Summer Exhibition in RA

I barely made it to Summer Exhibition in Royal Academy of Arts. It is an annual exhibition since 1769 and this year is was on since June 13th until August 21st. I visited it only yesterday a day before its closure. The exhibition features around a thousand works of contemporary artist, some of them are graduates of Royal Academy, selected by the commute from over 12,000 works. It is a multi media exhibition: you can find photographs, sketches, sculptures, oils, acrylics, watercolours, installations.. Everyone can find something to his taste.

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I am not a true fan of contemporary art but I loved the exhibition! It is the essence of a current state of art. Almost all the artworks are for sale and you can find artworks of both emerging and established artists there. Prices vary from hundreds to hundred thousands pounds. Some works are also available in editions and they are less expensive than the originals. As I visited the exhibition towards the end it is difficult for me to say how fast the artworks were sold out. When I visited I was prepared to go home with a new piece of art but all the artworks I liked were sold already.. So next year I will not make the same mistake and will try to be one of the first visitors! However, visiting in the last few days also has its advantages – tickets are half prices, as well as catalogues. So if you are not planning art shopping it is more budget friendly to wait until the last day.

Now my thoughts about art, it is an art blog after all. I will repeat myself – I loved it! So many different techniques, and subject matters. Some artworks were serious and deep, some ironic and witty. It is amazing how many everyday things were turned into art – aluminium hangers were covered into a dear sculpture, metal bottle caps, toilet seat and even a bread slice!

Even thought there were many artworks that I admired, some of them were still way too “contemporary” for my taste. I did not like the room with a lot of nudity and vulgar content. From my point of view some artworks were tasteless and too primitive.

I would like to mention some works individually.

I liked a 3D wall sculpture by Cathy de Monchaux “Migration”. It is a large artwork – 70 cm high and two meters long and is made of copper wires and bandages. Ii is an extremely detailed artwork showing migrating horses in the woods. It is very deep and it “consumes” the viewer due to its depth and large scale. The price for this artwork is £35,000.

Jimmy Cauty presented a large (183cm high) installation “The Aftermath Dislocation Principle Part 3: The Bridge”. It is a shipping container with installation inside. On each sides there are many holes on different nights through which you can see the installation. I was stuck to this artwork for quite some time as I wanted to look through every hole. Each hole gives you different angle and different elements of the crash. The figures inside are very detailed and the setting seems very real. For those who are interested you can read more about this work on the artist’s website, this work is a part of a bigger artwork which shows the whole city. Here is the video of how the container was placed inside the Academy.

Anselm Kiefer, Bose Blumen, Mixed media, 280×570. (Not for sale)

This was a very powerful installation, a tiny bit creepy, but powerful. Large scale installation with 10,00 panels with changing document-style portraits by Turkish artist Kutlug Ataman.

Thousands of screws were used to create this artwork. And it looks amazing close up! It is created by David Mach and is called “Dark Matter”. Dimensions are 224 x 117 x 92 cm and price is £82,000.

And this artwork gave me a head ache… It was very disturbing walking pass this “squashed” head. John Humphreys sculpture “David Noble Tractus”, £47,500.

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It looks like curator has a personal grudge against Clara Sancho-Arroyo as her artwork “Habanero” was placed in the least visible place.. You have to step way back to be able to see it. It is oil on canvas and priced at £2,100.

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Some walls were a little overwhelming and it was challenging to concentrate on artworks individual because there were just so many of them! But I know that the space is limited so this density is unavoidable. All in all I enjoyed the exhibition.. My apologies that my post is published when the exhibition is over. But it is an annual thing, so bare it in mind!

Russian Art at MacDougall’s

Today I visited preview of Russian Art Sale coming up on Wednesday, June 8 in MacDougall’s auction house. This auction is a part of a Russian Art Week in London (3rd to 10th of June): leading auction houses such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonhams conduct specialised sales in Russian Art. A lot of events are happening this week such as art exhibitions, lectures and workshops celebrating Russian culture.

The auction house was packed today and it was nice to hear many conversations discussing artworks in many languages. This time the crowd was extremely diverse, and to be honest, it was a pleasure to see a lot of interest from non-russians.

There were different types of art: paintings, photography, sketches, icons and porcelain figures. Subject matters were also very diverse – landscapes of classical Russian sceneries, portraits, some works had a political themes. Some artists were not very well known, however, there were some artworks by famous Russian artists such as Korovin, Aivazovsky and Lebedev.

The exhibition was over two floors: the layout of the first floor was museum like showcasing artworks individually, lower ground floor was a bit overwhelming with a lot of works.

Overall, it was a very pleasant visit with a lot of beautiful art. Entertaintment-wise there was live music which also created nice atmosphere. The estimated prices greatly varied, so whatever your budget is you can find something suitable.  Enjoy the photos!

 

One painting particularly moved me. It is an oil on canvas “Three Sisters” by Nikolai Bogdanov-Belshy (1868-1945). To be completely honest, I have never came across with his works before, but there was something about it very touching. These sisters look calm and maybe a bit sad at the same time, but there is something about their eyes that made me stop and stand there for a while.

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“Good vs Evil” by Maurizio Cattelan

This is the analysis of Maurizio Catalan artwork and its performance at Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Sale 2013.

Maurizio Cattelan is an Italian artist, who was born in Padova in September 1960. He is famous mostly for his sculptures and installations, but he also works with photographs and acrylics. Maurizio uses a very wide range of materials in his work such as steel, wood, papie mache, glass, stuffed animals, taxidermized animals, skeletons and wax.

Maurizio Cattelan is a commercial artist, who does not consider himself as an artist. In his interview published in 2000[1] he said “I am not an artist. I really don’t consider myself an artist. I make art, but it’s a job.” This statement and idea of art as solely a job may be a part of marketing strategy and image creation. This self-criticism and doubt may be attractive to customers and by buying his art consumers admit the talent of Cattelan and his artistic qualities. The range of different business moves for profit support the idea of artist being commercial, the artist participated in the advertisement, for example the advertisement of Absolute vodka in 1997[2]. He also issued a magazine Together with Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Paola Manfrin called “Permanent Food” (1996 to 2007)[3]. Three years later Maurizio introduces new magazine and manages magazine “Toilet Paper”, bi-annual publication and illustration-based, since 2010[4].

Maurizio Cattelan is placed at a high end of the market and he is well known artist, with strong established reputation. He had travelled with solo exhibitions all over the world and had some works presented in the museums and galleries. The most significant and most recognizable are Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Project 65 at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Gallery, London (1999), the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2003). Maurizio Cattelan also participated in the Venice Biennale (1993, 1997, 1999, and 2002). His works are also a part of important collections throughout the world such as Rubell Family Collection, Miami; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Castello di Rivoli, Turin; the Dakis Joannou Collection, Athens and Fondation Pinault, Paris.[5] The more popular the artist is the more cultural, hence, market value is added to his works. Therefore, the long list of the galleries and museums suggests that the prices for his art are relatively high.

This overview of the artist, his background and key points of his career may help to analyze and understand his position in the market, as well as to determine where in the market fits the chessboard “Good versus Evil”. In this section I am going to outline the structure of the market for Maurizio Cattelan, determine his works’ price range and summarize key points.

The record price for Mauricio Cattlans’ work was achieved in 2010 for untitled sculpture of the man in the hole made from wax. It was sold for hammer price of $7,000,000 (4,710,000 GDP), which was strongly over the estimate of $3,000,000 – 4,000,000 (2,020,000 – 2,700,000 GDP).[6] Maurizio Cattelan has some works that are sold for millions and were underestimate, such as “Not afraid of Love” sculpture, “The Ballad of Trotsky” or “La nona ora”.

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The table above represents the price range of the average data for the hummer price from 2000 to 2012 as steps of 10%. We can see that the half of the lots was sold for less than $51,218, which is relatively low. However, if we are looking at the top end of his works, we can see that 10% of his works were sold somewhere between $550,000 and $7,000,000 which is relatively expensive.

From the chart bellow it can be seen that Maurizio Cattelan accumulates his wealth and if the outliers (such as 7 million sale in 2010) are omitted we have a decline during the economic crisis, but general trend increases overtime. This means that more works are being sold or fewer but at higher prices, and the more art works are distributed the more fame the author gains and hence, the prices may be expected to keep rising. This means that the Cattelans’ works may be considered not only as art but also as investment. The investment might not be bringing return in the very short run, because the prices rise slowly and the market is rather stable, but in 10-20 years it might bring a significant return.

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All the data provided starts from 2000, hence the analysis is limited and it can not be determined when the market started to rise or how the artist was developing his niche in the market before 21st century, in his early career.

In order to determine the main clients of the artist we should analyze the pie-chart bellow of the structure of transactions made by countries. It can be seen clearly that the most interest in Cattelan is showed by USA, where the artist has lived and worked for a long time, UK and native country – Italy. This chart shows that Maurizio Cattelan is a cross border artist, which means that he has more markets to sell his works, hence, it increases his chances to sell the work.

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Another important indicator to look at in this particular case is the proportion of sculptures, photographs and other media category. As we can see from the chart bellow, sculpture is the main media used by the artist. Hence, we can expect the prices for the sculpture to be higher, because the hand of the master is seen more explicitly rather than, for example, in furniture. This pattern can help us in analyzing the performance of the chessboard “Good versus Evil” which was categorized into Ceramic media category.

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This section is devoted to the lot itself. The subject matter is never out of fashion, which is unresolvable battle of good and evil. The fact that the chessboard has two “teams” – good and bad – and the player can choose a side to fight for might be very appealing and attract more attention and interest from bidders. There are 32 figures hand-painted and crafted by renowned Italian ceramicists Bertozzi and Casoni. Two teams have a mixture of fictional, historical and popular characters from all times. The idea behind this mix is to show good and evil forces in a very broad way and question the concept of reality. Adolf Hitler and Cruella De Vil represent black king and queen, whereas on the “good” side Martin Luther King Jr. and the Virgin Mary appear as main figures. For the white side of the chess there are firefighter, Pinocchio, Mother Teresa, Supermen, Gandhi, Che Gevara and others. For the black side of the chess set we can observe the tree from Adam and Eva’s garden they took the forbidden fruit from, Count Dracula, Rasputin, Donatella Versace and others. There are all unique figures except for Sigmund Freud, whose figure appears on the both sides of the game. The variety of characters brings together different potential byers and attracts different social groups. There are also figures of diverse level of recognition, which implies thin note of irony and humor that can be recognized by educated and intelligent people, which makes byers feel special and smart.

There is a set of seven pieces of this chessboard. This one is the 7th edition. There are only two sets that can be followed with resources available (2nd and 7th), further research will be needed to find other editions, however, it might be suggested that they are in hands of private collectors. In order to understand the estimate, that was given to this lot by experts, previous sales of the chessboards should be analyzed. Sotheby’s New York has estimated the second edition at $3500000-45000 (230000-290000 GDP) in the beginning of 2000s, unfortunately, there is no sign neither of successful nor failing. At 2009, in the very beginning of the economic crisis Christie’s New York reduced the estimate to $250000-35000 (170000-220000 GDP) and lot was sold over the high estimate at $4585000 premium (2768000 GDP). Even during the economic instability and overall decline of the market the lot was sold at unexpected rate, which should attract attention and increase interest among the series of chessboards, hence, increase its market value and price.

Another edition that can be followed is the 7th, which is the lot of my choice. The chessboard is dated by year 2003 and before it was sold at the auction for the first time, chessboard had been exhibited in RS&A LTD in London and Perry Rubenstein Gallery, New York, private collection. In 2007 7th edition appears at evening sale in Christie’s London in “Post War and Contemporary art”, estimated at the $240000-320000 (150000-200000 GDP) and sold over the estimate $423000 (264000 GDP). The market was at its hot spot; hence there might be a lot of bidders who push the hummer price up. Considering constant underestimation and recovered market after the recession, the estimates might have been more aggressive at recent Sotheby’s sale in 2013. However, estimates were the same as in previous sale $240000-320000 (150000-200000 GDP). The popularity of the artist has increased recently, which has added market value. Considering all the factors it might be expected to perform better than the last sale at the auction. The fact that the estimated level had remained the same might be explained if there are issues with condition of the work. If the condition is relatively bad with some extreme damage it may bring the price down. However, after reading the condition report of the Sotheby’s electronic catalogue entry it might be concluded that it is not the case, because “This work is in very good condition. Close inspection reveals a small number of minute scratches to the surface of the wooden chess board in a few isolated places.”[7] Minor scratches unlikely to lower the estimated price.

The placement of the work on preview is also important part of marketing plan to sell the work. The chessboard was placed to the right from the main entrance, next to the star lot. It was placed on such an accessible spot to ensure that as many people as possible will see it. This place adds number of people viewing it and hence creates potential buyers.

In regards of the catalogue entry, there were two whole pages devoted to this lot, which indicates its significance and attracts attention. Since it is a day sale, most of the lots have no more than one page and not much written text about the lot. In case with “Good versus Evil” we have high-resolution picture of reasonable size as well as whole page of catalogue note.

It can be seen in the catalogue, that there is an extra payment for intellectual property rights to the artist as well as temporarily import duties. This shows that the work has been imported and the artist is popular across borders and outside EU as well.

Catalogue note is trying to attract bidders by making the work more desirable. This is achieved through different means; one of them is the language that is used in work and artist description. For example use of subjective adjectives and attaching opinions such as “beautifully executed and intricately detailed”, “[Mauricio Cattelan] one of the most eloquent voices in contemporary art”. Another method used in the catalogue note is to intrigue the readers and add more personality to the text by quoting either artist himself or famous people about the artist or his piece of art. In this particular case it is a quote of contemporary artist Diana Kamin, who says that the chessboard is “battlefield to imagine an epic confrontation between the titular forces”.[8]

In order to bring closer the work and the viewer, there is a short description of some characters from the board, written in a funny and ironic manner. Nevertheless, from my point of view, one of the most important ways to “sell” the lot is description of the exhibition of “The Art of Chess” which was devoted to the legendary and fictional or not game between Napoleon Bonaparte and General Henri-Gratien Bertrand. By making the reference to world known people from history this chess set becomes much more desirable than others. Further research may show that the exhibition was hold in RS&A LTD, London to celebrate the art of playing chess, among other famous contemporary artist such as Damien Hirst, Barbara Kruger, Yayoi Kusama, Paul McCarthy and others. This also adds to the cultural value and therefore market value.

Literature list in the catalogue is not very long and consists only from three entries. All of them are publications in the catalogues for the “Art of Chess” exhibition, catalogues are published in London, Moscow and New York. The work is date 2003, hence, the provenance will not be long, however, for a decade it is followed by clear ownership.

Overall performance at the auction was relatively good, but hummer price (140000GDP) was slightly under the estimate, but still above its reserve price. Unfortunately, the number of bidders is unknown, but final price suggests that there were not many and competition was not strong enough, otherwise hummer price would have been higher. Moreover, since it is an edition of 7 chess sets, it might be argued that the work is not unique, hence, lower the price.

There were two works presented at the auction: “Good versus evil” and “Angolo del Ricordi” installation of a glass mailbox with mail in it. The second lot was 10 lots after the chessboard and was bought in. Unsuccessful performance may be due to unappealing subject matter, unsatisfying condition or other factors that need to be researched further.

To conclude with the topic it should be said that I would have expected higher estimate of this lot and much better performance, because of its previous successful sale and high and stable artist’s position in the market. The fact that the chessboard was downgraded from evening sale in 2003 to day sale in 2013, may have affected the performance as well. It might be argued that if the chessboard were presented at evening sale instead of day may have attract more generous bidders and attention from the “higher” end. Also, this work is not typical for Maurizio Cattelan, so that may have lowered the price as well, because people pay for the brand as well as art, hence, they want it to be recognizable. From my point of view this is a good investment, because I would expect the prices on this artists’ work to increase over time. Moreover, it is a very attractive piece to possess, because not only it is art, but also a chess that has history and meaning behind it.

 

Bibliography:

[1] Phaidon Press Limited, published in 2000, ISBAN 0714838667, Untitled, catalogue of Maurizio Cattalan work

[2] Internet source, Absolutad, http://www.absolutad.com/absolut_lists/ads/pictures/?id=1364&_s=ads

[3] Internet source, Cattelans’ Books, available on http://www.postmedia.net/cattelan/publisher.htm

[4] “Toilet Paper”, internet resource http://www.toiletpapermagazine.org

[5] Internet source, ArtSalrsIndex, available at http://artsalesindex.artinfo.com/asi/search/Maurizio_Cattelan/artistProfile.ai?artistID=30148

[6] Internet source ArtPrice available at http://web.artprice.com/artist/149247/maurizio-cattelan/lots/past?idcurrencyzone=2&iso3=GBP&l=en&p=1&sort=price_desc&unite_to=in

[7[ Condition report, available on http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2013/contemporary-art-day-auction-l13023/lot.320.html

[8] Sotheby’s catalogue sale, day sale of “Contemporary Art sale” , 2013

[9] Artnet and Artprice were used for indices and graphs, as well as estimates and performance of 2nd edition of the chess set.

Bear Witness

Sotheby’s Auction House on New Bond Street in London welcomed guests on 6th of March at BearWitness Preview. The preview was devoted to upcoming sale of lifelong art collection of some anonymous wealthy individual on 11th of March. This preview was different from all the others and here is why.

First of all it is due to unusual hours: the doors were opened from 6pm until midnight. It is rare in London that guests can enjoy drinks and partying until late hours in galleries or auction houses. Secondly, the whole auction house was transformed to accommodate and present the collection. Outside the building there was a giant neon bear above the front door. Inside the building walls were covered with coloured transparent plastic. On the plinth, which is the rightful place of the auctioneer, there was a DJ playing modern tracks and entertaining the public.

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The collection itself is incredibly large with almost 650 lots and that is why the auction will be conducted in 3 sessions. The number of lots surely is amazing, but the variety of medias and styles of artworks is fascinating: sculptures, installations, photographs, prints, paintings, collages, wall sculptures and stuffed animals. There is no single concept behind this collection, but somehow it works. The art reveals variety of subjects, but man loves nudity and bears, that is for sure. The whole room was devoted to bear statues of all sizes.

Overall, very bold, modern and fresh presentation. Sotheby’s even created a hashtag #sothebysbearwitness to cover all social medias. Even though the VIP preview was couple of days ago with acrobats and actors, the room was crowded and people were enjoying themselves.

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London Art Fair of Modern British and Contemporary Art

The London Art Fair of Modern British and contemporary art was held at Business Design Centre from 19th until 24th of January. Frieze Art Fair is the first choice for contemporary art lovers and critics because more prestigious artists and galleries exhibit there. However, it does not mean that the London Art Fair is less interesting.

 The space was like a warehouse, spacious and light. All the gallerys’ booths were spread over three levels. The different colours and textures of the artworks create a vibrant palette. Unlike the majority of other art fairs more galleries were open about their prices and put them on the wall. The London Art Fair was very budget-friendly because the price range was from hundreds to hundreds of thousands. A lot of galleries also offered prints of artworks for those who were not looking to spend much.

 Danielle Arnaud Gallery represented Suki Best’s mixed media artworks. Two were cardboard jigsaws of country houses painted with black ink and varnished. The price for each piece was £1340. It interesting because jigsaws have appeared in the Artissima Art Fair as well, created by the Intalian artist Christian Manuel Zanon.

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Suki Best, £1,340

Pertwee Anderson & Gold represented refreshing and colourful pieces of art. These were basketballs featured as parts of fruits created by Simon Shepherd, who is combining natural and manufactured. Each piece can be purchased for £3500.

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Simon Shepherd, £3,500

Merville Galleries featured a copper dress “Medusa” made by Susie Macmurray. The dress is made from 150 to 200 thousand copper rings and it weights about 300 kilogram. The artist created the chains first and then shaped it in the dress, it took 6 months and 2 assistants to produce this piece.

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“Medusa”, Susie Macmurray, £60,000

 There was largely artworks presented, however, on the top floor you could find furniture departments as well as The New York Times newspaper stand. I had a pleasant overall impression from visiting the Art Fair. If you want to fully decorate your house it can be a good place to start shopping.

Moment of Impact

The exhibition “Moment of Impact” (16th of January – 7th of February) at The Lazarides Gallery next to Oxford Street featurqes the first-ever solo Mark Jenkins’s (b. Virginia, USA, 1970) show in the UK. The artist mostly known for street sculptures and installations has created mixed media statues and three-dimensional canvases, 11 of which are represented in the gallery. His sculptures are deliberately hyper-realistic and have different impacts on the viewer depending on whether they are placed in the formal gallery or on the street. The philosophy of Spanish figurative sculptor Juan Munoz, who was described as the “storyteller”, influences Jenkins’s art. Indeed, each Mark Jenkins’s sculpture has a story and meaning behind it.

The artist wants to highlight the importance of street art as part of the image of a city. The concept goes perfectly with the spirit of the gallery and artworks look natural in the gallery environment. The choice of drinks – beer instead of champagne or wine – on the preview night also contributes to the overall provocative and this cutting edge art.

“Still Life” Hiroshi Sugimoto

Pace Gallery has organized a photo exhibition of Hiroshi Sugimoto, a Japanese photographer (b. 1948 in Tokyo) “Still Life” which is part of Dioramas series, which takes place at 6 Burlington Gardens next to the Royal Academy of Arts.

13 large-scale works, all gelatine silver prints, are displayed to the public in a spacious room in which all the pieces co-exist and complement each other. Even though the space is large, it fills with visitors quickly.

Photographs of dioramas found in natural history museums, the images play with the viewer’s perception of reality as well as photography’s supposed objectivity. As Sugimoto reveals on his own website: “Upon first arriving in New York in 1974, I did the tourist thing. Eventually I visited the Natural History Museum, where I made a curious discovery: the stuffed animals positioned before painted backdrops looked utterly fake, yet by taking a quick peek with one eye closed, all perspective vanished, and suddenly they looked very real. I’d found a way to see the world as a camera does. However fake the subject, once photographed, it’s as good as real.”

The central piece “Olympic Rain Forest” is an extremely large (185.4 cm x 477.5 cm) photograph of a forest, which Sugimoto had to print in 4 sections. The 1st edition of 5 was sold for $400,000 before the opening of the show; however, if someone is interested in buying one, another edition can be imported upon request.

“Olympic Rain Forest”, 2012, 185.4x477.5 cm, 2/5

“Olympic Rain Forest”, 2012, 185.4×477.5 cm, 2/5

“Birds of South Georgia”, 2012, 119.4x185.4 cm, 1/5

“Birds of South Georgia”, 2012, 119.4×185.4 cm, 1/5

“Galapagos”, 1980, 199.4x210.8 cm, 1/5

“Galapagos”, 1980, 199.4×210.8 cm, 1/5

The large size of the works allows the viewer to plunge into nature and almost breathe in the fresh air. Nature is seen very fragile and create an atmosphere of harmony. It is fascinating how a setting from a museum can look so natural and alive.

“Pennsylvanian Bay”, 1980, 199.4x210.8 cm, 1/5

“Pennsylvanian Bay”, 1980, 199.4×210.8 cm, 1/5

Unlike Ansel Adams, who also creates bold black and white photographs of nature, Sugimoto’s photographs look like if they were paintings, the lines are blurred and you can almost see the brushstrokes.

Close-up of “Pennsylvanian Bay”, 1980, 199.4x210.8 cm, 1/5

Close-up of “Pennsylvanian Bay”, 1980, 199.4×210.8 cm, 1/5

Close-up of “Birds of the Alps”, 2012, 119.4x171.5 cm, 1/5

Close-up of “Birds of the Alps”, 2012, 119.4×171.5 cm, 1/5

All the photos are black and white, which allows you to concentrate on the landscapes and wildlife rather then be distracted by the bright colours.

Visitors are absorbed in the exhibition and discussing photographs’ composition, tones and perspective.

Visitors in front of “Wapiti”, 1980, 119.4x210.8 cm, 1/5

Visitors in front of “Wapiti”, 1980, 119.4×210.8 cm, 1/5

The photographs are pleasant to look at, bring an air of calm to the viewer. Personally, I enjoyed the show and will return to see it again. It gave me a moment of peace in a dynamic everyday life.

More academic version of review is also available at ArtWorldNow.

Artissima 2014

Artissima is held at the Oval, an architecturally innovative pavilion with 20,000 m² of naturally lit space made for the Winter Olympic Games of Turin 2006.

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Smaller than both London’s Frieze and Paris’s Fiac, Turin-based international contemporary art fair, Artissima, takes place from 7-9 November. Hosting a wide range of media, the venue is quite industrial, flooded with natural light, has ample corridor space and plenty of sitting areas for visitors to relax in and engage with the works on display.

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Scratches on the walls and floor fall into the experimental spirit of the fair and add to the art experience. Also, as a dog owner, I notice that dogs of all sizes are allowed in, which helps create a rather relaxed atmosphere rather than a strictly commercial one. The gallerists are very friendly and eager to talk to visitors, even those who are not interested in purchasing art. There are many international galleries and prices range from a thousand to hundreds of thousands of euros.

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Hiwa k, My Father’s colour phasesPromoteogallery

Milanese Prometeogallery presents Hiwa K’s installation My Father’s colour phases, which draws inspiration from K’s pre colour TV childhood whereby the artist’s father attached colourful squares to a television screen. In this case, K uses thin cellophane sheets. This childhood memory is priced at €45,000.

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Jon Rafman. Galerie Balice Herling

Among works of the Parisian Galerie Balice Hertling, Jon Rafman’s blue-tinged sculpture introduces a rather cutting-edge twist to modern sculpture. Rafman often uses photopolymer and metallic pigments. Made with a 3D printer, the piece sold for €18,000.

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Botto and Bruno, Paesaggio in divenire IIIGalleri Aberto Peola

Turin-based Galleria Alberto Peola displays three works by artist duo Botto and Bruno. Depicting a soulless industrial city lacking human presence, the collages incorporate ink and pencil in addition to photography. Each piece can be purchased for around €5,000.

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Luigi Minolfi, Tobacco TondoGalleria Paola Verrengia

Galleria Paola Verrengia from Salerno, presents a solo exhibition of Arte Povera artist Luigi Mainolfi, who uses simple materials that can be traced back to nature. This 160cm in diameter Tobacco Tondo is made of terracotta and its patterns are similar to those found in tobacco leaves. The price for it is not so “povera” – €60,000.

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Angiola Gatti, UntitledCar Drde

Car Drde presents local artist Angiola Gatti, who describes her pen on paper work Untitled as “a tension between clarity and profusion.” This large-scale piece is selling for €9,000.

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Apparatus 22, Buy me a Mystery. Kilobase

Bucharest’s Kilobase presents Buy me a Mystery, an installation made of neon, fur and a bed headboard by Apparatus 22. The work reflects upon consumerism – the idea that when everything is had and there is nothing more to own, a woman asks her lover to buy her a mystery. This particular mystery can be bought for €11,000.

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Chai Siris, King Kong Eating BananaGalerie Torri

Paris-based Galerie Torri came to the fair with a sound installation by Chai Siris. In his attempt to put people in touch with nature, Siris takes an existing composition (with the consent of the composer) and renames it King Kong Eating Banana by attaching it to a banana tree. The piece was bought a couple of days before the fair’s opening. For €3,500 the buyer got both the audio file and the plant itself. When I asked the gallerist what exactly the artist had done, he replied “the connection.”

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Antoni Starczewski. Galleria Upp

Venetian Galleria Upp offers a cucumber installation by Antoni Starczewski, first created in1973. All cucumbers should be different and for €25,000 one acquires photographs of the original installation as well as a certificate allowing reproduction of the work. Three subsequent editions have made since Starczewski’s death.

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Juan Capistran, The wager of our generation or You are already dead, ask no question. Curro & Poncho

Mexican gallery Curro & Poncho presents the conceptual work of Juan Capistran. The artist attempts to show new ways to spread news – visitors are allowed to take a piece of paper, crumple it and throw it on the ground. This edition of three comes at a price of €8,000 and one can buy the certified PDF along with the right to print up to 2,000 copies. If one wants to loan it to a museum, all the copies must be destroyed before printing new ones.

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Michele Bruna, Obitus. Fondazione CRC 

Not only galleries participate in the art fair, but foundations as well. The Fondazione Cassa di Rispario di Cuneo presents Michele Bruna’s Obitus. Bruna puts paper castings on the ground and then transfers them onto canvas. The soil used for the piece is not for sale yet serves to illustrate the process of creation. The canvases sell for €1,000.

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Christian Manuel Zanon, discrasia diurna: un americano, un italiano e un canton tedescoArtericambi

Amongst artists attending the fair are Verona-based gallery Artericambi‘s Christian Manuel Zanon’s, whose practice combines banal images as part of jigsaws, giving the works a new perspective. Zanon says that he deliberately pairs the works because from a distance, they appear the same, but are in fact different landscapes. He also states that “it’s all a joke and I am trying to make sense of stupid images. It’s American and Italian landscapes crossing.” Although Zanon claims not to be concerned about the price of his work, I was later informed by the gallerist that Zanon’s piece costs €5,000.

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Tom Johnson, White-toothed Ambition: an Invitation to an Empire StateLia Rumma.

Artissima also shows various performances. I met Tom Johnson, who was going to perform with his live bunny in something echoing How to Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (1965), a performance piece by German artist Joseph Beuys. According to Johnson, the performance is “about building something out of nothing and yet caring about that thing.”

Enjoyable, relaxed and with a pleasant atmosphere, Artissima is also a place to innovate and experiment. There is a variety of media and a good mix of art to suit a wide range of budgets. As such, anyone can find something that appeals to them. Even though I found some works a bit too experimental, I was still interested in learning more about them.