Loretta Lux, Girl with Marbles (detail), 2005

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June 15, 2005

Each June, Basel lights up with contemporary art as dealers, artists, collectors, and curators descend on the Swiss metropolis. Art Basel leads the way, of course, and its Art Statement section zeros in on new art. The LISTE fair follows suit with young galleries, such as MOGADISHNI from Copenhagen, presenting young artists. Also, premiering this year is the VOLTAshow, where Loretta Lux (this issue's one to watch and artist behind the cover) stands out from the pack. While focusing on Switzerland, we pick up one of its most famous exports, the typeface Helvetica, and then go on the road to review a mix of media from Berlin to San Francisco.

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Still Life Artist Heads Turner Prize Shortlist
(BBC, June 2)
London bookmakers have proclaimed still life painter Gillian Carnegie the odds-on favorite to win Britain's coveted Turner Prize following publication of the award shortlist. Carnegie, who works in "conventional" genres, is a surprise inclusion as Turner judges have generally focused on conceptual artists. The other shortlisted artists are Darren Almond, Jim Lambie, and Simon Starling. The always controversial Turner shortlist has received mixed reviews from the British press.

Graffiti Artists Converge for Toronto Festival
(NOW, June 2)
As Toronto authorities continue to crack down on graffiti, local urban arts organization Style in Progress held its second annual ReSurface festival. Events included a daylong bombing session outside the Drake Hotel. A panel discussion with city officials, police, and graffiti artists addressed a new bylaw making the defacement of public surfaces illegal.

Curator Richard Flood Leads Walker Exodus
(Associated Press, June 4)
Richard Flood, deputy director and chief curator of the newly expanded Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, will be leaving his post to become chief curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York. Flood leads an exodus of top officials from the museum, including internationally acclaimed curator Philippe Vergne, who was recently appointed director of the François Pinault Foundation for Contemporary Art and co-curator of the 2006 Whitney Biennial.

Serra Masterpiece Reinvigorates Guggenheim Bilbao
(New York Times, June 7)
Richard Serra's new permanent installation at the Guggenheim Bilbao reinvigorates Frank Gehry's landmark design, which has at times out-muscled the art it houses. The public perception of Serra's giant steel sculptures has changed tremendously since the Tilted Arc scandal. He's redefined his work, and now it is redefining Gehry's architecture. In related news, the Guggenheim has announced that Mexican architect Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos will design its proposed Guadalajara satellite.

Wildenstein inheritance facing liquidation as widow confronts brothers in court more »

Gilbert & George do Venice their way more »

Rediscovered Bacon painting to hang at Scottish museum more »

Legendary Met curator William Lieberman dies at age 82 more »

Renzo Piano redesign for Art Institute of Chicago unveiled more »

Long-lost Taro Okamoto mural found in Mexican junkyard more »

Andy Warhol Foundation cracks down on copyright pirates more »

New York critic Jerry Saltz slams contemporary art auctions in vitriolic exposé more »

Australian museum launches interactive online gallery more »

Hockney leaving "hostile" US in search of smoker-friendly environs more »

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[ Art Statements at the 2005 Art Basel ]


Wade Guyton / Christine Rebet / Jim Drain / Kristina Solomoukha

In the constellation of art fairs, Art Basel is by far the brightest star — not only because it's in its 36th year and continues to attract top artists and galleries but also because the launch of Art Basel Miami Beach was pure brilliance and turned the fair into an international brand, thanks in part to rising star Samuel Keller. Nonetheless, there's still an array of galleries to take in at the original show in Switzerland — and if you want to experience something completely new, Art Statements is a prime destination. Many artists, including Ugo Rondinone and Jorge Pardo, previously made their "statement" here, and for galleries participation often represents a first step toward gaining coveted booth space in the main fair. On the basis that each artist must present original artwork created for Art 36 Basel, this year's jury selected 17 artists from among 218 applications.

Renowned for spotting emerging talent, Galerie Francesca Pia of Bern, Switzerland presents Wade Guyton (US) with an installation of framed "printer drawings" as well as new U-shaped steel sculptures. New York's Greene Naftali Gallery is back at Statements this year with Jim Drain (US), whose collage, silkscreen, knitting, sculpture, and video blur the modernist line between art and craft with an approach borrowed from '60s-era counterculture and punk. Edgy Parisian Galerie Kamel Mennour offers the works of Christine Rebet (France), whose trips into the subconscious are delivered through a sound and video installation, which pulls from her highly personal and surrealist drawings. Galerie Martine Thibault de la Châtre, also from Paris, shows the work of Kristina Solomoukha (Ukraine), whose often humorous approach exaggerates the cultural landscape of prevailing ideologies, drawing from her own Soviet experience and present-day capitalist society. With five artists each from the US and Britain, three from Germany, two from France, and one each from the Ukraine and Denmark, this year's Art Statements sparkles. (MS)

Art 36 Basel is on view at the Messe Basel in Basel, Switzerland, from June 15–20, 2005.

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Izima Kaoru: Koike Eiko wears Gianni Versace
f a projects
Now through June 25

  The works in Japanese photographer Izima Kaoru's ongoing project Landscapes with a Corpse are startlingly lucid realizations of dreamlike images: beautiful fashion models and actresses imagine the "perfect death," posing accordingly for the camera. Brightly colored and fashion-forward, whether staged in a deserted alley, an airport, or a verdant clifftop, each series within the project begins with a photo of a landscape at a distance — gradually drawing closer to reveal a well-dressed, exquisite "corpse." The idea gives a nod to Antonioni's great film Blow-Up, but the lushness of the photos and Kaoru's deadpan titles — such as the four-part piece on exhibit, Koike Eiko wears Gianni Versace — also show a unique, gothic attempt to combine two very different traditions: landscape photography and fashion photography, where Kaoru got his start. (SR)

Fred Tomaselli: Monsters of Paradise
Irish Museum of Modern Art
Now through June 19

  A master of contemporary collage, Fred Tomaselli presents a survey of recent work that's teeming with psychedelia, counter-culture references, and the mysteries of nature. His kaleidoscopic compositions contain materials such as pills, hemp leaves, and insects, alongside painted elements and photographic reproductions of plants and body parts — all embedded in layer upon layer of clear resin. Standout works such as Field Guides merge organic harmony with human chaos, taking the viewer on a drug-glazed journey through the creative experience. Unifying his own personal history with a collective narrative of humankind, Tomaselli juxtaposes the real with the artificial in visually seductive works. (AK)

Peter K. Koch
Kuckei + Kuckei
Now through July 16

  Peter K. Koch's paintings present depth in polygonal abstraction. Layered with shapes that signify destruction and explosion, these canvases are hurtled at the viewer with boldly colored, hard-edged tension, recalling the shapes of sound effects in comic books — POW!, KA-BOOM!, WHAM! A second group of collages pieces together black-and-white photos of architectural elements that careen and glide into geometrically challenged interiors. Like M.C. Escher, Koch plays with the puzzle-minded viewer who may try to find a way to navigate a path, jumping across the surface from disjointed stair to beckoning door. (JK)

Perfect Spaces: Pictures and Films by Oliver Boberg
San Francisco
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Now through June 26

  Oliver Boberg's works plant doubt in the viewer's mind concerning reality. Using photography, he documents nondescript sites located on city outskirts, including underpasses, stairways, and façades. He constructs a scale model that is a composite, an archetype of each subject, which is then shot by a professional photographer. Boberg achieves an uncanny verisimilitude in the final photograph thanks to his attention to details such as weathered concrete and random weed growth. But the photos are eerily devoid of atmosphere, like wax figures that appear to be alive but have no pulse. His video works operate on the same subtle principles. Motion is indicated via snowfall or the flicker of a light, but their canned sensibility ultimately fails a reality check, and the images hover somewhere in the realm of the imagination. (MW)

Jennifer Steinkamp: Rapunzel
New York
Lehmann Maupin
Now through June 24

  Disarmingly pretty, Jennifer Steinkamp's latest installations evoke both the candy-colored splendor of classic Disney cartoons and the floral intricacies of early Renaissance painting. Rapunzel features five enchanting wall-size digital projections, most of which resemble a whirling cascade of pastel-tinted blossoms and vines. Created using a computer program of the artist's own design, several of the pieces run from the gallery's ceiling to just above the floor — the absence of roots accentuates the flowers' connection to the fairy-tale heroine's famously excessive mane. More than a rendering of actual flowers, Steinkamp's work reinvents Medieval tapestry for the modern, digitally animated era. (LG)

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[ Loretta Lux ]

Loretta Lux

If Susan Sontag had it right about photography, Loretta Lux must be an expert at reducing, blowing up, cropping, retouching, doctoring, and tricking out. With an interest in portraiture as insightful as Rineke Dijkstra's, a sensibility for reverie and the macabre that takes cues from Lewis Carroll and Gregory Crewdson, and a Laura Owens-like intuition for color, Lux is a painter's photographer, a photographer's painter, and — simply put — an incisive photographer for the digital age.

One might say that Lux perpetrates photographic mash-ups by taking background images and merging them with portraits on her computer. But this artistic equation is incomplete without Lux's probing eye, sensitive enough to capture the most forlorn of landscapes and children whose innocence we might quickly question. She acutely pins, tucks, and tailors her photographs while still managing to leave them open to interpretation.

Born in Dresden and trained in painting at Munich's Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Lux has created a body of work that has been acquired by collections from Los Angeles to Jerusalem to the Hague, and now, as a comprehensive whole, anthologized into a sumptuous 96-page Aperture monograph. Already armed with such startlingly distinct precision, Lux and her work to come surely will not disappoint. (ML)

Loretta Lux's work is on view at Torch Gallery's booth at the VOLTAshow — The Next Generation Art Fair, which runs from June 14–19, 2005, at the Voltahalle in Basel.

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[ Christian Chapelle ]

Lise Blomberg Andersen / Rebecca Stevenson / Simon Keenleyside / Andreas Schulenburg

Paul Laster interviews Christian Chapelle, the founder of MOGADISHNI in Copenhagen, about the gallery and its participation in LISTE 05.
AK: What's the story behind the leisure club MOGADISHNI?

CC: I opened the gallery in 2001 as a noncommercial space on the fourth floor of a former government tax building. For two years I exhibited experimental projects and gained experience in finding artists and curating exhibitions. In 2003, I commercialized the gallery and moved it to a larger space in an old cardboard factory in Valby, an industrial neighborhood about 5–10 minutes from the center of Copenhagen.

AK: Where did the name originate and how does it represent your identity?

CC: I named it the leisure club MOGADISHNI because in the beginning it was like a leisure club. I preferred the relaxed attitude associated with the name. The name comes from a cartoon that I created in art school. Over the years it has gained a new meaning, so I recently decided to shorten the name to MOGADISHNI. It has become an international gallery, exhibiting high-quality works in a variety of media. MOGADISHNI currently represents 12 artists — seven from Denmark and five from the US, England, Korea, and Sweden.

AK: What is the contemporary art scene like in Copenhagen?

CC: In the past couple of years, new galleries have opened, which is good for the art scene. Unfortunately, there are not many contemporary art collectors in Copenhagen and few independent curators, other than Jacob Fabricius and Lars Bang Larsen. The museums are slow to collect and usually wait until an artist becomes famous, but MOGADISHNI artists are represented in the collections of the National Gallery, ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Arken Museum of Modern Art, and Vejle Kunstmuseum, as well as important public and private collections abroad.

AK: How significant is it to be at LISTE 05, and what is MOGADISHNI exhibiting?

CC: I was very happy that MOGADISHNI was accepted at LISTE this year. It's an important art fair with quality work. I anticipate a lot of interest from curators, writers, and collectors. MOGADISHNI is displaying felt pieces and ceramic works by Andreas Schulenburg, who just graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Nathalie Djurberg screens four animated films, including Florentin, which was recently purchased by the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Julie Nord presents her detailed black-and-white fairy-tale drawings, which are humorously twisted. Finally, Rebecca Stevenson, who is currently having a solo show at MOGADISHNI, offers two new sculptures, one in wax and another in bronze.

LISTE 05 — The Young Art Fair in Basel presents artists under the age of 40, in galleries open for fewer than five years. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the fair takes place in a former brewery from June 14–19, 2005.

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Helvetica: Homage to a Typeface
Edited by Lars Müller
Lars Müller Publishers

"Helvetica is the perfume of the city," says Lars Müller in this stylish guide to a universal typeface. The 50-year-old, Norwegian-born designer and publisher came of age with Helvetica, which was developed by Max Miedinger in Switzerland in 1957. The font enjoyed a heyday in the '60s and '70s, when smart young designers put it to acclaimed graphic use. Today, it's still the lettering choice of creative minds, as seen in Richard Prince's joke paintings and White Cube's lively website. This M�ller's pocket-size book offers an array of logos, maps, street signs, advertisements, political posters, and product designs. Its double pages have perforated seams, which need to be cut for full visual enjoyment — an old trick put to clever use in an interactive age. (PL)

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Cover image
Loretta Lux, Girl with Marbles (detail), 2005
Ilfochrome print
Courtesy Torch Gallery, Amsterdam
© Loretta Lux
All Rights Reserved

Paul Laster
Andrew Maerkle
Shana Nys Dambrot
Shiraz Randeria
Melissa Lo
Nikki Columbus
Jocelyn K. Glei
Mark Mangan

Christopher Elam
Mark Barry

Rachel Cook
Lisa Cooley
Leigh Goldstein
Allison Kave
Jessica Kraft
Christopher Y. Lew
Natasha Madov
Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts
Marlyne Sahakian
Michelle Weinberg

Anjuli Ayer
Sameer Shah

Mailer Design
Jessica Bauer-Greene
Mark Barry

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