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Hong Hao, 10 Years Chinese Contemporary (detail), 2006

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London Calling
October 4-17, 2006

The London art world opens its doors this week for the annual influx of art fairs. The star attraction, the Frieze Art Fair, hosts high-end galleries and leading artists, while the fringe Zoo Art Fair and Scope London challenge the status quo with emerging art. We select highlights from Frieze, including new videos from Mika Rottenberg and Phil Collins, and interview Alexis Hubshman, founder of Scope, about his vision for the fair. The satirical duo Los Super Elegantes, exhibiting at the Zoo Art Fair, catch our fancy, and we look behind the scenes with Johnnie Shand Kydd's candid art-world photos. A short hop from London, Pia Fries debuts new paintings in Madrid, and Lari Pittman brings his spiny symbolism to Berlin.




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Three Artists Awarded "Genius Grants"
(Plain Dealer, September 24)
Three fine artists were among the 25 recipients of this year's $500,000 MacArthur Foundation Fellowships, also known as "genius grants." 2006 Fellow Josiah McElheny is a sculptor working with blown glass; his past projects include the large-scale 2005 chandelier sculpture An End to Modernity. Installation artist Anna Schuleit, who uses flowers, grasses, and music to enliven historic architectural spaces, also received the award. Schuleit's 2003 Bloom filled the hallways of the Massachusetts Mental Health Center with a variety of flowers. Painter Shahzia Sikander was also recognized; her work combines the South Asian art tradition of miniature painting with contemporary flair.

Meier's Rome Museum Called a Flop
(New York Times, September 25)
Starchitect Richard Meier has brought modernism to historic Rome, and apparently, the results are lacking. Meier's Ara Pacis Museum, which opened last week, is the first large-scale civic building to be constructed in the city's center in more than 50 years. New York Times critic Nicolai Ouroussoff wasted no time in calling the project "a flop," arguing that Meier's glass-and-grid creation overlooking the Tiber is as blind to its surroundings as the Fascist-era piazza in which it is situated. "That kind of insensitivity," writes Ouroussoff, "tends to reinforce the cliché that all contemporary architecture is an expression of an architect's self-importance."

Kapoor's "Sky Mirror" Debuts
(BBC News, September 20)
A magnified version of its twin at the Nottingham Playhouse, sculptor Anish Kapoor's dazzling Sky Mirror recently arrived at NYC's Rockefeller Center. The enormous stainless steel disc measures 33 feet across and weighs 23 tons. The mirror will remain at the site for six weeks before moving to another city. The colossal object fits in with the Bombay-born artist's other large-scale works, which include Marsyas, a steel and crimson PVC structure installed in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall, and Cloud Gate, a stainless steel ellipsoid that rests in Chicago's Millennium Park. Kapoor has also been commissioned to create the centerpiece sculpture at a planned memorial garden near New York's Ground Zero to commemorate British victims of the 9/11 attacks.

"Abode of Chaos" Will Stand
(Times, September 15)
Thierry Ehrmann spent $3.2 million turning his house into a shock exhibit by 45 artists, replete with a "blood"-filled swimming pool, the remains of a crashed aircraft, scorched walls, and portraits of Osama bin Laden and Tony Blair. Calling his reworked 17th-century inn in the outskirts of Lyon Demeure du Chaos, Ehrmann, an art collector and founder of the art valuation site artprice.com, said the project was his response to September 11 and recent events in the Middle East. His neighbors, seeing it as an eyesore, attempted to force him to restore the structure to its original form. Ehrmann was subsequently fined $264,000 for not obtaining permission to change the 2.5-acre estate. Last week, however, an appeals court allowed the "Abode of Chaos" to remain in its literally art-damaged state.





"Bull" sculptor sues over copyright more »

Iranian-born video artist wins Gish prize more »

Koolhaas reveals plans for Cornell hall more »

Murakami's art fair draws attention to Japan's art scene more »

Four recovered Klimts up for auction more »

Herzog and de Meuron tapped to design Miami Art Museum more »

Art world still very much a boy's club more »

Organization documents human interaction with nature more »

Kansas City Sculpture Park preps opening more »

Indian contemporary art brings record sales at auction more »

Pritzker Prize jury committee revised more »

A look at Jeremy Blake's "moving paintings" more »

Proposed Chicago transit sculpture stirs controversy more »

Phillips bounces back, thanks to boom more »

Critic Hughes publishes memoir more »

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[ Frieze Art Fair ]


     

Glen Rubsamen / Felix Gmelin / Barney Kulok / Hideaki Kawashima

Founded by the publishers of Frieze magazine, the annual Frieze Art Fair in London, now in its fourth year, cultivates an intellectual outlook even as its commercial success skyrockets. Last year's fair attracted 47,000 visitors and tallied around $63 million in sales. But rather than focus exclusively on commerce, founders Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover promote critical thinking about the fair by commissioning subversive art and organizing highbrow panels.

This year's Frieze Commissions include four conceptual projects addressing the event's physical space. Mike Nelson's labyrinthine installation steers visitors away from the gallery booths and into a darkroom filled with images of the fair's construction. Lara Almarcegui itemizes the materials used to build the booths, and Loris Gréaud presents nano sculptures only visible through microscopes. Off-site, Pablo Bronstein leads a daily bus tour of postmodern architecture in London. For the Artists Cinema, Frieze and LUX commissioned 35mm films from five artists; among them, Miguel Calderón fuses his trash aesthetic with narrative film, Phil Collins records a laughing competition, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul plays with the Thai national anthem. The Frieze Sculpture Park injects 11 sculptures into Regent's Park, including cheeky interventions by Peter Coffin and Sarah Lucas.

Daily Frieze Talks gather high-profile artists and critics to discuss themes of Taste, Performance, Criticality, and Architecture & Atmospherics. Liam Gillick lectures on the commercialization of culture, Marina Abramovic on contemporary performance, and Adrian Piper on criticality in art. French intellectual Jean Baudrillard makes a special appearance, speaking with literary theorist Sylvère Lotringer on "the end of art." Rounding out the events are performances by Sun 0))), Liars, and promotional speaker BARR (Brendan Fowler).

Although Mika Rottenberg, recipient of the new Cartier Prize, shines with a new video piece on longhaired farm girls, other artists get their share of the spotlight in the gallery booths. A total of 140 galleries fill the hall, with over 50 percent from the UK, US, and Germany. New York's Salon 94 premieres a new video from Aïda Ruilova along with Marilyn Minter's infamous porn paintings from the '80s and '90s. Also from New York, Postmasters shows new photographs from Antony Goicolea, and Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery highlights candy-colored paintings by Andrzej Zielinski. Of the many London galleries, Victoria Miro Gallery displays a kinetic light sculpture from Conrad Shawcross, and the Modern Institute/Toby Webster Ltd hands out 1,000 free artworks from Jeremy Deller asking "What Would Neil Young Do?" Galería Pepe Cobo from Madrid shows Gonzalo Puch's new photos, the Breeder from Athens picks drawings by Jannis Varelas, and Copenhagen's Anderson_s Contemporary highlights Olafur Eliasson.

If the Frieze festivities don't keep you busy, Scope London, the Zoo Art Fair, and the new Year_06 Art Projects compete for attention, offering younger galleries and emerging artists waiting to be discovered. (BR)

The Frieze Art Fair takes place from October 12 to 15 in Regent's Park; Scope London from October 12 to 15 in the Old Truman Brewery; the Zoo Art Fair from October 13 to 15 in the London Zoo; and the Year_06 Art Projects from October 12 to 15 in the Mary Ward House. For more information about London events, check out Flavorpill London.



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Rodney McMillian: Odes
Los Angeles

Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects
Now through October 14

  Los Angeles-based artist Rodney McMillian wittily deconstructs American society through his inventive use of painting and sculpture. In this installation, two store-bought Jesus blankets and a scattering of coffin-like cardboard boxes provide context for a semi-abstract latex painting of a dreamy blue sky that commands the gallery's main space. Sold by the foot at income-adjusted prices, Sky implies heaven has a fair price. As thematic counterpoint to the sale of heaven, artist Stephen Westfall performs Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society" speech on video. Johnson's vision of an ecologically and economically balanced US reduces the opposition between social liberalism and conservative Christianity to a quest for heaven in the here or hereafter. (CG)





Tim Davis: My Life in Politics
Chicago

Museum of Contemporary Photography
Now through October 14

  Photographer Tim Davis maps the peculiar landscape of US politics, framing a miscellany of objects, people, places, and situations epitomizing the bizarre amalgamation of conviction and capitalism in today's America. Davis' camera captures cardboard cutouts of glamour politicians JFK, Bill, and Hillary cavorting with entertainment icons Buffy, Austin Powers, and Xena Warrior Princess. Another photo shows a Martin Luther King, Jr.-themed mural proclaiming "One People One Nation One Taco One Destiny" above the tables in a fast food joint. Other found scenarios include a young, combat-clad anarchist slumbering beneath an upside-down American flag and the President cloned on widescreens in electronics retailer Circuit City. In Davis' un-staged images, the land of the free parodies itself. (SK)

A concurrent solo exhibition, Illuminations, is on display at Galerie Edward Mitterand, Geneva, through November 4.





Pia Fries: Plumbago
Madrid

Galería Distrito Cu4tro
Now through October 14

  In 14 new works, former Gerhard Richter student Pia Fries gives her playful paintings an edge by adding abstract black-and-white geometrical shapes and stenciled drawings. In Ohne titel (Dyp 1), angular trapezoids background black petals rendered in the style of 17th-century botanical illustrations. Juxtaposed with warm pastel washes and earthy dashes of sculptural oil paint, the flowers suddenly seem sterile and rigid. Through this contrast of the mechanical with the organic, Fries brings a new intensity to her painting. For Kandinsky, black was devoid of sound; for Fries, black is an amplifier. (MS)





Jeppe Hein: Reflection
Copenhagen

Galleri Nicolai Wallner
Now through October 21

  In his current solo show at Galleri Nicolai Wallner, Danish artist Jeppe Hein presents five new sculptures and installations. Cultivating industrial elegance through the use of neon tubes and glistening silver surfaces, Hein reflects on the deconstruction of spatial relationships between object, spectator, and gallery space. He updates minimalist concepts of "presence" by incorporating interactive features into his works. Changing Neon Sculpture is a Sol LeWitt-like cubic grid-structure with shifting neon light patterns that pause upon the spectator's approach. Disturbing habitual space through a multiplicity of reflections, Spiral Labyrinth both entangles and repels viewers in a maze of polished mirrors. (JR)





Lari Pittman
Berlin

c/o — Atle Gerhardsen
Now through October 22

  Themes of fascination, repression, and rebellion simmer in Los Angeles-based painter Lari Pittman's first solo show at Berlin's c/o — Atle Gerhardsen, which includes large-scale acrylic and aerosol enamel works injected with African and folkloric motifs. Pittman uses color, line, and imagery to evoke uncontainable energy, delivering a sharp critique of European colonial history and cultural politics. In Attendant, a female servant fans a master reclining outside the canvas. Operetta's reggae colors depict masked figures dancing around a prominently displayed egg while a drugged and costumed European male shuffles awkwardly in the background. Courtyard features an intensely green cactus protruding from a webbed, vortex-like pit surrounded by ornate white lamps, tables, and chairs. (CR)



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[ Los Super Elegantes ]



Los Super Elegantes

Warholian pop twosome and global village anthropologists Los Super Elegantes stage imitative performances on late capitalist culture spiced with Latin American irony. Milena Muzquiz (b. Tijuana 1974) and Martiniano Lopez-Crozet (b. Buenos Aires 1968) formed the band in San Francisco in 1995, but transferred to Los Angeles after finding the city a more fertile stomping ground. After two failed mainstream record deals and a growing reputation in the art world, they released their first record, Channelizing Paradise, in 2002. Two years later, they were featured in the Whitney Biennial and created their Slow Dance Club as a commissioned piece for the Frieze Art Fair. Their profile continued to rise that year when Artforum published an in-depth article on the pair, followed by mentions in several style magazines.

The music of Los Super Elegantes is a combination of art punk, easy listening, and mariachi, its lyrics mixing parodic cheesiness and surrealism. With this soundtrack, Los Super Elegantes create a narrative concoction fusing performance, fashion-like photography, and video clips. They have also written plays, the most recent being The Falling Leaves of St. Pierre (2003), a high-fashion allegory, and Tunga's House Bar (2004), an absurdist critique of art guru-ism. Following their 2005 show at Blow de la Barra in London, they next appear in the gallery's stall at the Zoo Art Fair to show photographs and their new video, Nothing Really Matters, a romp through the clichés of Athenian iconography and a synthesis of the hyper-soap opera in which Los Super Elegantes exist. (AP)

The Zoo Art Fair takes place from October 13 to 15 in the London Zoo.



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[ Alexis Hubshman ]


     

Tejal Shah / Sigga Bjorg Sigurdardóttir / Trenton Doyle Hancock / Marcin Cienski

Paul Laster interviews Alexis Hubshman, founder and president of the Scope Art Fair, about the history of the fair and Scope London 2006.
AK: Scope began as a hotel art fair, with dealers showing art in their rooms at the Gershwin Hotel in New York during the 2002 Armory Show. What were your reasons for organizing it?

AH: Early on, it was clear that there was little voice for young, up-and-coming galleries — I mean those galleries that were showing great, emerging artwork, but hadn't had the coverage, connections, or money that was part of an unwritten policy for exhibiting at the larger, more conservative fairs. A hotel provided a low price point, a place to stay, and — now a Scope hallmark — intimacy and a notably relaxed atmosphere alongside site-specific projects and installations. It was the unconventional context that captured my imagination: the opportunity for a young gallery to take over a space, and really make it unique.

AK: Scope continued as a hotel art fair in New York, Miami, London, and Los Angeles until Scope Hamptons 2005, which was held at Hampton Hall in Southampton; then it shed the hotel-based model completely with Scope New York 2006. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a hotel room for the display of art?

AH:  Scope has had galleries with live installations in their hotel rooms such as Daniel Reich's room in Scope New York 2003, where Christian Holstad spent the entire fair knitting a graveyard of skulls and bones — a notion of humanity's demise. David Hunt curated a room where Mark Dean Veca transformed all the furniture, bed covers, lights, everything. These artists made the spaces their own. Beds were removed, furniture upended — it was a re-appropriation of space like I had never seen at more run-of-the-mill art fairs.

As we grew, all the good things that the small, intimate package of a hotel offered became constricting. The hotel was our learning lesson, an incubator and a way of pulling together different ideas and learning from them. Then the incubator exploded; Scope's emerging galleries became well known and needed a larger environment to realize their potential.

AK:  Scope New York 2006 was an exciting event, which garnered positive responses from both critics and collectors. The variety of booths carved out of a 30,000 square-foot former warehouse space that was walking distance from the Armory Show, the interwoven performances, and the colorful special exhibitions gave it a spontaneous nature. Can you talk about the development of that format?

keep reading the interview »


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  Crash
Johnnie Shand Kydd and Tilda Swinton
Damiani

Johnnie Shand Kydd considers himself more of an opportunist than an artist. He came to photography by accident, without any formal training, but his timing could not have been better. While working at a gallery in the early '90s, Shand Kydd began photographing his artist friends at work and play. By luck, his pals turned out to be the artists of the moment, YBAs such as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and Sarah Lucas. In 1997, he was commissioned to photograph the Sensation artists for the catalogue, and Thames & Hudson published Spit Fire, a monograph of his informal snapshots. Now Shand Kydd is back with a volume of rough-and-ready, black-and white photos of artistic royalty, though this time around they're not just Brits. Rachel Feinstein is caught wearing the same shades she sports in a nearby John Currin painting, Jeff Koons signs a fan's blouse while surrounded by autograph seekers, and Maurizio Cattelan vacuums the rug around his sculpture of the pope felled by a meteor. But Shand Kydd hasn't forgotten his old mates; he continues to snap the underbelly of the London art scene with apparent ease. (PL)



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Cover Art
Hong Hao
10 Years Chinese Contemporary, 2006
Digital photo
50 x 85 3/4 in./ 127 x 218 cm
Courtesy Chinese Contemporary, London and Beijing
All Rights Reserved

Editor
Paul Laster

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Jocelyn K. Glei
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Peter Stepek

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Antonio Pasolini
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Carrie Roseland


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Artkrush is a twice-monthly email magazine, featuring current news, people, and events in the international art community. All stories and links are pure editorial, never paid advertisements.

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