Olympic Artist-in-Residence Turns on London Games, Auctions Still a Man's World, and More Must-Read Art News

Olympic Artist-in-Residence Turns on London Games, Auctions Still a Man's World, and More Must-Read Art News
Neville Gabie
(Courtesy ODA)

— Olympic Park Artist-in-Residence Slams London Games: Artist Neville Gabie held a residency at London's Olympic Park between September 2010 and January of this year. Now, he has declared that his up-close exposure to the London Olympics led to his disillusionment with the commercialism of the whole thing — so his next piece, titled "The Greatest Possible Distance," involves him taking suggestions via his blog about where he might spend the night of the opening ceremony that would get him farthest from the Olympics, physically and spiritually. "When you're involved close up with something like that you start to worry about the ethos of the Olympics and whether the original spirit of the Games is really reflected in what we have now," he said. "This project is an idea to explore how far away we might have moved from the original spirit of the Games." [Guardian]

— Women Artists Handicapped at Auction: Despite featuring an usually strong male-female ratio of five-to-one, sales figures from this month's post-war and contemporary auction at Christie's in New York confirmed conventional art market gender stereotypes: women artists accounted for less than five percent of the record-setting $388-million total. Still, women's standing in the market is slowly improving, particularly with the ascent of female collectors like Sheikha Mayassa Al Thani, the daughter of the emir of Qatar. "Attitudes are changing generationally," said chairman of post-war and contemporary art development at Christie's Amy Cappellazzo. "There will be some remedial catch up before women artists have parity on prices." [Economist, Art Market Monitor]

— Development Threatens Giotto Frescoes: The construction of a 30-story, €160 million ($204 million) mixed-use condo and office tower in the city of Padua in northern Italy could do irreperable damage to the Scrovegni Chapel just across the Bacchiglione river, which houses towering frescoes by Renaissance master Giotto di Bondone. A public petition signed by thousands of Italians expresses concern that digging the foundations of the Boris Podrecca-designed sckyscraper could result in water damage to the chapel. "Everyone with any knowledge of frescoes is aware that excessive damp can cause them to crumble," said former University of Rome professor of medieval history Chiara Frugoni, "or to peel off the wall to which they are attached." [Telegraph]

— Illegal Taxidermy Artist Gets 20 Months: The Miami-based sculptor Enrique Gomez de Molina, who was arrested by federal authorities for trafficking parts of endangered animals in order to create his popular hybrid taxidermy sculptures, began serving a 20-month jail sentence earlier this month after refusing to heed warnings from the Fish and Wildlife Service. “We sent him a notice. We didn’t charge him,” said Matt Bendele, a special agent from FWS's Miami office. “We said, ‘Here is what the law is, Enrique. We want you to abandon this.’ But he continued to do it.” [Miami Herald]

— Turner’s Little-Known Portraiture: Though best known for his landscape paintings, a previously unseen work by J.M.W. Turner suggests that the original “painter of light” aspired to be a serious portraitist. The 1828 painting “Recumbent Nude Figures,” which will be on public view for the first time during an upcoming Tate Britain exhibition, was begun during Turner’s visit to Rome and never finished. “This portrait will stop people in their tracks,” said Ian Warrell, curator of 18th and 19th century art at Tate Britain, “because it is so completely different to the image of Turner's works that everyone has in their minds.” [Telegraph]

— Boston MFA Receives Major Gift: On Saturday Boston's Museum of Fine Arts announced that it had received a gift of thousands of artworks — worth, according to the museum, likely a "nine figures" sum — from longtime trustee Saundra Lane, including 6,000 photographs, more than two dozen paintings, and 100 works on paper. Included is the entire, 2,500-piece photographic estate of Charles Sheeler, as many photos by Edward Weston, and 500 by Ansel Adams. [Boston Globe]

— Prurient Painting of Prime Minister Proves Popular: A painting of the Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper reclining nude in the style of Titian's "Venus of Urbino" or Manet's "Olympia," has earned Kingston-based painter Margaret Sutherland some unwanted attention. The large-scale painting, which is on view at Kingston's public library, shows the PM in a very revealing pose, and joined on his chaise longue by a small dog, while a member of his cabinet offers him a cup of coffee from ubiquitous Canadian chain Tim Hortons. [CBC]

Brice Marden's Rockstar Looks: A profile of the American painter Brice Marden on the occasion of his recent participation in the Tate Modern's American Artist Lecture Series spends much time fawning over the critically-acclaimed and fervently-collected abstractionist's sex appeal. "As he takes the podium, his trademark black woollen hat tugged down over bitter-chocolate eyes, silvery hair curling over a black jacket and cobalt-blue shirt," writes Rachel Spence, "he exudes Springsteen-like glamour." [Financial Times]

— Former Gas Station Fills Up on Art: South Africa's latest African art center, the Wits Art Museum, opened this weekend in a converted gas station, car dealership, and dental school in Johannesburg's trendy Braamfontein neighborhood. Set alongside the University of the Witwatersrand's campus, the new $5.4-million museum will showcase works from the university 10,000-piece collection, which spans 16th century pottery to works by William Kentridge and Gavin Olivier. [WSJ]

— Public Art Replaced by Dog Droppings: An outdoor installation by sculptor Lynn Bennett-Mackenzie consisting of 200 small wooden houses distributed at 19 locations throughout Scotland's Inverewe Gardens has been stolen and defaced by vandals who removed many of the diminutive houses and left bags of dog waste in their place. "This is a stunning area of the country that has a low rate of crime, and petty vandalism is not common," said Bennett-Mackenzie. "So this is something of a shock and actually a bit upsetting." [Scotsman]


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