the artists to look out for and the events to be seen at.

The cliché around Frieze Art Fair is glitz: trophy art collectors with budgets the size of a luxury yacht swoop down on the capital to attend opening parties sponsored by Gucci. It’s a voyeur’s glimpse into a gilded dream life where one might buy a photograph by Jeff Wall, which is on show with a price tag of £1m, or there’s a Wolfgang Tillmans for just over £50,000. A sculpture titled recklessdisasters(1) by Phyllida Barlow is £25,000 from Hauser & Wirth.

For five days the international art world is squashed into a giant tent in Regent’s Park. Like in the television series The Great British Bake-Off, the showstopper is an important part of Frieze. More subtle artworks can disappear in the mass of aisles and booths, which welcomes an audience of 60,000, from the most influential collectors and curators to curious tourists and art enthusiasts. For gallerists, curators and artists, the pressure is on to shine.

Lisson Gallery has imported a sculpture titled Iron Root by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. It’s a tree root from southern China cast in iron and then painted with custom colours used for the Chinese market by car manufacturers  –this sculpture is purple. The price is a secret but Ai set a record earlier this year with a series of gold- plated animal heads that went for £2.8m.

“There’s a lot of noise around Frieze so we try to do something that excites us, that excites the artists and hope that this then translates to the audience,” says Iwan Wirth, of London gallery Hauser & Wirth. “We try to do it in a way that we enjoy and that artists enjoy and it’s not just bringing stuff to a fair, or work by some hot young artist. You’ve got to be smart and make your booth work for a fair where the attention span is so small. We try to make a difference, raise the bar a bit.”

Hauser & Wirth has organised an exhibition based on the theme of a field for their booth at Frieze London this year. With sculpture by Isa Genzken (around £22,000) and Jason Rhoades (around £100,000) among others, the idea is that the booth becomes a field of carefully selected sculptures, all on pedestals, in which visitors can get lost for a while – rather like the experience of Frieze itself.

“We try to approach it with humour,” says Wirth, “because when you think about it, it’s funny that the fair happens to be in field in the middle of town and we all come to camp out in it. Quite often it’s the worst weather, and the service is lousy.”

This year as part of Frieze Projects there’s a chamber beneath the main tent, which contains a room designed by artist Jeremy Herbert, who as a set designer built stages for Madonna. It’s art as experience rather than object, and Herbert is the pioneer of a silent wind machine. Visitors will be buffeted by soundless gusts, like being hit by the Invisible Man.

Frieze Masters, now in its third year, is usually a cut above, a place where serious money changes hands, and museums scout out important artworks. This year there’s an emphasis on collecting and not just conventional artworks. Sir Norman Rosenthal has curated a section titled Collections in which fascinating oddities such as collection of 19th-century Pacific fish hooks made of shell and turtle shell are on show.

AN81970521BARLO46473 Phylli.jpg
Phyllida Barlow, Untitled: recklessdisasters (1) 2011

There will be an elegant display where Moretti Fine Art and Hauser & Wirth have joined booths to show work by recent greats along with old masters. There’s sculpture by French artist Louise Bourgeois and paintings by Austrian artist Hermann Nitsch whose radical artworks echo the human body with orifices and blood-red drips – his prices at auction have varied from £8,000 to £50,000, which is cheap for such a seminal artist. There’s an opportunity to buy an 18th-century painting by Bernardo Bellotto, which belonged to the Earl of Carlisle at Castle Howard before it was sold for just over £2.5m in auction earlier this year. Top-end sales in both old master and contemporary art grab attention but they are more rare than it might seem.

“It’s a few very hot artists who are expensive,” says Wirth, “and that has always been the case. The primary market is not expensive, and original unique works by younger artists start under £1,000. My advice is unless you can afford it be a contrarian and look in the other direction where you’ll find plenty of great artists that are reasonable.”

For smaller galleries, Frieze is their most important date of the year. Hannah Robinson, director of Mary Mary, points out that there’s no real art market in Glasgow, where her gallery is based. Frieze is a chance to introduce new artists to an international market as well as meet collectors and curators. “It’s not only about sales,” she says, “but touching base with clients or meeting new clients.” For those who can’t make the trek to Glasgow, it’s a chance to see work by less well-known talents such as painters Jonathan Gardner and Helen Johnson, as well as elegant drawings by LA-based Milano Chow. Robinson also shows Jesse Wine, a British artist who works with ceramics. His smaller sculptures of vessel-shaped objects that spew tomato vines are priced at £7,000.

For Wine, Frieze is a chance to get his work seen by a huge audience. His sculpture Let Me Entertain You is a tall thin ceramic tower of shapes based on dried citrus fruit – “with the occasional apple”, as the artist points out. It’ll be on show in the Frieze Sculpture Park, curated by the Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s Clare Lilley, and his smaller ceramics will also be in Limoncello gallery. Wine says: “The tough side is that it is about sales. If it goes well you’re really happy because you’re getting paid and you need to get paid in order to continue your projects. If it doesn’t go well then it’s weird, it’s quite  confusing, and then you begin to wonder why the hell you’re there.”

“Artists can be ambivalent about art fairs,” says London gallerist Maureen Paley, “but if you trust your gallery you know they will make every effort to give the work more space to breath. That’s the challenge.”

This year Paley will show artists Rebecca Warren, Liam Gillick, Anne Hardy, Gillian Wearing and Wolfgang Tillmans in her booth. In a new photograph, titled Me As Ghost, Wearing has projected her portrait on to a puff of smoke.

For most commercial galleries, the best outcome is for work at Frieze to be bought by a museum or foundation .“It’s always exciting,” says Paley, “because it means that work will be taken into the public domain, which makes it available to a broader group of people. However, all collectors and their varied interests make a strong contribution.”

More modest collections might begin with a limited-edition print from Allied Editions – a print of an elegant architectural drawing by Pablo Bronstein is available for £350, or another, by painter Matt Connors, is £1,000.

The signs for Frieze 2015 point to a strong year for sales. Wirth says: “There is some concern as to the effect from China and the slowdown of the emerging economies but the contemporary market is very healthy, very robust and people are very optimistic.’

However, for most people Frieze is simply an opportunity to look at art and have a good time: “You get to see a lot of stuff very quickly,” says artist Ryan Gander, “and get a really good overview of what people are up to, not in terms of their wider practice and big projects but of what they’re interested in and what’s happening in their studio. Most artists are critical of art fairs because it seems overly commercial but it’s a good chance to meet your friends from all around the world. It’s like a school reunion.”

Frieze Art Fair, London NW1 ( 14 to 17 October 

AN29769849Frieze Art Fair R.jpg

Five artists to look out for:

Jonathan Gardner

Chicago-based Jonathan Gardner’s paintings draw from the era of bygone greats (Picasso, Matisse and Léger) to create scenes of languid and long-limbed girls with geometric breasts. (At Mary Mary)

Jesse Wine 

Jesse Wine’s ceramic sculpture follows no logic: red gilets and shorts suspended in the air above ceramic footwear; odd-shaped bulbous forms with surfaces like moss or rust; a tower of giant citrus fruit. Witty and joyful, they embody craft as much as concept.  (At Limoncello)

Carmen Herrera

She celebrated her 100th birthday this year, and Cuban abstract painter Carmen Herrera remains on top form. The Lisson Gallery booth in Frieze Masters is dedicated to her colourful geometric forms. (At Lisson)

Melvin Edwards

A pioneer among artists who engaged with race and the civil-rights movement, Melvin Edwards works with welded steel, chains and barbed wire. Abstract sculpture like cool clean minimalism from the Sixties.  (At Stephen Friedman)

Samara Scott Samara Scott’s installation for The Sunday Painter resembles a pond with a bedazzled surface beneath the water. Titled ‘Lonely Planet’, it contains a mass of materials: noodles, tights, wine, nail varnish, food colouring, insulation foam. A shimmered surface becomes a meditation on consumption and waste. (At The Sunday Painter)


Parties to be seen at:

Institute of  Contemporary Arts

The ICA hosts the first official Frieze bar during Frieze week.

Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London SW1

East End Night/ West End Night  

On Wednesday evening, East End Night means galleries stay open until 8pm. On Thursday, West End Night, repeats the same idea in the West End.

Royal Academy

On Thursday, the Royal Academy hosts the private view for Ai Weiwei’s exhibition.

Royal Academy, Burlington Gardens, London W1

Delfina Foundation 

Delfina Foundation’s  opening party happens  the Friday before Frieze.

Delfina Foundation, Catherine Place, London, SW1

Maureen Paley gallery

An opening party on Monday of Frieze week celebrates a new body of work by Liam  Gillick, the star of Joanna Hogg’s film ‘Exhibition’.

Maureen Paley, Herald Street, London E2


Art News
 Frieze Week, collateral Art Fairs, Guide
Frieze Art Week & Alternative Collateral Events Guide 2015 - ArtLyst Article image

Frieze Art Week & Alternative Collateral Events Guide 2015


Artlyst is excited to announce the release of their essential, online, Frieze and Frieze Week collateral Art Fair Guide, for London 2015. This includes important information about the main fair and the collateral events launching the week of 12 October, with the main fair opening to the public on the 14th running till the 17th October. 

Each year we curate indispensable information about the best exhibitions and events on offer during Frieze week. This year we are fortunate to be media partners with three must see events: ‘The Future Can Wait’ an exhibition established in 2007 by curators Zavier Ellis and Simon Rumley, launching the Art Bermondsey Project Space  ‘Silent Movies’ in the Cavendish Square Car Park curated by the Artists Vanya Balogh and Cedric Christie and Art Below who provide posters in various underground stations. our capital is over-run with the international art set, who flock to this once a year cultural phenomenon. Frieze and Frieze Masters promises to showcase an up to date overview of the current art market allowing art lovers to pay homage to the best (and some of the worst) in visual art.  Like Art Basel and Art Basel Miami these fairs make no bones about being massive art trade shows. The galleries involved are there to sell and this year the main Frieze fair showcases 160 of the worlds leading contemporary art galleries. What ever you do don’t miss the smaller art fairs and events that are springing up like dandelions all around the capital next week.

We will be updating this page all week, so pop back again for more listings!

The Main Frieze Art Fair

Frieze showcases 160 of the worlds leading contemporary art galleries. Participating Galleries  (PV 13 Oct.) 14-17 Oct 2015 Public openings Closed Sunday –  Regents Park Tube Station

Frieze Masters 2015 (PV 13th Oct.) 14-17 Oct. Public opening –  Camden Town Tube Station and long walk ….

Frieze Masters is described as an art fair that offers a contemporary lens on historical art.  The fair features leading galleries showcasing art made before the year 2000, ranging from the ancient era and Old Masters to the late 20th century.

Frieze Projects 2015

Frieze has announced their 2015 Projects, where they will be presenting seven new commissions for the London fair. Along with the support of the LUMA Foundation, this year’s programme is inspired by Frieze London’s temporary structure in The Regent’s Park and explores propositions for mobile architectures and alternative realities. Nicola Lees, Curator of Frieze Projects, has invited practitioners and collectives from disciplines including architecture, publishing and theatre design to transform, subvert, and interact with the social, structural and cultural dynamics of the fair. Initiated in 2003, Frieze Projects is an unique non-profit commissioning platform for emerging, under-represented and innovative practices within one of the world’s leading contemporary art fairs. The Frieze Projects participants at Frieze London 2015 are: ÅYRBRB, Lutz Bacher, castillo/corrales, Thea Djordjadze, Jeremy Herbert, Asad Raza and Rachel Rose, winner of the 2015 Frieze Artist Award.

Frieze Film 2015 (13th Oct. PV) 14-17 Public

The artists participating in Frieze Film 2015 are: Charles Atlas with Rashaun Mitchell + Silas Riener, Xavier Cha, Gery Georgieva and Thirteen Black Cats.

Frieze Focus 2015: (13th Oct) PV 14-17 Public

Focus continues to evolve into the definitive destination for young galleries, with seven exhibiting at Frieze London for the first time, from Antenna Space (Shanghai) to Hopkinson Mossman (Auckland). Curated by Raphael Gygax (Migros Museum, Zurich) and Jacob Proctor (Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society, University of Chicago), Focus provides an unparalleled insight into the world’s emerging talents and will include solo presentations by Harold Ancart (Clearing, New York); Stano Filko (Galerie Emanuel Layr, Vienna); Maria Pininska-Beres (Dawid Radziszewski); Samara Scott (The Sunday Painter, London) and Amie Siegel (Simon Preston Gallery, New York).

Frieze Live (13th Oct PV) 14-18 Oct Public opening

‘Live’ is dedicated to ambitious performance-based installations and will include works specially conceived for Frieze as well as the re-staging of a number of important historical pieces. Live Artists include: Arcadia Missa, London Amalia Ulman, Luhring Augustine, New York / Franco Noero, Turin Tunga , Meyer Riegger, Berlin Eva Koťátková

Misako & Rosen, Tokyo Ken Kagami, Southard Reid, London Edward Thomasson & Lucy Beech, Kate Werble Gallery, New York Rancourt / Yatsuk

Frieze Talks 14-17 2015  Oct. Public opening 

Talks include Energy as Clickbait: Douglas Coupland in conversation with Emily Segal, Wednesday 14 October, 1pm, Tania Bruguera: Aesth-ethics: Art with Consequences Wednesday 14 October, 5pm, The New Museums: Coming Soon to a City Near You, Thursday 15 October, 1pm, Anicka Yi in conversation with Darian Leader, Thursday 15 October, 5pm,  Bad. Planetary-scale. Delicious: Metahaven in conversation with Justin McGuirk Friday 16 October, 1pm, Off-Centre: Can Artists Still Afford to Live in London? Friday 16 October, 5pm,  Heart of Darkness in the City of London: Fiona Banner in conversation with Emily King Saturday 17 October, 12pm,  Viv Albertine in conversation with Gregor Muir, Saturday 17 October, 1pm, Keynote Lecture: Vivienne Westwood Saturday 17 October, 5pm

Frieze Sculpture Park next to main fair marquee is Free! 

Frieze Week Satellite Art Fair and Events Guide 2015


THE FUTURE CAN WAIT presents London’s biggest independent curated exhibition.

Established in 2007 by curators Zavier Ellis and Simon Rumley, THE FUTURE CAN WAIT returns for its 9th year as a collaboration with State Media to launch Olympus’ Art Bermondsey Project Space at 183-185 Bermondsey Street SE1 3UW. Located adjacent to White Cube Bermondsey, the exhibition will take place over three floors of the former Victorian paperworks.

13-17 October 2015 at Art Bermondsey Project Space, 183-185 Bermondsey Street SE1 3UW


SILENT MOVIES Cavendish Square Car Park

Patron, Geoff Leong once again joins forces with dynamic artist-curator duo Vanya Balogh and Cedric Christie plus a new team of international guest curators to support one of the highlights of London’s Frieze week. This non profit exhibition featuring over 100 artists in the circular 20000 Sq ft multi storey car park beneath Cavendish Square.

18-19 October runs 24 hours non-stop at Q PARK, Central London Cavendish Square , London, W1G 0PN.



Sixteen of the most dynamic female artists in London together for TAKE! EAT!, an exhibition put together by Artist/Curators Diana Chire & MC Llamas. Situated on the door step of Frieze Art Fair, St Marylebone Parish Church will act as the backdrop for TAKE! EAT! which is anticipated to be one of the most notable guerrilla exhibitions of the year.

14th – 16th October 2015 St Marylebone Parish Church 17 Marylebone Rd, London, NW1 5LT

Sunday Art Fair 

SUNDAY is anything but a Sunday art fair! It is a gallery led art fair created as a platform for an intimate group of like minded emerging commercial galleries to present work by a diverse range of artists within a relaxed environment. The fair will return to London for its sixth edition showing a selection of 20 young international galleries. SUNDAY is recognised as an integral part of the London, UK and international cultural landscape. Housed in Ambika P3, a 14,000 square foot, triple height subterranean space, SUNDAY is free and open to all and last year welcomed over 6000 visitors.

14-18 October 2015, at Ambika P3, University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Rd, NW1 5LS, Baker St Station.

Sunday Art Fair 

The Other Art Fair

The Other Art Fair takes place at The Old Truman Brewery on 15-18 October 2015. This artist led fair is situated in the heart of London’s cultural East End, The Old Truman Brewery is a landmark arts venue and hosts a hive of creative businesses, galleries and events and provides the perfect new home for the fair during what is London’s most important and internationally renowned art week.

15-18 October 2015 at Old Truman Brewery, Hanbury Street E1 6QR



The Moniker Art Fair returns to Shoreditch from 16-18 October 2015. Moniker 2015 features designated artist project spaces combined with a commercial element. Each space is individually curated presenting a twist to the traditional art fair format. As the contemporary and urban art worlds increasingly overlap Moniker has continued to evolve, resulting in the most diverse array of artists to be showcased at Moniker to date.

16-18 October 2015 at Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane E1 6QL


MULTIPLIED is the UK’s only art fair dedicated to contemporary prints and editions. The fair is in its sixth instalment; returning once again to Christie’s, South Kensington.

16-18 October at Christie’s South Kensington 85 Old Brompton Road SW7 3LD


Set in the vibrant heart of Mayfair right in the middle of Berkeley Square, PAD is London’s leading fair for 20th Century art, design and decorative arts. From 14-18 October 2015, PAD inspires a unique spirit of collecting, PAD epitomises how modern art, photography, design, decorative and tribal arts interact to reveal astonishing combinations and create the most individual and staggering interiors. Prominent international galleries from major cities across Europe, North America and Asia come together to offer an exceptional panorama of the most coveted and iconic works available on the market today.

14-18 October 2015 at Berkeley Square, Mayfair W1


1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Dedicated to the 54 countries that make up the African continent, the fair represents the multiplicity and diversity of contemporary African Art. Now in its third year, the fair takes place from 15-18 October 2015 at Somerset House having returned from a successful New York debut earlier this year.

15-18 October 2015 at Somerset House, The Strand, WC2R 1LA



This autumn the biennial Sluice_fair returns to London with 35 artist/curator-run emerging galleries from around the world. Since its inception in 2011, Sluice’s emphasis has been on open and collaborative practice, with a strong program of education, performance and publishing.

16-18 October 2015,  Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf, South Bank SE1 9PH


Art Below

This October Art Below are showcasing the work of 20 international artists across billboard spaces at Regent’s Park underground station.  This is the fifth year running which coincides with Frieze Art Fair situated right beside Regent’s Park tube. The artists’ work will also be on show at London’s Gallery Different, located in the heart of Fitzrovia, just off Tottenham Court Road.

9-19th October, Gallery Different, 14 Percy St, London W1T 1DR.


Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery

John Hoyland Power Stations (Paintings 1964-82)

A major exhibition of works by the late John Hoyland, one of Britain’s leading abstract painters, is the first show at Damien Hirst’s newly-built London gallery Newport Street Gallery. Well worth a trip to see this impressive new space.

8th October 2015 – 3rd April 2016, Newport Street Gallery, Newport Street, London SE11 6AJ


Zabludowicz Collection

Charles Richardson’s animated videos of male identity and the absurdities of human existence alongside Canadian born artist Jon Rafman’s playful series of installations that immerse visitors within his video and sculptural works.

Until 20th December 2015 at 176 Prince of Wales Road, NW1 3PT.

Frieze ICA Bar in association with K11 Art Foundation

Throughout Frieze week, the ICA partners with Frieze Art Fair and K11 Art Foundation to host London’s first official Frieze ICA Bar. Taking place over a five-day period, special guests will host an evening of music and DJs in collaboration with NTS Radio. Plus daily musical performances from Chinese artist Zhang Ding who transforms the ICA Theatre into a ‘mutating sound sculpture’ with mirrored surfaces and suspended sound panels.

12 Oct 2015 – 16 Oct 2015, ICA, The Mall, SW1Y 5AH


Serpentine Galleries

Last week of Selgascano’s pavilion (closes 18 October) plus a new video by Tabor Robak and exhibition of work by American artist, poet and political activist Jimmie Durham.

Until 8 November, Serpentine Galleries, Kensington Gardens W2 3XA

Whitechapel Gallery:  Emily Jacir: Europ

This first UK survey of artist Emily Jacir focuses on her dialogue with Europe, Italy and the Mediterranean in particular. Known for her poignant works of art that are as poetic as they are political and biographical, Jacir explores histories of migration, resistance and exchange

Until 3 January 2016, Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street E1 7QX



Frieze London 2015: The Highlights

London’s largest art fair returns to Regent’s Park

Ken Okiishi, gesture-data (feedback), 2015. Oil Paint on flat-screen televisions. Courtesy of the artist and Pilar Corrias Gallery.

The 13th edition of the contemporary art fair returns to Regent’s Park from 14-17 October, with over 160 leading galleries exhibiting at the event. Here’s what not to miss…

The Galleries

Established names such as Cheim & Read, Galerie Kamel Mennour and Hauser & Wirth (who’ll be focusing their attentions on sculpture), will inhabit the same space as newcomers like the Sunday Painter Gallery, part of the burgeoning Vauxhall art scene. At the latter, the upcoming British artist Samara Scott exhibits her intriguing ‘water relief’ installation, Lonely Planet; she is one of seven artists exhibiting for the first time in the Frieze Focus space, so head here for the fresh talent. Elsewhere look out for the Paris-based artist Camille Henrot, another one to watch, whose installation Grosse Fatigue (2013) was awarded the Silver Lion at the 2013 Venice Biennale, and Jeff Wall’s Woman and Her Doctor (1980-81) photograph, largely for the eye-watering €1.4 million price tag.

Camille Henrot, Bad Dreams (Minor Concerns), 2015, Watercolor on paper. Courtesy of the artist & Kamel Mennour, Paris. 

The Performance Art

This year, Frieze has ramped up the focus on performance and participatory art in their curated section Frieze Live. Keep your eyes peeled for the processional performance Xifopagas Capilares (1984), translating as ‘Capillary Siamese Twins’, by the Brazillian artist TUNGA: two twin girls, umbilically connected by long braided hair will be walking around the fair. At the Misako & Rosen stand, the Tokyo-based artist Ken Kagami will be inviting visitors to a live portrait session (with a humorous twist).

Tunga, ‘Xifópagas Capilares’, 1984, fine art. Image courtesy of the artist and Galleria Franco Noero, Torino and Luhring Augustine, New York 

The Sculpture Park

The Sculpture Park returns to the English Gardens, this year curated by Clare Lilley of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. There will be artwork by Richard Serra of Peter Freeman in New York and Carol Bove of David Zwirner in London, as well as a 11–14th century AD pre-Ekoi monolith from Western Africa, courtesy of the Didier Claes gallery in Brussels. Entry is free so you can visit the beautifully adorned gardens as many times as you wish.

The Projects

This year the seven new commissions for Frieze Projects are by AYRBRB, Lutz Bacher, castillo/corrales, Thea Djodjadz, Jeremy Herbert, Asad Rasa and Rachel Rose. On entering the fair you’ll be greeted by the work of the American conceptual artist Lutz Bacher. The enigmatic artist (he’s renowned for never making a public appearance) has transformed the entrance hall using found objects from film sets. The space underneath the fair will be occupied by Jeremy Herbert, best known for his experimental theatre sets; he has built a sensory space inspired by the Valley of the Kings and the experience of entering a tomb. Those interested in the increasing impact of technology should visit the stand of AYRBRB. The London art collective are exploring the concept of the ‘smart home’ and raising questions about privacy and control. Taking kids? They’ll love this year’s Frieze Artist Award winner, Rachel Rose. Rose has created a scale-model of the fair structure, including sonic and visual depictions of the animals that live in Regent’s Park.

The Talks

This year’s Frieze Talks programme features speakers Tania Bruguera, Prem Sahib, Adrian Searle, Dame Vivienne Westwood and Anicka Yi, among others. On Wednesday, the artist and author Douglas Coupland will talk with Emily Segal of trend-forecasting group K-HOLE about how we generate personal and interpersonal energy, alone and together, and on Saturday, the keynote lecture will be held by Vivienne Westwood. The designer will be speaking about the changing relationship between art and her practice, the influence of children’s art on her work and her commitment to environmental and social activism. For those unable to visit the fair, an archive of Frieze Talks, including speakers such as John Baldessari, Boris Groys and Yoko Ono is available online at and on iTunes.

Greater New York 2015 at MoMA PS1 – Images and Texts





“Greater New York” Is a Bellwether—And It’s Time for Critics to Eat Their Words

By Julie Baumgardner

Youth-besotted,” “a pineapple ice cream soda,” and “a flashpoint” aren’t exactly descriptors that encourage reverence. And “Greater New York,” MoMA PS1’s quinquennial survey of emerging New York-based artists (which unveils for the fourth time this Sunday) hasn’t exactly inspired a legion of critical camaraderie. Nor has it inspired much curatorial approval. Ironically, it was none other than Peter Eleey, the chief curator of this year’s show, who 10 years ago described it as a “flashpoint” in a Frieze Magazine review. Yet looking through the past exhibitions’ rosters, from 2000, 2005, and 2010, the majority of the participants were featured at a crucial moment in their careers, a moment when they either blasted off or faded into obscurity. And most blasted off.

Featured in the inaugural 2000 “Greater New York,” Do Ho Suh exhibited with Lehmann Maupin in September of that year, and has remained with the gallery ever since—not to mention being labelled the “Art Innovator of the Year” in 2013 by the Wall Street Journal. That same year, Shirin Neshat peeled back the New York art world’s provincial bias against Middle Eastern art (in her case, photography), as did Ghada Amer, whose sexually charged paintings would find their way into Gagosian’s hands.

Five years later, the cards were stacked similarly with Carol Bove. That year’s show also included then-rising artists Wangechi Mutu, Paul Chan, and Dana Schutz, who in 10 years time have won legions of awards and major institutional surveys.

The last go-round was anything but amiss, too. Hank Willis Thomas? You’ve heard of him. And Ryan McNamara, Rashaad Newsome, Darren Bader, and LaToya Ruby Frazier—who also just won a MacArthur Genius Grant. Yet the prevailing critical view is resoundingly scathing. As Village Voice critic Christian Viveros-Faune once spouted, “I am reminded of the words of Samuel Johnson: ‘There is nothing uglier than that on the verge of beauty.’” But beauty—and, really, self-actualization—isn’t necessarily the point of these sorts of surveys, even if this one’s title locates it in aesthetic greatness.

How can a show that helped to launch so many careers be so divisive? So much so, it seems, that the forthcoming edition has changed its focus by “bringing together emerging and more established artists,” as the official statement goes. It continues on to explain that “the city itself is being reshaped by a voracious real estate market that poses particular challenges to local artists,” calling for us to “[examine] points of connection and tension between our desire for the new and nostalgia for that which it displaces.”

In 2015, newcomers like M. Lamar and C. Spencer Yeh will be placed in context with Kiki Smith and Gordon Matta-Clark. Skeptics will doubtlessly cry cowardliness. But what do the artists of past editions and those who’ve snapped them up since their debuts at “Greater New York” think? “Critics are allowed to say what they wish, and they always will. It does not—and could never—be the definitive opinion on whether or not the original curatorial intentions are successful,” says Kat Parker, director of Petzel Gallery, which represents Schutz, as well as other GNY alums Yael Bartana and Adam McEwen (who is also reprised for this year).

There’s often a schism between critical and market reception. But “‘Greater New York’ functions, as Roberta Smith put it, as a big-ring circus,” quips Fabienne Stephan, a curator at Salon 94, which shows Jimmy DeSana—another featured in this year’s show. “I get to watch and concentrate on an act and delve in if I want to. I do look to spot talent in the show.” The gallery brought on David Benjamin Sherry after his trippy photographic self-portrait and landscape series exhibited in the 2010 edition. “That’s where I first was impressed by Huma Bhabha,” says Stephan. “The piece she had in the show, Untitled (2005), was then reinstalled in her solo exhibition at PS1 three years ago and she is participating in ‘Greater New York’ again this year, 10 years later.”

The expanded criteria for 2015’s installment—mid-career, established, and previously exhibited artists—may seem to belie the pathos of the exhibition. After all, it is, as Parker says, “always viewed as a platform for younger, largely unknown artists.” However, as Thomas says, “survey shows have their place. They revitalize energy within the art world and they take a pulse of the time.” And in the New York area, with some 140,000 practicing artists living within its five boroughs, whose median age is 38, suffice to say that many artists here aren’t exactly spring chickens.

Perhaps the “pulse of the time” is no longer so youth-focused. And “emerging,” as institutional or collecting nomenclature, may be somewhat irrelevant. As Parker puts it: “In today’s day and age, digital media has made it virtually impossible to be unknown.” Likewise, New York harbors immense talent, often much of it overlooked and under-exhibited. Digging deeper—not broader—into its landscape may actually enable “Greater New York” to shed some of its flash-in-the-pan reputation.

Bruce High Quality Foundation (BHQF)—a playful, punky collective that heavily integrates education into their artmaking—exhibited at PS1 in 2010 with a moveable participatory installation that “allowed students from the greater New York area to swap used pedestals for new ones,” as the group describes. “We wanted to see if we could redirect a small production budget into a more intimate relationship with other young artists.” Perhaps that’s the conversation the New York art world needs right now. Not reiterating the perpetual gripes of the rising rents or unbalanced demographics, but creating continuity and connections in a multi-generational artistic community. BHQF were excited to hear that, this year, their former professor Robert Bordo is including paintings in “Greater New York.” “He’s a painter a lot of painters know and look at deeply, but his work doesn’t have the broad audience that it deserves,” they say. “So if ‘Greater New York’ gives this work a wider platform, it’s good for everyone.”

While PS1 and MoMA have lately been reviled for their corporate pockets and distracting celebrity-chasing curatorial strategy, the artists seem not to care. “I was more excited about the relationship of my work to viewers and audiences than I was thinking about my career, which probably wasn’t the smartest move on my part,” laughs Thomas. For all the drama “Greater New York” has engendered, it’s guaranteed to garner a large audience for its current roster, which looks promising.

“The New York art scene is so large and fractured, I don’t think one museum exhibition could ever accurately represent it entirely,” Parker says, “but from the list of artists included it seems that it is reflective of work made in New York over a specific time period and which may reveal itself to be more contemporary than we anticipate.” To quote Samuel Johnson, “The future is purchased by the present.”

Julie Baumgardner


Art World

Ben Davis on Why ‘Greater New York’ Matters for the International Art World

Ben Davis, Friday, October 9, 2015

Robert Kushner, <em>Samba Class</em> (1982) <br>Courtesy the artist. Photo by Pablo Enriquez

Greater New York” is upon us. While the massive, 157-artist show opens on October 11, the press begin their crawl Friday. It will be met, as all such surveys are now, with a flood of intensive Instragramming and insta-punditry. Here are some thoughts to keep in mind about what it all might mean—because the big show is different this year, and that difference says something about how New York is changing.

Specifically, it inaugurates a new concept: “Greater New York 2015″ is a post-“emerging art” survey.

Jimmy DeSana, <em>Contact Paper</em>(1980).<br> Courtesy Salon 94

The show began in 2000 as a way to consummate the odd-couple merger of PS1 and MoMA, welding the latter’s institutional clout with the former’s alternative vibe, limiting the range to artists to those who had their first solo shows in the last few years.

By the time its return edition opened in 2005 to coincide with the art fairs, the ever-expanding art market had already made this “emerging artist” focus feel like a visual-arts version of corporate indie rock.

“[T]his reincarnated enterprise had no way of separating itself from the market’s engorged desire for some institutional guidance among the sea of young artists now plying their wares in New York,” curator Peter Eleey wrote in Frieze of the 2005 affair. He added that “you half-expect dealers’ mobile phone numbers to show up on wall labels.”

A few years later, Eleey would join the MoMA PS1 team, and was promoted to Associate Director in 2013. He has overseen a big part of the curatorial work on this year’s show, so that decade-old review of “GNY 2005″ now reads as a negative manifesto.

“Greater New York 2015″ still presents plenty of “artists to watch.” In terms of the gallery representation of the artists involved, it seems to be pretty Lower East Side-y. The most influential art gallery here turns out to be the indie-ish 47 Canal, which shows Gregory Edwards (b. 1981), John Finneran (b. 1979), Ajay Kurian (b. 1984), and Stewart Uoo (b. 1985).

But the key number to remember is 48. That’s the average age of the participants overall. Those that are living, that is. The show contains a fair number of figures—from pioneering collage filmmaker Marie Menken (1909-1970) to the late, great Gordon Matta-Clark (1943-1978)—who are historical. (For “Greater New York” back in 2010, the average age would have been 34, by my calculations.)

Henry Flynt, <em>The SAMO© Graffiti</em> (1979).<br> Image: Collection Emily Harvey Foundation

In terms of demographics, there are more artists who are either Gen Xers (1965-1984) or Baby Boomers (1946-1964) than Millennials. Heck, there’s a significant Greatest Generation contingent.

Alvin Baltrop, <em>The Piers (With couple engaged in sex act)</em>(1975-86).<br>Courtesy Third Streaming

The “Greater New York” press release makes it clear that the changes in the focus of the show are the result of double pressures: the need to figure out what such a survey does in the age of constant art fairs, with their constant volleys of new product (reflecting Eleey’s long-ago criticism of “GNY 2005”); and the need to be faithful to the wave of nostalgia for New York’s wilder days triggered by “a voracious real estate market that poses particular challenges to local artists.” (It could be clearer that the real-estate boom and the art-boom are two halves of the same whole, so that what lifts art up with one hand pushes it down with the other.)

When Eleey wrote his review of the 2005 show, the gang on Sex and the City had just discovered Brooklyn existed. Now, Brooklyn is the least affordable housing market in the country. And so, the question that seems to hang over the show is how much space for the new there is left in New York.

This year’s “Greater New York” feels like its curators have added a question mark to the end of the title. I’m eager to see how it feels overall, but this in itself already says something about this prickly and soul-searching moment.


‘Thinking from the Present Allowed Us to Get to the Past’: Peter Eleey Talks the New Embrace of Old Work in ‘Greater New York’


“How does an artist live in New York City in 2015?” asked MoMA PS1 director Klaus Biesenbach, clad in a velour jacket in the foyer of that museum, addressing a few dozen art reporters. Perhaps this was a rhetorical question (no one volunteered a response) but it also serves as a way of approaching the institution’s newest show, unveiled Friday morning: “Greater New York,” a series that pops up at PS1 every five years and has in its last three iterations acted as a CliffNotes guide to what young artists who live in the five boroughs are up to these days.

Except, this time around, the old guard has come along for the ride, too: the list of 150 artists included in the gigantic, ambitious show, which opens to the public on Sunday, has a fair number of established names, some of whom have achieved levels of success that surely would have barred them from “Greater New York” shows in the past.(How does an artist live in New York in 2015? Glenn Ligon lives in a TriBeCa apartment “around the corner from movie stars,” as his text-based work in the show, Housing in New York: A Brief History, 1960-2007, explains.)Lutz Bacher, Magic Mountain, 2015.COURTESY THE ARTIST AND GREENE NAFTALI, NEW YORK/COURTESY MOMA PS1

But even if show-goers are greeted by the work of 72-year-old David Hammons outside, and a piece by the 62-year-old James Nares upon entering, there are plenty of standout offerings from young artists, including the glowing metropolis of e-cigarettes constructed by Ajay Kurian (age 30), the randy figurative sculpture of Elizabeth Jaeger (age 27), and the playful market prankings of Cameron Rowland (age 27).

After the press conference, we caught up quickly with Peter Eleey, the PS1 associate director who led the curatorial team, to speak about the new tack for “Greater New York.”ARTnews: How do you think the inclusion of older artists and older works of art has made “Greater New York” more effective, in terms of its original aims?Peter Eleey: The show was conceived of as a show that would survey a broad base of creative practice in New York City, an emergent portrait of New York and the creative community over the last five years. Particularly in the last five years, it’s felt like older artists—or, let’s say, history in general—has entered the present in a way that, to us, felt hard to exclude. Younger artists kept talking to us about it, we kept seeing it in the way they wanted to contextualize their works. In a way, it was thinking from the present that allowed us to get to the past.I know that you’ve discussed how you would have done past ‘Greater New York’ exhibitions differently. I believe you had some complaints regarding the 2005 edition in particular. And then, when I was walking upstairs, I saw a work titled Lesser New York [by Fia Backstrom].Ha, yes that’s right.It was purposefully rejected from that “Greater New York” in 2005…Yes it was!And now, here it is, in the institution instead of fighting it. Is that commentary on how this “Greater New York” is different from past iterations? It just struck me as funny, that you would go and put it in after its original exclusion.When you go through the show, there are certain moments that touch on histories of both inclusion and exclusion in the institution’s past. There’s a number of artists who appeared in the “Rooms” exhibition that Alanna Heiss organized to inaugurate this institution. With [Lesser New York], we wanted to engage the recent past, not just a deeper history, and that was a way to do that.The show coincides with the announcement that admission to PS1 is going to be free for all New Yorkers, which is quite amazing.It really is.Is there some aspect of this show that is trying to speak to the kinds of New Yorkers who wouldn’t usually come to MoMA PS1 if there were a high price to get in? With the free admission, do you see any sort of populist mission here? We always want a broader audience than we have. Every place I’ve worked has strived to achieve that. I think for us, part of the decision around trying to make admission free for people across the five boroughs was another way that we can expand that sort of access. We’re privileged to be an outer-borough institution because we get a different kind of audience. That includes the tourism audience, for sure, and while we’re very glad about that, it also very much includes people from the artist communities in North Brooklyn and even Long Island City.Do you think these new kinds of visitors will be affected by this show in particular?Yes, to the extent that we have occasions to reflect on a version of the city that’s bigger than the art world, it’s always nice for us to take that. When I organized that show about 9/11 four years ago, I was doing something similar, and expanding the kinds of stories that might reach different sorts of audiences.

Copyright 2015, ARTnews Ltd, 40 W 25th Street, 6th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10010. All rights reserved.


Photo Essays

MoMA PS1’s Citywide Survey Shows New York’s Greats (and Not-so-Greats)

David Hammons's "African American Flag" (1990) flies in the courtyard of MOMA PS1. (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

Every five years the Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 team up to take the pulse of New York City’s contemporary art scene, filling the latter institution with works made recently by artists based in the metropolitan area. The fourth edition of this quinquennial exhibition, Greater New York — which opens to the public on Sunday — diverts palpably from the formula, mixing works by younger artists with pieces by older and deceased artists. Eighties babies are well-represented — including Kevin Beasley, Liene Bosquê, Sara Cwynar, Jamian Juliano-Villani, Ajay Kurian, Eric Mack, and Stewart Uoo — as are the dearly departed: an entire room is devoted to Alvin Baltrop’s photographs of the Hudson River piers in the 1980s; a half-dozen of Scott Burton‘s rarely-seen sculptural furniture objects are on view; and visionary architect Lebbeus Woods‘s designs and drawings command a corner room on the third floor. The exhibition’s film program includes News from Home (1976) by the just-deceased auteur Chantal Akerman.

Eric Mack, "Pain After Heat" (2014)

Co-curators Peter Eleey, Douglas Crimp, Thomas J. Lax, and Mia Locks settled on 158 artists and collectives, their selections spanning every imaginable medium and style, but some popular tropes and tactics bubble to the surface. Documentary projects are prevalent, and provide a welcome antidote to a less welcome but equally ubiquitous contingent — paintings that are trying very hard to look like no thought or work was put into making them. In addition to Baltrop’s incredible images of the piers collapsing into the Hudson, Greater New York includes 57 photos from Henry Flynt‘s 1979 series documenting Jean-Michel Basquiat’s “SAMO©” tags around Lower Manhattan, and Deana Lawson‘s appropriated photo series “Mohawk Correctional Facility: Jasmine & Family” (2013), which tracks the growth of a young family through the snapshots taken by prison workers whenever the incarcerated patriarch’s wife and kids visited him.

Thought not rooted in photography, Glenn Ligon‘s “Housing in New York: A Brief History, 1960–2007” (2007), a set of silkscreens chronicling the artist’s real estate pitfalls, takes up many of the same issues of gentrification, discrimination, and inequality. In the adjacent gallery, a group of fantastic images spanning 1976 to 2008, by street photographer Rosalind Fox Solomon, make a perfect companion piece to Ligon’s history project.

Installation view of works by Nancy Shaver

Another popular formal trope is the collection: pieces that consist of large numbers of similar objects, assortments of disparate and seemingly unrelated things, or actual spring and fall fashion collections. Greater New York features installations showcasing clothes and accessories designed by the collectives Eckhaus Latta, Slow and Steady Wins the Race, and renaissance woman Susan Cianciolo. In one gallery, Nancy Shaver‘s colorful collections of found objects and baubles are installed alongside Sara Cwynar‘s photographic assemblages of matching found images — snapshots of the Acropolis, reproductions of Piet Mondrian paintings, etc. Liene Bosquê‘s tabletop sculptural installation, “Recollection” (2000–15), is an urban grid made up of hundreds of souvenir architectural miniatures, a kind of kitsch update of Rem Koolhaas’s “The City of the Captive Globe” (1972). The most literal manifestation of the collection trend, however, comes from KIOSK, a collective founded by husband-and-wife duo Marco Romeny and Alisa Grifo. Their installation, titled simply “KIOSK” (2005–15), features objects of all sorts that were gathered by the duo and several dozen contributors from all over the globe installed in translucent shelves that have turned an entire gallery into a delightful maze full of odd trinkets tucked into nooks and corners. Like the exhibition in miniature, it includes both delightful tchotchkes and uninteresting trinkets.

These recurring motifs, along with some very strong video works by Loretta Fahrenholz, Charles Atlas, and others, plus a vast gallery devoted entirely to large figurative sculptures, provide some of Greater New York‘s strongest moments. To be sure, there are plenty of duds here, too — like Gregory Edwards, Robert Bordo, John Finneran, Collier Schorr, and Yoshiaki Mochizuki, to name some names. But there’s also more than enough work, both new and old, to refute the claims of any jaded artists that New York’s days as a great art city are over.

Three untitled paintings by Gregory Edwards in the lobby of MoMA PS1

An installation and objects by Slow and Steady Wins the Race (left) and a painting by Seth Price (right)

Detail of fierce pussy's installation "For the Record" (2010/15)

Sondra Perry, "Lineage for a Multiple-Monitor Workstation: Number One" (2015)

Lutz Bacher, "Magic Mountain" (2015)

Clothing and accessory designs by Susan Cianciolo

Robert Kushner's "Samba Class" (1982, left) and "Torrid Dreams" (1983)

Works from Collier Schorr's "Jordan Installation"

Park McArthur, "Posey Restraint" (2014) blocks a doorway on MoMA PS1's second floor.

Henry Flynt's 1979 photo series documenting Jean-Michel Basquiat's "SAMO©" tags around New York City

The art collective KIOSK's archive installation (2005–15) takes up an entire gallery on MoMA PS1's second floor.

A large gallery devoted entirely to large figurative sculptures, including Elizabeth Jaeger's "Maybe We Die So the Love Doesn't Have to" (2015, right)

Raul de Nieves, "Day(Ves) of Wonder" (2007–14)

Ignacio Gonzalez-Lang, "Queens" (2009)

Charles Atlas, "Here She Is from the Waning of Justice" (2015)

Choreographer Jen Rosenblit and her dancers rehearsing her performance piece "Clap Hands" beneath a large formica piece by Louise Lawler.

Fashion designs by Eckhaus Latta

Collage installation by Mary Beth Edelson

Detail of Mary Beth Edelson's installation, with collage images of Louise Bourgeois, Yoko Ono, Ana Mendieta, and other women artists

Mira Dancy wall painting "Broadway & Canal // Mystique Boutique" (2015, left) and painting "Body Clock" (2015, right)

Liene Bosquê, "Recollection" (2000–15)

Sculptures by Amy Brener and photos by Nick Relph

Lionel Maunz's "Parasite" (2015) in MoMA PS1's boiler room

A print by Seth Price in a stairwell at MoMA PS1

Greater New York runs October 11, 2015–March 7, 2016 at MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, Queens).

Mike Kelley’s New York Superman


New York – Mike Kelley at Hauser and Wirth Through October 24th, 2015

September 19th, 2015

Mike Kelley, Kandor 10B (2011), via Art Observed
Mike Kelley, Kandor 10B (2011), via Art Observed

Mike Kelley’s Kandor series ranks among the artist’s more enigmatic projects: a series of sculptures, videos and installation work that works the origin mythologies of the Superman comics into the fabric of the artist’s own life and work.  The works are equally desolate and comical, peculiar and commanding in their execution, often rendered in glowing hues of purple, red and yellow, or countered by immense chunks of sculpted detritus, recreating the titular hero’s Fortress of Solitude.

Mike Kelley, City 5 (2007-09), via Art Observed
Mike Kelley, City 5 (2007-09), via Art Observed

These works make up the first show of the fall season at Hauser and Wirth’s Chelsea flagship, a powerful summary of one of Kelley’s last projects that offers a distinct perspective on his intertwined interests in pop mythologies, psychoanalytic tropes, and their intersection with the artist’s own life.  “It represents a flip of autobiography into a sort of mythology” Paul Schimmel noted at the press preview, an event that also marked the gallery’s first exhibition of the artist’s work.

Mike Kelley, Kandor 4 (detail) (2007), via Art Observed
Mike Kelley, Kandor 4 (detail) (2007), via Art Observed

Kandor, Superman’s home city and the capital of the planet Krypton, exists in the comic’s universe as a miniature, stolen back from the hero’s nemesis and preserved in a jar in his arctic hideout, a memento that stands as both a testament to his own identity apart from the human race, and his failures to save his planet from destruction when he was a child.  Recreated here, Kelley’s Kandors are a recurring formal container, explored as a rocky landscape, geometric cluster, or any number of variations that mirror the changes in artistic direction in the past century of the comic’s history.  Surrounding these works with sculpture, video and lenticular, wall-mounted works, Kelley’s fascination with the shrunken city seems to hint at a distinct interest in the parallels of heroism and dysfunction that seems to sit at the core of so much of his work.

Mike Kelley, Kandor 4 (detail) (2007), via Art Observed
Mike Kelley, Kandor 4 (detail) (2007), via Art Observed

At the center of the exhibition, however, is the massive Fortress of Solitude, turned from its frequent depiction as a glittering palace to resemble a bombed out cluster of stone and piping.  Viewers can climb inside its craggy facade to view one of the Kandor sculptures inside, giving its soft purple glow all the more affect given its stark surroundings.

Mike Kelley, Kandor 10B (detail) (2011), via Art Observed
Mike Kelley, Kandor 10B (detail) (2011), via Art Observed

Taken as a whole, the work presents a look deep into Kelley’s perception of his own work, where the core ideal seems locked away, preserved as an inspirational force in the face of the herculean efforts of his vocation.  Taken in the wake of the artist’s suicide in 2012, the exhibition is a harrowing investigation of Kelley’s interests in the psychological undertones of cultural touchstones, and the tragedy of his final years.

The exhibition is on view through October 24th.

Mike Kelley, Kandor 2B (2011), via Art Observed
Mike Kelley, Kandor 2B (2011), via Art Observed

Mike Kelley, Lenticular, via Art Observed
A Mike Kelley Lenticular, via Art Observed

– See more at:



Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Mike Kelley’s Final, Superman-Inspired Works Land In Chelsea

Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude), 2011.© Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts / Licensed by VAGA New York

One unexpected thing I witnessed during the opening of the New York art world’s fall season this week was Paul Schimmel—whom the Los Angeles Times once described as having “a more impressive record of exhibitions and acquisitions in the field of art” than any other American curator since 1950—taking some time to art historicize Brainiac, nemesis of Superman. This happened at a preview of an exhibition at Hauser & Wirth, the gallery where Schimmel is a partner. The show focused on work from Mike Kelley’s “Kandor” series, which the artist labored over fairly obsessively from 1999 up until taking his own life in 2012.

Kandor is the capital city of Krypton, Superman’s home planet. Krypton was destroyed by its own unstable core. Superman survived when his doomed parents sent him to Earth. Kandor itself survived the planet’s destruction because Brainiac shrunk the city to a size that would fit inside a glass bottle and stole it, which probably isn’t worth getting into any further here. Superman recovered the shrunken city, and placed it under a bell jar with its own atmosphere inside his secret sanctuary, the Fortress of Solitude, where, in the words of a 2010 artist statement by Kelley, “it functions as a constant reminder of [Superman’s] past and as a metaphor for his alienated relationship to the planet he now occupies.” That this description could serve as a broad thesis statement of Kelley’s mercurial career—and, in a sense, to the creative mind in general—is not lost on me.Hauser & Wirth’s current Chelsea location, on West 18th Street (they’re moving to West 22nd Street in 2018), is a big and cold building, and it resembles a hangar. In fact, to call it a Fortress of Solitude would not be a wholly inaccurate description, though that is also a touch too cute. Schimmel was standing in a darkened room inside this building in front of a large group that included a representative sample of many of the employed (and a lot of the unemployed) art writers currently based in New York. Everyone stood among a cluster of Kelley’s resin sculptures of Kandor in various forms (the design of the city, as Kelley points out in his artist statement, was never standardized, even in the comics). The sculptures are all of cities, but they resemble different clusters of sterilized sex toys—most of them phallic, some of them vaginal, they are materially uniform, and there are no details in the forms, just clusters of shapes. They were resting on pedestals, each eerily glowing on illuminated bases that vaguely lit up the room. Schimmel was talking.“Brainiac,” he said, “who I never thought I’d ever talk about in an art-historical framework, was trying to steal cities all throughout the universe. Remarkable. In a way, Brainiac was a stealer of cultures. And in some respects Superman himself had to partake in that moral dilemma of sort of taking and holding.” He stretched this to the matter at hand: “And Mike was like that with the history of art. He felt maybe like Picasso in that he could just sort of take it all in—whether it’s references to Flavin, or Clyfford Still, or Roy Lichtenstein, or to the original source material. Mike, at this extraordinary period in his life, had all these resources together.”Other art-historical reference points Schimmel raised when talking about this work were Mondrian, Constructivism, Surrealism, Joseph Cornell, and Matisse. He was a real trooper, though, about the nature of the work, always bringing his talk, in an endearingly clunky way, back to the comics. Gesturing to a green “Kandor” sculpture with stalagmite-like towers, Schimmel said, “You don’t really think about the kinds of meaning these lights and colors represent. This,” he motioned to the sculpture, “which is so beautiful, kind of like the Emerald City, is also the color of the very mineral, of the very source of Superman’s weakness! Kryptonite, which glows green, is in a sense the most beautiful, and also the most deadly.” And here again, driving the point home: “I think that says a lot about Mike and his relationship to signs and symbols. And his own moral dilemmas.”Since Kelley’s death, the “Kandor” series has been exhibited more frequently than the artist’s other, more iconic work, like Deodorized Central Mass with Satellites (1991)—little clouds of sewn-together stuffed animals that emit the smell of disinfectant—and the remarkable video-heavy series, “Day Is Done,” which includes nightmarish recreations of images from high-school yearbooks. It is “Kandor” that has been revisited as a kind of period at the end of Kelley’s sentence. “Kandor” comprised Kelley’s final gallery show in his lifetime, at Gagosian in London, which garnered a review from the Guardian with the headline “It Came From Planet Bunkum.” Months after his death, a retrospective of the “Kandor” works—many of them now on view at Hauser & Wirth—opened at the Watermill Center in the Hamptons. “Kandor” was given significant real estate in Kelley’s traveling career retrospective, with a stop in New York at MoMA PS1 last year, where the “Kandor” works were installed at the beginning of the exhibition, acting as an introduction. Hauser & Wirth’s size allows for a fairly elaborate installation—including Kelley’s re-creation of the Fortress of Solitude, rendered cave-like rather than blanketed in crystal ice, as it often is portrayed in the comics. Visitors to the gallery can walk into the cave and people of average height can stand up in it comfortably, though one has to wear little white booties to do so, which dampers the installation’s intensity a bit.The room with the cave also includes Kelley’s video Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #36 (Vice Anglais). In the video, a gang of baroque thugs—one of them is dressed something like the Riddler, from the Batman comics, another is a more colorful Alice Cooper, wearing a codpiece—kidnap a bride on her wedding day, take her to the Fortress of Solitude and chain her to a wall in order to sexually humiliate her. It’s difficult to watch, but maybe harder to look away from, like a car wreck.It was funny listening to Schimmel perform his awkward verbal gymnastics, attempting to weave a three-cornered argument that included the whacky DC comic-book universe, Kelley’s artistic practice, and elements of the artist’s autobiography, but looking at the “Kandor” works makes me incredibly sad. This may have something to do with their proximity to Kelley’s suicide, or it might be because I don’t believe the work stacks up to the rest of Kelley’s career. Curators and dealers seem to be pushing for Kandor as a major part of Kelley’s legacy—or maybe the work is just easier to get on loan—but either way I find so much of it to be mediocre. “Kandor” seems to me to be the product of a man endlessly tinkering with an idea but never really getting it to arrive anywhere beyond Kelley’s general metaphor of alienation that I quoted above.In other works, Kelley mined his memory for the depths of this alienation. In Educational Complex (1995), for instance, he created what appears to be a fairly dull maquette of an office building, but the structure is, in fact, a scale model of all the schools Kelley ever attended as well as his childhood home, reconstructed from memory, with various gaps. What begins as a little underwhelming architectural mock-up is actually an exhausting psychological exercise—an artistic return of the repressed. He took this idea even further in his final piece, which he worked on at the same time as “Kandor,” Mobile Homestead (2012)—a replica of the house he grew up in, located on the grounds of the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, not far from the location of the real home, in Westland, Michigan. The house itself serves as a community center. Beneath it is an underground bunker that can only be reached through a complicated network of tunnels and which Kelley, before his death, intended to use as a private studio, literalizing the idea of mining the depths of one’s memory for the sake of art. I would have liked to see the work he would have made there.“Kandor,” on the other hand, is mildly pleasing on an aesthetic level, but cautiously avoids any actual meaning. Kelley at his best offers a glimpse into the mind of someone who never felt like he belonged anywhere, of an artist who is acutely aware of how hard it is to have to wake up everyday and simply exist in the world. I look at “Kandor” and can only think of Kelley working away, trying to distract himself from this very fact, preferring instead to just be left alone forever.

Copyright 2015, ARTnews Ltd, 40 W 25th Street, 6th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10010. All rights reserved.



Enter a Dark Comic Book in the Final Works of Art World Superhero Mike Kelley

img 2997 e1441912267982 Enter a Dark Comic Book in the Final Works of Art World Superhero Mike Kelley

Superman never felt fully at home on Earth. A refugee from the planet Krypton, sent away from his dying planet as an infant, his alien physiology gave him superpowers on Earth but prevented him from relating to its inhabitants.

So, when Superman discovered that the Kryptonian capital, Kandor, was in fact not lost but had been shrunken and bottled by a villainous foe named Brainiac, he rescued the city and its people and stashed it away in his Fortress of Solitude, where it remained a safe but haunting reminder of his past.

City 7, (2007-2009). (Photo: Alanna Martinez)

In the last series works by the late, great Los Angeles contemporary artist Mike Kelley, Kandor is explored extensively, from its varied depictions in the Superman comics to the ways its narrative overlaps and contrasts with Kelley’s own autobiography—which is also filled with bouts of deep loneliness and isolation.

The first appearance of Kandor in Action Comics #242, (1958). (Photo: Via iFanboy)

“Mike Kelley: Kandors” at Hauser & Wirth’s Chelsea gallery space contains just over 20 artworks, including sculptures, illuminated lenticular paintings—in these, images appear and disappear as the viewer moves around the artwork—large-scale installations, and video, some of which were included in his posthumous retrospective at MoMA PS1 in 2013-2014.

In the first room are Kelley’s glowing, jewel-like sculptural variations of Kandor. The works were all created using molds and, while they are editioned works, each version is slightly different depending on the material used to create the surface texture.

Inside the Exploded Fortress of Solitude. (Photo: Hauser & Wirth)

Kandor’s first appearance in the Superman narrative came in the 1958 issue of Action Comics #242, drawn by Al Plastino. It appeared in the comics many times, but was always rendered differently by the various artists who contributed to the series. Kelley’s inspiration for the Kandor sculptures and lenticular paintings were the inconsistencies of the source material, ever-changing representations of the futuristic alien metropolis.

Exploded Fortress of Solitude. (Photo: Hauser & Wirth)

City 17, (2011). (Photo: Hauser & Wirth)

But Kelley was equally interested in the flip side: themes of sex, debauchery, and social disorder appear in the last gallery of the show, with the climactic large-scale installation Exploded Fortress of Solitude, a set based on Superman’s arctic safe space. In the video, a striking departure from the rest of the show, a band of miscreants sexually abuse and beat one another inside a blackened Fortress of Solitude, where a bottled Kandor glows fiery magenta in the background.

Kelley had even bigger plans for Kandors. Originally, he had planned a project in 1999 called Kandor-Con 2000 for the group exhibition “Zeitmenden: Ausblick” at the Kunstmuseum Bonn. His vision was to create crowd-sourced versions of the city based on fans’ input via the internet, to build digital and physical versions to show at the museum, and even hold a convention for the fans at the opening.

Kelley committed suicide in 2012.

“Mike Kelley” is open through October 24 and Hauser & Wirth New York, 511 West 18th Street.






Review: Mike Kelley Uncorks Superman’s Kandor City in a Bottle

The artist Mike Kelley produced more than 100 sculptural variations on the motif of Kandor, the capital of Superman’s home planet, Krypton. Thirty of them are on display in a new exhibit at Hauser & Wirth. Credit Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times


During his last decade, Mike Kelley (1954-2012), one of the most influential artists of his generation, devoted an extraordinary amount of time and effort to a theme from Superman comics: the city of Kandor, capital of Superman’s home planet, Krypton. Before Krypton was destroyed by a chain reaction in its radioactive core, the space archvillain Brainiac shrank Kandor and put it and its live inhabitants into a bottle. Years later, the grown-up Superman wrested the bottled city away from Brainiac. Unable to restore Kandor to its original size, he kept it in his Arctic Fortress of Solitude, along with all his other memorabilia.

Mr. Kelley produced more than 100 sculptural variations on the motif of Kandor. They typically consisted of renderings of a futuristic city in colored resin covered by bell jars, which were connected by hoses to gas tanks or air compressors. (Because Earth’s atmosphere was toxic for the people in the bottle, a constant supply of Kryptonian air was required.) Illuminated by internal and ambient lights and presented on various platforms and pedestals, the Kandor works are materially sumptuous and metaphorically tantalizing.


The 2011 installation “Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude),” which has never been shown in the United States, is paired with a video, “Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #36 (Vice Anglais).” Credit All Rights Reserved, Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts/Licensed by VAGA, New York NY, Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

Why was Mr. Kelley so preoccupied by this story? A captivating exhibition of 30 Kandor works from 2007 to 2011 at Hauser & Wirth offers some answers and a few clues for speculative interpretation. Called, simply, “Mike Kelley,” the exhibition delivers a mordantly misanthropic vision of contemporary life with terrific theatrical élan.

The show begins with an installation in a dark room of eight Kandors cast in jellylike hues made to glow by lights built into their pedestals. Next comes a multipart piece called “Kandor 4,” which consists of a large, clear glass bottle connected to a big, red air compressor; three city models cast in red, yellow and blue urethane; and a video projected onto the wall showing a bottle with swirling colored gases inside. Nearby is a set of Kandor images lifted from comic books and made into back-lighted, lenticular panels in which the city appears and disappears depending on your viewing angle.

Then you come to the most impressive and revealing part of the show, an expansive 2011 installation titled “Kandor 10B (Exploded Fortress of Solitude),” which has never been shown in the United States. It’s paired with a video, “Extracurricular Activity Projective Reconstruction #36 (Vice Anglais),” depicting the darkly comical, sadomasochistic activities of some fancifully costumed people within and around the “Exploded Fortress.” (“Vice Anglais” refers to erotic flagellation.)

Some background is helpful. In the late 1990s, Mr. Kelley wanted to produce an event to be called “Kandor-Con” as part of a group exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Bonn in Germany in 1999-2000. He intended to create a website by which to connect with Superman fans from around the world, and he planned to have as many as possible come to the museum for a conference like Comic-Con. In a 2010 essay, he wrote, “I wanted to draw a comparison between the bell jar and the Net, presenting the Net surfer as a lonely, disembodied individual.” For financial reasons, that project never came to fruition, but had it succeeded, he wrote, “ ‘Kandor-Con 2000’ would then truly have functioned as a real celebration and meeting place for like-minded people.” Whatever else they’re about, the Kandor works have centrally to do with loneliness and isolation.


In his essay, Mr. Kelley claimed that he had no personal interest in the Superman mythos, which seems contradictory. It’s hard to believe that he didn’t in some ways identify with that Man of Steel. Because of his superhuman powers, Superman leads a split and lonely life. Among regular people, he disguises himself as an ordinary, ineffectual fellow. He has friends but none who know him deeply. As his true, superself, he’s even more isolated. When not preventing catastrophes, he keeps to himself in his Arctic retreat. As for Mr. Kelley, while he was an artist of nearly superhuman productivity and inventiveness, he was severely depressed, a virulently isolating condition that led him to take his own life. (In a video from 1999 not in this show, Mr. Kelley had an actor playing Superman reading passages from Sylvia Plath’s novel, “The Bell Jar.” Considering that Ms. Plath also committed suicide, that’s chillingly prophetic in retrospect.)

Mr. Kelley’s “Exploded Fortress of Solitude” is unlike Superman’s icy palace. All black inside and out, the “Fortress of Solitude” is a life-size bunker built of plastic foam carved and molded to resemble a construction of concrete blocks, stones and solidified lava. Some parts are cut away and scattered about the gallery, but the primary structure remains intact, and viewers can enter its dark, cavernous interior. Here you find one of the show’s most fully realized Kandor sculptures: a glowing, pink city of simplified modernist buildings on a powder-blue base, all under a bell jar over three feet tall. At the end of the cavern, a rough niche whose surface is covered by glittering pieces of costume jewelry alludes to treasures often discovered in mythic caves and in psychoanalytic spelunking.

A video projected on a nearby gallery wall was inspired by a high school yearbook photograph of a scene from an unidentifiable theatrical production. Mr. Kelley’s film projects what might have lurked in the repressed unconscious of that innocent image: a subterranean theater of lust and perversity, which he set within and around the “Exploded Fortress.” During the video’s 24 minutes, a menacing man in a green top hat and paisley dress repeatedly threatens to use an ear of corn to anally rape an anxious clown in a football uniform. A Sadean libertine administers a bloody whipping to the bared buttocks of a woman in a wedding dress, and, in an especially illuminating scene, he kneels to contemplate the glowing, bell-jar-covered Kandor inside the “Fortress.” Here, a personification of Dionysian excess draws close to a vision of Apollonian order, yet remains separated from it by its glass container.

In effect, that moment asks, How do we reconcile our capacities for high-minded idealism on the one hand, and our impulses for cruelty, disorder and destruction on the other? That Mr. Kelley offered no way to integrate those opposites is a large part of what makes his art so unsettlingly, pessimistically provocative. That he could not — or would not — envision a middle ground, a place where ordinary, messy life might flourish with all its complications and contradictions, was his tragedy.

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