Friday, January 24, 2014

The Victor Pinchuk Foundation Opens Application Procedure for the 3rd Edition of the Future Generation Art Prize

Takashi Murakami, Damien Hirst, Victor Pinchuk, Andreas Gursky and Jeff Koons
Takashi Murakami, Damien Hirst, Victor Pinchuk, Andreas Gursky and Jeff Koons
The Victor Pinchuk Foundation and the PinchukArtCentre open the Application Procedure for the third edition of the Future Generation Art Prize 2014. Young artists up to 35 wherever they live and work can apply starting from January 13 till April 12, 2014.
To encourage the artists from all over the world to apply, starting from 2014 the Future Generation Art Prize will accept applications in 10 different languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Ukrainian.
20 shortlisted artists will be announced in June 2014 and will receive an exhibition at the PinchukArtCentre in Kiev, Ukraine from October 2014 to January 2015. The winner will be announced in December 2014.
Launched by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation in 2009, the Prize is open to all artists up to the age of 35 with the aim of acknowledging and giving long-term support to a future generation of artists from all over the world. The Prize is unique because of its global reach and highly democratic form of application via the Internet.
The winner receives a total of $100,000: $60,000 as a cash award, and $40,000 towards the production of new work. An additional $20,000 is allocated to fund artist-in-residency programmes for up to five Special prize-winners.
Traditionally supporting young artists from Ukraine where the PinchukArtCentre is located, the winner of the national prize for young artists in 2013 Zhanna Kadyrova will also be included into the shortlist of the Future Generation Art Prize 2014, bringing the maximum number of artists in the exhibition to 21.
Jury consisting of prominent curators, directors of museums, artists and experts will be publically announced along with names of 20 artists shortlisted for the Future Generation Art Prize in June 2014.
From its launch the Future Generation Art Prize and its idea to develop a network of young artists worldwide has been supported by its Patron Artists including Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Andreas Gursky and Takashi Murakami. Besides providing advice and support for the winning artist, Patron Artists also present a solo show in the PinchukArtCentre parallel to the exhibition of shortlisted artists for the Prize. In 2010 and 2012 there were solo shows by Takashi Murakami and Damien Hirst.
A distinguished international Board oversees the Future Generation Art Prize. In addition to chairman Victor Pinchuk and the four Patron Artists, the Board’s membership includes Eli Broad, Dakis Joannou, Elton John, Miuccia Prada and art museum directors Richard Armstrong (Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum), Glenn D. Lowry (The Museum of Modern Art), and Alfred Pacquement (Musée nationale d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou).
Starting from the first edition the Future Generation Art Prize attracted more than 10 000 applicants from more than 134 countries from all five continents.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A pint and some fine guitars at the Emmett Ray with Peter Boyd

via Instagram

The Myth of the Tortured Artist

Photo by ULF ANDERSEN/Getty
Within the art world, it’s a profanity to mention earning money and making fine art in the same breath. It shouldn’t be.
No one blinked an eye when John Malkovich stooped to do Transformers 2. Jimi Hendrix’s reputation as a rock god hasn’t suffered for having been a session guitarist for The Isley Brothers. If your child opened a lemonade stand on the sidewalk you’d probably praise his enterprising spirit. So why is it so odious to some in the art world when an artist tries to make a little coin for himself?

Somehow visual art never divorced itself from its romantic attraction to the tortured genius, which has wound its way from Byron to Blake to Bacon—and into Bushwick. This genealogy has birthed a modern myth of artist-as-shaman, devoting his life selflessly to a singular vision, trading worldly compensation for the creative fugue.

And it happens that shaman do a far better job of securing the value of culturally sacred objects than yeomen craftspersons or trust-fund babies.

“Is there an enterprise other than serial killing where those who study it are so satisfied by the squalor and instability of its practitioners?”
My friends and I have a term for art-worlders who believe fine art should be delivered from shamen and should be appreciated for, as the refrain goes, “its own sake.” They are evangelicals. And the evangelicals have been especially irked by the recent sale of a Francis Bacon triptych for an astounding $142 million.

According to New York Times art critic Roberta Smith, such sales “are painful to watch yet impossible to ignore and deeply alienating if you actually love art for its own sake.” When asked if he would ever buy a $140 million work of art, New York magazine critic Jerry Saltz was less measured:
“Auctions make me sick. I can’t stand them. They’re ruining the art world. They change the conversation from art to money, from quality to quantities, and now those quantities are mass quantities. Hey did you ever notice the word tities is in quantities?”
I didn’t get the bit about the “tities” either.

This reaction isn’t particular to the press, who we expect to maintain an elevated posture. Dealers speak about their stable of artists as if they were social workers: supporting and nurturing their artists, helping them realize their visions, providing the context they need to grow creatively. Even those who buy art invoke a higher morality. Mega-collector Mera Rubell admitted to “collecting for the right reasons” in Sarah Thornton’s book Seven Days in the Art World. “The right reasons,” you can be sure, don’t include “for money.”
True, Smith and Saltz are commenting on an especially egregious instance of commodification. Still, by categorically condemning the proximity of money to art they perpetuate the idea that money is in itself impure, inadvertently fueling a mythology that guarantees $140 million paintings.
Artists wanting a legitimate career know better than to speak of earning money and making fine art in the same breath.  Most artists I know are liberal, anti-establishment types, but when the subject of money comes up they become Puritans, denying and repressing every urge to speak in business terms. But really, how impure is the desire to garner professional respect and reap enough cash to pay rent and keep making work? Robert De Niro, who has plenty of artistic legitimacy to spare, is currently starring in a movie called “Grudge Match” with Sylvester Stallone—Hollywood schlock designed to make money. But De Niro gets as many mulligans as he wants on the path to canonization. But if a heavily indebted recent MFA from RISD decided to go commercial, they’d be sent out of town backwards on a donkey.
A few weeks ago in a Bushwick bar frequented by artists a friend told me of an opportunity that had recently come her way. Explaining the details, she held her hand to the side of her mouth and spoke in a hushed manner, as if to prevent others hovering nearby from overhearing. A major home product company asked her to contribute paintings in a display of high-end housewares. The work requested was already complete, produced on her terms, so no intellectual or conceptual was required. The company would pay her well. And she needed the money. But she feared that if word got out she’d be seen as unchaste and thus thought twice about taken a perfectly honest paycheck.
Many in the high art world are unaware of the parallel universe of unrepresented, self-promoting artists that thrives outside its precincts. Tens-of-thousands of these unaffiliated hustlers market their original artwork at dozens of independent art expos around the country. Actress Jane Seymour is a fixture on the expo circuit. Buy one of her editioned prints and you can have a photo with her, which she’ll gladly autograph. It’s a marketing strategy that seems to work well; her booth is always packed. From 100 feet in the air, these expos look the same as those of the art world proper, yet to insiders, these expos with their peddler-artists might as well be gun and knife shows. “It’s commercial product pandering to buyers looking for decoration,” a gallery owner who didn’t want to be named told me. If any self-respecting artist rented a booth at one of these expos unironically, they would pay with their career. To be fair, the work at these fairs is generally decorative, sentimental, and derivative, but being associated with it shouldn’t automatically poison an artist’s reputation anymore than being from Kansas should designate someone as a backward creationist.
It’s interesting to note that Francis Bacon—the artist whose triptych garnered $140 million dollars at Christie’s last month—has his entire rat’s nest of a studio preserved down to the last flattened paint tube and soiled Band Aid in a Dublin Museum. The tortured visionary’s den. And viewers love it. Unfortunately, it’s hardly representative. The typical contemporary artist studio is less eccentric, filled with tools-of-the-trade, bookshelves, glossy art magazines, and memo pads covered with to-do lists. Is there an enterprise other than serial killing where those who study it are so satisfied by the squalor and instability of its practitioners?
The truth is, most artists working in New York City in 2013 have as much professional education as the person who manages your 401K. They take multiple choice tests in schools accredited by teams of traveling bureaucrats with clipboards. They learn art history, theory, and how to present and write about their work. They aren’t visionaries, just creative people, making wonderfully physical--not metaphysical--things that should be admired, indeed purchased, by those who are moved by them.

For those who wish for objects and makers to be more pure, or more transcendent, they might consider joining a church.

The art world, so fiercely liberal and anti-fundamentalist, should do a better job of recognizing when it adopts the spirit and contradictions of the institutions they dismiss. If we want a progressive art world, we’d let the art fall to earth. We’d cease with the sorcery. As the critic Dave Hickey famously said, let art be “frivolous” enough to move us at a terrestrial level. We’d lose our shamen and our religion, perhaps, but art would be healthier. And paradoxically, the money that accumulates around a handful of sacred treasures would disperse more equitably among all the poor lay artists who need it most.
Shane McAdams is a Brooklyn-based writer and artist


Monday, January 20, 2014

Chuck Close Making $1 Million Murals For The Second Avenue Subway

Chuck Close working on a self-portrait (Laura Miller via Facebook).
The never ending Second Avenue Subway project has announced that famous local artist Chuck Close is going to be making a massive series of permanent mosaics for the subway line's 86th Street station. All in all the mosaics will bring about 1,000 square feet of art to the subway—at a cost of roughly $1 million, according to the MTA's Arts for Transit program. Luckily, the station is supposed to have an elevator—so the famously wheelchair-bound artist can see his work in action.
And Close, whose downtown studio would be off the Second Avenue Subway if it ever made it that far, seems genuinely excited about the prospect. He told the Times, "My work has always had a mosaiclike quality to it, so it’s not such a stretch. The idea is to reflect the riding population: old people, young people, people of color, Asians. I’m going to do as many as 12 separate mosaics, mainly from pictures of artists I’ve taken over the years." Each of Close's mosaics will be 10 feet high and will be distributed around the station.
Meanwhile, as DNAinfo points out, Close isn't the only one closing in on the new line. Arts For Transit has a $5 million budget to dress up the Second Avenue stations, and has already announced two other artists working on the project. Sculptor Sarah Sze is set to to install "an intricate work of drawings on ceramic tiles spanning nearly two blocks long at East 96th Street" and artist Jean Shin is making a site-specific work for the station at East 63rd Street that uses archival photos from the NY Historical society and the Transit Museum to reference the old Second Avenue Elevated lines. Still to be announced? An artist for the East 72nd Street station.
Can't wait? Instead of holding your breath we'd recommend playing around on the Arts for Transit permanent art website—because the Second Avenue Subway isn't expected to be open until December 2016. At the earliest.

Art Test

 I did this test when I was 9 or 10. I can't remember how I did.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


by Charles Thomson, co-founder of the Stuckists art group
In 1995, Damien Hirst defended his work with the rationale, "It's very easy to say, 'I could have done that,' after someone's done it. But I did it. You didn't. It didn't exist until I did it."
In 2000, he decided that doing it was not the justification after all: "I don't think the hand of the artist is important on any level, because you're trying to communicate an idea."
In 2006, the idea of the artist was not important on any level either: "Lucky for me, when I went to art school we were a generation where we didn't have any shame about stealing other people's ideas. You call it a tribute".
In 2009, Anthony Haden-Guest interviewed Hirst: "Other artists have attacked you for using their ideas. John LeKay said the skulls were his idea. John Armleder … was doing spot paintings. And some say Walter Robinson did the spin paintings first." Hirst's tribute was: "Fuck 'em all!"
Hirst's career started In 1988 at the Freeze exhibition, when he painted grids of spots with random colours. Thomas Downing, an American, painted grids of spots with repeated colours in the 1960s. Gerhard Richter painted grids of rectangles with random colours in 1966. John Armleder, a Swiss artist, painted spots during the 1970s.
In 1989, Hirst starting making cabinets with bottles on shelves. In 1992, he developed this into a room-size installation, called Pharmacy. Joseph Cornell displayed a cabinet with bottles on shelves, called Pharmacy in 1943.
In 1991, Hirst exhibited a preserved shark in a tank in Charles Saatchi's art gallery in St John's Wood. Eddie Saunders exhibited a preserved shark on a wall in his J.D. Electrical shop in the YBA heartland of Shoreditch in 1989.
In 1992, Hirst moved to New York, where he met John LeKay, a 31 year old British artist, resident in the city since 1981. Hirst was four years younger, a celebrity in the UK, but still only four years out of college and exhibiting in his first show (of twelve British artists) in the United States. LeKay said Hirst "told me one time he was going to conquer America like the Beatles."
LeKay kept a journal. He recalls that Hirst visited his studio on several occasions and showed considerable interest in his work. Hirst was working on "patch paintings", which he abandoned after LeKay told him they were "shit" - "The concept was brush marks on Francis Bacon's studio wall. Looked like his grand mother made them."
They met frequently over the next few months, visiting each other's homes and going to art openings, shows, parties and bars, sharing meals, getting drunk together and playing badminton with a beach ball in the living room. LeKay said Hirst was "a raging alcoholic and cocaine addict. He was always snorting it. Drinking like a fish … He seemed to be really lost at times. If he was not drinking or doing drugs, he seemed to be depressed. I gave him some advice about this one time."
Contributing to Hirst's state of mind was the Turner Prize result in November 1992. LeKay said Hirst was "Angry about it. He seemed shocked he did not win it."
LeKay, raised a Catholic like Hirst and described by Adrian Dannatt in Flash Art as a "strung-out enfant terrible", was a kindred spirit, if not a role model. LeKay recalled: "One time in the taxi going to Ashly Bickerton's house, he said that he thought he was becoming me. Talking and acting like me. It was very strange … I thought he was mentally ill at that point or on coke."
Hirst was sufficiently engaged to edit the sixth - and, as it turned out, final - issue of LeKay's Pig (Politically incorrect geniuses) magazine, enlisting Danny Moynihan, Marcus Harvey and Angus Fairhurst as contributors. He also interviewed LeKay for the catalogue of LeKay's show in 1993 at the Cohen Gallery, managed by Tanya Bonakdar, who had given Hirst his first US solo show.
Hirst mentioned that he was looking for a source of butterflies, and LeKay gave him a spare copy of the Carolina Biological Supply Company Science catalogue, which he had been using as a source of ideas. They reached an agreement, said LeKay: "I put yellow stickers on the pages with the skeletons, skulls, mannequins and resuscitation dolls I was working on. He said he would stick to the animals and I would do the humans and he was very happy."
Another time, LeKay showed Hirst a photo of one of his works, a split-open sheep in a crucified posture. Hirst asked its date and - when told 1986 or 87 - became very quiet. "He got fidgety, bugged in the ride back in the car to the city. Began making odd comments out of context. At the time it made no sense. Then the next morning Tanya called me frantic, telling me he smashed up the kitchen he was staying at. She said, ''what the fuck did you say to him?' "
"I said, 'Nothing. All I did was show him slides of my old work, the meat pieces, to let him know I had done work like he was doing years before him. To me it wasn't a big deal, but to him it was for some reason. If I knew it would have upset him so much, I would never have shown the slides to him.' She said, 'You have no idea how envious he is of you.' "
LeKay's gift of the Carolina Science catalogue manifested as a dramatic development in Hirst's oeuvre within a few months. One of the items illustrated was a model cow bisected lengthways. In the 1993 Venice Bienniale, Hirst exhibited Mother and Child Divided, a cow and a calf bisected lengthways.
In 1995, Hirst started making "spin paintings", the titles of the first four all beginning with the word "beautiful". Spin paintings - made by pouring paint on a revolving surface - appeared in the 1950s as a popular novelty activity and had also been made by artists. Swiss artist, Alfons Schilling, and French artist, Annick Gendron made them in the 1960s. Walter Robinson, an American artist, exhibited them during the 1980s. John LeKay developed his own variant called "pour paintings" - which Hirst saw early in 1993 - by using a table which could tilt and swivel. LeKay says Hirst told him they were "beautiful and sexy".
UK artist, Andy Shaw made spin paintings in 1993 and said that he talked about them to Jay Jopling, who represented him and Hirst, a few months before Hirst began to make his them. Hirst showed some in his 1996 show, No Sense of Absolute Corruption, at the Gagosian Gallery in New York. David Rimanelli in ArtForum said the only difference between Robinson's and Hirst's was that some of Hirst's had motors to make them rotate. LeKay said Hirst had paid particular attention to one of his "pour paintings" that was "hanging on a toilet paper holder of a wall pierced through its centre to make it rotate."
One of Hirst's exhibits in the 1996 Gagosian show was an installation of a ball held aloft in a jet of air. Hans Haacke made an installation of a ball held aloft by a jet of air in 1964. Haacke used a white ball. Hirst used a coloured ball.
Another Hirst exhibit was This Little Piggy Went to Market, a pig split in two lengthways (in vitrines of formaldehyde). One of the pictures in the Carolina Science catalogue given to Hirst by LeKay was an anatomical model of a pig split in two lengthways. In 1984, Debby Davis took a cast of half a pig cut open lengthways and made a fibreglass sculpture, called Visible Pig. It was sold by Doug Milford of the Piezo Electric gallery in January 1986 to Charles Saatchi, and auctioned at Christies, New York, in November 1989.
In 1999, Hirst made Hymn, an enlarged version of an anatomical torso model from Humbrol. One of LeKay's found object works from 1990 was Yin and Yang, an anatomical torso model from Carolina Science.
In 1999, celebrity chef, Marco Pierre White made a picture, Rising Sun, to decorate his restaurant. He said that Hirst copied it a few months later with a work called Butterflies on Mars and, according to White, told him, "I'm the artist and you're the chef so everyone's going to think you've copied me."
In 2003, Hirst made Charity, based on the model of a girl with a collecting box displayed from the 1950s to the 1980s by The Spastics Society (now renamed Scope). In 1993, Kerry Stewart, made The Boy from the Chemist Is Here to See You, based on the Society's model of a boy with a collecting box. Her work was part of Saatchi's Young British Artists shows in the 1990s.
In 2003, Hirst painted Spirit, a dove in the sky with wings aloft. The same image had been painted multiple times and exhibited for the previous four years by Talaat Elshaabiny on the Bayswater Road. It was originally from a 1980s Christmas card.
Hirst exhibited artworks with butterflies in 1991, using whole butterflies scattered on a painted surface. Lori Precious, a Los Angeles artist, started using butterflies in 1992. She fixed the wings contiguously to create the effect of stained glass windows. In 2003, Hirst started fixing butterfly wings contiguously to create the effect of stained glass windows. Precious's work in 2005 was titled with a literary quote from James Joyce. The titles of Hirst's butterfly stained glass works in 2007 incorporated literary quotes from Philip Larkin.
In 1991, True Daisy, a complex design of spiralling spots within a circle by Robert Dixon, a mathematician and computer artist, was published in The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Geometry. In 2003, Hirst contributed a design to The Guardian's colouring book for children. Dixon said Hirst's design was "exactly the same" as his one. Hirst's manager replied it was not copied from Dixon: Hirst had found it in a book called The Penguin Dictionary of Curious and Interesting Geometry.
In 2006, Dixon discovered that Hirst had also used True Daisy, with the spots coloured in, for Valium, an edition of 500 prints produced in 2000.
LeKay's 1986 work of a split-open crucified sheep, which had caused Hirst so much upset, was titled This Is My Body, This Is My Blood. In 2005, Hirst did a split-open crucified sheep, titled In the Name of the Father. LeKay's was on a board. Hirst's was in a tank of formaldehyde.
In 1993, LeKay made paintings based on images of cancer cells from the Carolina Science catalogue. Hirst saw them. In 2007, in Beyond Belief at the White Cube gallery in London, Hirst exhibited paintings based on images of cancer cells from the Science Photo Library.
In 1993, LeKay produced a series of 25 skulls, some made out of paradichlorobenzene and one made from soap covered with Swarovski crystals. Samples had been in the Cohen Gallery. LeKay says he mentioned the idea of a skull covered in diamonds to Bonakdar. In 2007, Hirst made a skull covered in diamonds. LeKay used a title, Spiritus Callidus, a name for the devil. Hirst called his For the Love of God.
In 2009, a year after he had divested himself of his stock of conceptual and minimal art at the famous Sotheby's auction, Hirst announced that conceptual and minimal art were "total dead ends" and that he "always thought painting was the best thing to do".

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Francis Bacon: Painting and the mysterious and continuous struggle with chance


Real painting for Francis Bacon was about a mysterious and continuous struggle with chance.
”Mysterious because the very substance of the paint can make such a direct assault on the nervous system; continuous because the medium is so fluid and subtle that every change that is made loses what is already there in the hope of making a fresh gain.”
Bacon believed when one talked about painting one said nothing of interest, it was all superficial. He believed it was best for a painter not to talk about painting. “If you could talk about it, why paint it?” he once said.
”The important thing for the painter is to paint, and nothing else.
“The most important thing is to look at the painting—to read the poetry, to listen to the music—not in order to understand it, or to know it but feel something.”
Yet, Bacon did talk at length about his paintings and his art. He claimed it was the Irish in him that made him so talkative. Much of what he said was recorded in a series of long interviews conducted with with the art critic, David Sylvester. These were later published as a book, and here in this documentary The LIfe of Francis Bacon they provide an exceptional background to understanding Bacon the artist and the man.
The documentary opens with Bacon’s idea of painting as a means to opening up areas of feeling, rather than merely illustration.
”A picture should be the recreation of an event, rather than an illustration of an object. But there is no tension in the picture unless there is a struggle with the object.
“I would like my pictures to look as if a human being had passed between them like a snail, leaving a trail of the human presence, a memory trace of past events, as the snail leave its slime.”
Bacon wanted to bring the sensation of life, what he termed “the brutality of fact,” directly to the viewer “without the boredom of conveyance.” To achieve this, he claimed he performed acts of violence on the canvas in a bid to make the pictures live. Bacon was a quick worker, turning paintings out in a few hours—compare this with the months Lucien Freud spent on a single canvas.
He took his ideas from everywhere—the colored plates in dentistry books; memories of his Nanny blurred with images of the slaughter on the Odessa Steps from Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin; paintings by Velázquez; his asthma, Bacon’s Popes were gasping for air, not screaming; paintings by Picasso; the sadism of his father; nudes taken by Vogue photographer John Deakin; endless photo-booth self-portraits.
Bacon painted his lovers and friends, and many self-portraits. These self-portraits became more frequent as his friends died,  many destroyed by their “gilded gutter life” of drink and excess.
”Between birth and death it’s always been the same thing, the violence of life. I always think [my paintings] are images of sensation, after all, what is life but sensation? What we feel, what happens, what happens at the moment.
“We are born and we die, and that’s it, there’s nothing else. But in between we give this purposeless existence a meaning by our drives.”
It’s rare to see as many gallery paintings by an artist in one documentary as there are contained in The Life of Francis Bacon, and it’s superbly complimented by the long extracts of Bacon’s interviews, these are read by Derek Jacobi, who memorably played Bacon in the film Love is the Devil.

Thursday, January 9, 2014