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Lee Ufan at Le Corbusier

Listed as UNESCO world heritage, the Couvent de la Tourette, designed in 1953 by Le Corbusier, is hosting, as part of the Biennale de Lyon, the works of Lee Ufan. Minimalism and a sensitive relationship with space… After Versailles in 2014, the artist faces the austerity of the famous Dominican convent. An encounter.   Born in 1936, the Korean artist moved to Japan in 1956 and embarked on studies in Western philosophy. He is one of the main protagonists and theoreticians of the Mono-ha (“School of Things”) movement, emerging in 1968 and exploring the association of untransformed manufactured objects with elements of nature. “We must learn to see all things as they are without objectifying the world by means of representation which is imposed by humans,” he wrote in 1969 in the journal Critique du design. Ever since, Lee Ufan has worked in this fashion, uncompromisingly, relating places and materials, creating constantly renewed dialogues between the made and the non-made. His sculptural approach is reflected by his paintings characterised by coloured markings. For every exhibition, the artist recalls the necessity to work in situ in order to observe and be in tune with the space. In Lyon, Lee Ufan has created a series of installations, some of which hold the particularity of being ephemeral constructions, like his Japanese-paper room set in the middle of concrete pillars.   In this spot invested by a strong architectural gesture, how did you go about making your works dialogue with Le Corbusier? The idea that the artwork is a place of mediation between the inside and the outside has long pre-existed in my work. All my works have thus been thought out in relation to spaces and the relationship between the inside and the outside, perfectly accomplished by Le Corbusier in this impressive piece...

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A giant lobster in the Salon de Mars

Bringing contemporary art into heritage sites… and vice versa. In France, this practice has developed widely since the 1980s. From Jeff Koons to Paul MacCarthy, we retrace a French cultural exception… that gives off a whiff of scandal.   It’s a fact… The integration of recent artworks on heritag sites is far from being a new phenomenon. Over the centuries, monuments have always submitted to the transformations brought by artistic modernity and the sensibilities of individual artists and artisans. But in France, from the second half of the 19th century onwards, a desire to safeguard and protect historic constructions began to somewhat overturn this practice; for the sake of “collective consciousness”, it was deemed necessary to preserve these monuments as witnesses to the past which defines our own history. It was thus timidly that art, as an expression of its times, began turning its attention afresh to heritage buildings, following 1945. The installation in the Cathédrale de Metz, in the 1950s, of the first stained-glass windows by internationally renowned and independent painters, inaugurated a new artistic direction for the French Historic Monuments office. Jacques Villon, Roger Bissière and of course Marc Chagall opened the way for modernity to be assimilated in buildings hitherto synonymous with the past – not without causing debate. What can be noted is that the first orders of this type were mainly stained-glass windows intended for cathedrals and other churches. Next to come were André Masson’s ceiling for the Théâtre de l’Odéon and Marc Chagall’s ceiling for the Opéra Garnier – the leading works to be carried out during the years when André Malraux was France’s culture minister (1959-1969), attesting to his commitment. At a time when examples from overseas still couldn’t be found, contemporary-art commissions for historic monuments were backed up in France by...

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Harumi Klossowska de Rola: “I’m an artisan who’s still learning”

Harumi Klossowska de Rola could easily be the name of a heroine from a novel, with its poetic, dreamlike air… Just like the creations by this artist. As daughter of the painter Balthus and Japanese artist Setsuko Ikeda, Harumi has inherited talent while carving out a path for herself in the universe of jewellery and art objects.   She spent her early years in Rome, in no less than the Villa Médicis, occupying its famous Turkish bedroom, when her father was director of the prestigious institution, from 1961 to 1967. Later, the family left Italy for Switzerland. And from there, she’d go onto London, Los Angeles, with increasingly frequent returns to Switzerland where she ended up settling, immersed in the heart of nature. Indeed, nature is what drives her and underlies her universe that draws inspiration from various sources: antiquity, mythology, feline creatures. Harumi Klossowska de Rola received us in her work smock in a studio close to Paris, where she is preparing her next round of works.   What was your childhood like, with such famous parents? My father directed the Villa Médicis in Rome, where I was lucky enough to grow up. Very early on, I was surrounded by sculptures. The majestic lions that stand around the villa’s entrance left a deep impression on me, for example. I loved stone so much when I was little that I’d go off for hours to look for small pieces, as well as mosaic elements, in the gardens. Turquoise-coloured ones were big finds in my eyes, treasures… I also remember – but this was much later – conversations between my parents, my father coming back from his studio and talking about colours, shades, Renaissance painters like Masaccio. Much later I understood the influence that this had on me. I was...

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Beth Greenacre: A Sharing Journey with David Bowie

AMA is honoured to have talked to Beth Greenacre, the curator of David Bowie’s collection. This interview “gives us an insight into what an incredible mind David had, what a passion he had, and the phenomenal ways in which he saw the world”.   What is your background? I graduated from Courtauld in London in 1997 and started working as David Bowie’s curator in 2000. In 2005, I launched Rokeby which is a commercial contemporary gallery based in London working with emerging and mid-career artists. During all this time, I have worked with other private collectors as well, predominantly in the Modern British and Contemporary field.   How did you first meet David Bowie? And how did you start to work with him? David had started his collecting in mid-1990s. I first met David in 1999 through his previous curator, Kate Chertavian. She left the position in 2000.   How many collectors have you worked with so far during your career? What kind of collector would you describe David Bowie as? I have been very selective in working with collectors because of the in-depth and involved relationships I have with them and their collections. I spend a lot of time with them building and maintaining their collections. At the moment I work closely with five clients. David invested in his collection emotionally and intellectually; he completely immersed himself in a phenomenal way. It was almost like his full-time job, although he already had many full-time jobs! He was incredibly inquisitive and academic and did an awful lot of research; he had an amazing library of art books but also visited the artists where he could, spoke with curators, museum directors and visited galleries and institutions. He was definitely a hands-on, all-round collector – he tried to get into the...

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Data: Christopher Wool

Christopher Wool is what one might call a phenomenon; he produces little work, rarely expresses himself and his work began to change hands for tens of millions of dollars at a relatively early stage in his career. We take a look at his 350 million dollar portfolio. Graffiti on a white van; legend has it that Christopher Wool’s famous word paintings were inspired by graffiti on a white van, with the simple words ‘sex luv’. In 2012, 20 years after its creation, Phillips sold the mother of all wall paintings for a hammer price of 3.5 million dollars. Christopher Wool is one of those rare artists to have had various strokes of luck. Born in Boston in 1955, he grew up in Chicago in middle class family. In 1973, at the age of 18, he moved to New York to study art at the New York Studio School under the supervision of Harry Krame and Jack Tworkov, before swiftly abandoning the course to make the most of what the Big Apple had to offer. During the early 80’s he made the most of this newfound freedom by working from time to time in the studio of artist Joel Shapiro. It was during this time that he developed his most popular series; from his famous word paintings and flowers to his patterns and eagles series. A contemporary of Basquiat, he was one of the first artists to integrate graffiti and street art techniques (spray paint, stencils, rollers) into work on canvas. Above all, Wool is an artist who takes an avant-garde approach to painting, whilst everyone else is preoccupied with finding new media. In just 10 years, he has firmly established his position in the market. Star exhibitionist Christopher Wool has already been the subject of numerous exhibitions; no less...

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Noah Horowitz, a New Yorker in Miami

The year 2017 has been a big year for Miami and its artistic community. Not only has the city survived hurricanes, it has also seen two of its museums reopen their doors. Noah Horowitz, Director of the Americas of Art Basel, talks us through his 2017 show. Interview. Noah Horowitz, like many fair directors, is one of the globetrotters on the international art scene. He travels extensively and runs Art Basel’s Miami Beach show from the company’s new offices in Manhattan. Horowitz had a varied background before coming to the world of art fairs with experience as an academic, author and entrepreneur. Born in the suburbs of New York City, he spent nearly a decade in London, where he completed his Ph.D. in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art, and in 2011 published Art of the Deal with Princeton University Press. Following his stint as director of the online-only VIP Art Fair, he breathed new life into the Armory Show, which he ran from 2011 to 2015. In the summer of 2015, he joined the predominantly European Art Basel team, managing business in the Americas and overseeing the Miami Beach show. The 2017 edition is the third fair under his leadership…   The Convention Center where the fair is held is currently undergoing renovation… Indeed. It’s one of the most important aspects of the evolution of the fair up to now. The process, which began last year, is taking place over a three-year period and is set for completion in 2018. While the west lobby and some of the exterior areas are still under construction, the halls where the show actually takes place are now complete. This has given us the opportunity to roll out an entirely new show design for the fair this December. It is...

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