Archive for May, 2012

Exhibition | Picasso & Lacroix in Arles

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Within the framework of the ongoing Act V exhibition,
which opened at the beginning of the year:

Act V, Scene 2, The Arles Picassos
Act V, Scene 3, with guest, Christian Lacroix
Musée Réattu, Arles, France
Until 30th December, 2012

The second and third stages of this ambitious and mammoth, year-long exhibition opened last week at the Musée Réattu, the formidable late 15th century, former Grand Priory of the Order of Malta in Arles – the building itself, idiosyncratically, listed as the first item in its own collection. ‘This was where my parents, in the mid-1950s, took me to see my first Picasso exhibition, explains couturier Christian Lacroix – born and based in the city – in the preface to the catalogue, ‘From that day on, I knew that art belonged to life…’, from which, I suppose, one may glean that he felt art shouldn’t be hidden away but rather shown and made accessible to everyone – incidentally, his first perfume, launched in in 1990 was called C’est La Vie — ‘Then came the highlight, the fabulous late Picassos, so very vigorous – and the wave of emotion when we learnt they were to stay in the museum.’ Act V draws upon the whole of the museum’s collections in the run up to next year’s 40th anniversary of Picasso’s 1971 gift of fifty-seven drawings to the Réattu.

While Act V, scene 2 is dedicated to Picasso’s link to Arles, which began with his first visits to the city with Georges Braque, that led to his Arlesienne drawings of 1912 and his revisiting the same themes in 1937, when the work was inspired by the captivating looks and drive of model, photographer and famously, Man Ray’s lover, Lee Miller. On loan from Paris’s Musée Picasso, the artist’s famous 1937 Portrait of Lee Miller en Arlésienne – produced in the same turbulent year as Guernica – is included in the exhibition along with, among many others, his 1923 painting of his mother, Maria Lopez. A large number of archive photographs by leading photographers, including others Robert Doisneau and Willy Ronis, documenting Picasso’s life and in the company of his other muses, Jacqueline Picasso and Françoise Gilot, have been drawn together and are also on show.

Showing concurrently with Act V, Scene 2, Scene 3 casts son of Arles, Christian Lacroix, who, in 2008, exhibited his master patterns for seven of his 2009 couture dresses here, as costume designer. His Molière Best Costume Award-winning, fantastical creations for theatre, opera and the bullfighting ring, are being shown in specially designed, extravagent room sets, within the labyrinthine structure. The 16th century chapel becomes the Comédie Française for the occasion, as the whole cast of Lacroix’s Phèdre takes over the nave, one costume from the production having been made from a patchwork of embroidered jeans, reworked in the style of the 17th century, with a nod to the great master Picasso’s musketeers.

From top
Lucien Clergue, Picasso, Cannes, 1956. Collection Musée Réattu

Christian Lacroix, Costume for Les caprices de Marianne, by Alfred de Musset, directed by Lambert Wilson in 1994 for the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord. Collection Christian Lacroix/Centre national du costume de scène

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Art | Gunter Sachs’ Work & Play

Friday, May 18th, 2012

The Gunter Sachs Collection, Evening Auction
Exhibition: 18th – 22 May
Sale:
22nd May, 2012
Sotheby’s, London, UK

At about this time last year Gunter Sachs pointed a gun at his head, shot and killed himself.
‘Farewell, Gunter Sachs,’ wrote Simon Mills in British GQ magazine, ‘You were the last of the true playboys. You slept with Bardot, your white trousers were tight, your hair was fabulous… and you never worked a single day in your life.’ Sachs, born in 1932, was 78 years old and probably had Alzheimer’s. The renowned German playboy who famously courted then married
Brigitte Bardot – the 2nd of his three wives – in Las Vegas, contrary to the above, took his work as a photographer, documentary film-maker, author and industrialist seriously. Sachs left behind three sons – one from his first marriage, two from his third – and a sizeable collection of modern art, which will shortly go under the hammer at Sotheby’s, London.

While Sachs’ taste in women was narrow – they had to be glamorous and sexy – he was at various times closely associated with Iranian consort Soraya Esfandiary, as well as model Claudia Schiffer – the art he collected, at least in terms of genre, was catholic. The 300 artworks and objects to be sold span surrealism, nouveau realism, pop art, art deco and graffiti. Andy Warhol, César, Arman, Yves Klein, René Magritte, Salvador Dalí, Giacometti, Roy Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann and Allen Jones, are all represented. True to form, however, a good number of the pieces, portray nude or semi-nude women.
The source of Sach’s wealth had been his maternal great-grandfather, Adam Opel, who had founded the German car manufacturing company, but he also inherited money from his father, Willy, when in 1958 Willy, a supplier of parts to the motoring industry – once accused of fraternising closely with senior Nazis, but later redeemed – chose the same method of suicide as his son. That same year, after a car crash, Gunter’s first wife had also died.

Sachs had met Andy Warhol – whose work he introduced to Germany – in the early 60s at St Tropez and the two became life long friends. He opened galleries in Munich and Hamburg in 1971. Referring to his father’s 1972 Warhol show,
Sachs’ eldest son Rolf, in an interview with The Guardian, recalled: ‘Nothing sold. My father was highly embarrassed, and he bought most of the exhibition himself – which was of course the best investment he ever made.’

From top
Andy Warhol
Gunter Sachs, 1972
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas

Richard Avedon
Brigitte Bardot, Hair by Alexandre, Paris Studio,
Photographed in 1959
Gelatin silver print

Tom  Wesselmann
Great American Nude #51, 1963
Oil and collage on canvas, in three parts

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Furniture Design | Hans (The Chair) Wenger

Friday, May 4th, 2012

20th Century Decorative Art & Design Sale
Christie’s, King Street, London, UK
3rd May, 2012

When I first met architect John Pawson around 1987, he had just completed his very memorable Wakaba, Japanese restaurant project, in London. ‘Inside, there is little to detract from the business of eating and conversation’ he wrote later in his eponymously titled monograph, John Pawson, published by Editorial Gustavo Gili in 1992. Except for the extraordinary choice of light, sculptural dining chairs with hand-woven seat, I thought, that were completely unfamiliar to me and which might easily be Japanese. It turned out, however, that the chairs, which feature a steam-bent, gently rounded top-piece that provides freedom of movement and generous comfort, making it suitable for eating as well as for relaxed sitting away from the table, were the Wishbone chair – reportedly, Pawson’s favourite chair – designed by Dane, Hans Wenger in 1949 for Carl Hansen & Son.

‘[Creating] a good chair is a task one is never completely done with,’ Wenger (1914-2007) is quoted as saying and having designed countless chairs in his 60-year career, in which his designs were produced by Fritz Hansen, Johannes Hansen, Carl Hansen & Sons, Getama and PP Møbler – 70-odd designs and variations are currently available at the Danish Design Store – who would have known better.

Son of a shoemaker, Hans Wenger was born in Tønder, Denmark, and finished his apprenticeship as a cabinet-maker at 17. Already experimenting with his own designs, as a twenty-year-old he moved to Copenhagen and studied at the School of Arts and Crafts before starting work as an assistant to architects Erik Møller and Arne Jacobsen, for whose projects he ocassionally designed furniture. Opening his own office in 1943, Wenger brought out his China chair and later Round chair, which the US magazine Interiors featured on its cover, calling it ‘the world’s most beautiful chair’, thus catalpulting the designer to international fame. It became known simply as ‘The Chair’. Still produced by PP Møbler, it was made famous via the Kennedy/Nixon televised debates of 1959 and is one of his most commercially successful chairs for.

‘A chair… should be beautiful from all sides and angles,’ said Wenger and he was absolutely right. Though intended to be functional the best chairs are artworks in themselves and are far more than simply something to sit on. Wenger’s innovation, was to produce free-standing, sculptural chairs that looked good from every point of view and could stand alone without having to be part of a set. The inspiration for some of his designs had come from portraits of Danish merchants sitting in Ming chairs, so my earlier supposition was, geographically at least, not too far out.

Design classics, every one, Wenger’s superbly-crafted chairs have become highly collectable, especially among architects and designers. When I photographed architects Adam and Irenie Cossey and their children a year or so ago, they had just picked up a Wenger chair for ‘a good price’. Adam sat in it for the shot. Similar in feel to his chair, the adjustable chaise (above) in Christie’s 20th Century Decorative Art & Design Sale, yesterday, estimated to sell at £7,000 – 9,000, actually went for a cool £15,000.

Adam, seated on the Hans Wenger purchase, and Irenie Cossey with their children

Hans Wenger chairs from top
CH07 Lounge chair, 1963, produced by Johannes Hansen, laminated wood, with evidence of original orange lacquer beneath later white paint, later leather upholstery applied to the seat pads. Estimate £6,000 – 8,000. Price realised £11,250

JH-540 Valet chair
, 1953, produced by Johannes Hansen, carved teak, brass hinges, storage well of oak and with leather trim. Estimate £5,000 – 7,000. Price realised £6,000

JH-524 Adjustable chaise, 1958, produced by Johannes Hansen, carved oak, stainless steel, flagline and canvas applied metal manufacturer’s label Johannes Hansen. Estimate £7,000 – 9,000. Price realised £15,000

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Stop Press! | Kate Moss Joins NSPCC Iconic Images

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

It was announced this morning that supermodel Kate Moss has donated the above image of herself, photographed by Norwegian photographer Sølve Sundsbø to the sale: Photographs, including the NSPCC Iconic Images, at Bonhams, Knightsbridge, London, UK on 17th May, 2012. Funds raised from the 10 prints on offer will go to the NSPCC’s Rebuilding Childhoods Appeal, which provides therapy for children and young people who have suffered abuse.

See my blog about the sale below

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