Christo, the intimate and the monumental

Whilst the urban projects of Christo and Jeanne-Claude are on display at the ING Art Center in Brussels, BRAFA is displaying a piece from the mid-1960s, Three Store Fronts. We look back on the history of this installation and look forward to the birth of the Mastaba project coming soon to Abu Dhabi which will become the largest sculpture in the world.   Born in 1935 in Bulgaria, Christo Vladimiroff Javacheff, known as Christo, worked with his wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude Guillebon Denat, from the end of the 1950s until her death in 2009. Together, they have created many large-scale, on-site installations such as the packaging of the Pont-Neuf in Paris and the Reichstag in Berlin, or more recently the installation of over 7,000 panels of saffron-coloured cloth in Central Park, New York and a floating bridge on Italy’s Lake Iseo. Supporting themselves financially through the sale of preparatory drawings, over the years their achievements led to obtaining permission to execute projects in various cities or regions, with an engineering team making them possible. Within a few years, Abu Dhabi is expected to host the largest sculpture ever orchestrated in the world. In the meantime, this year, BRAFA exhibits a historic piece from Christo, never seen before in Belgium.   At BRAFA you are exhibiting a piece of your work from the 1960s called Three Store Fronts from the series Show Windows and Show Cases. Why did you choose this piece for the fair? To look at its broader historical context, it’s a piece of work from the work I did in Paris. From 1962, I worked on the Show Windows and Show Cases series, which were display cases or old medicine cabinets- and then designed Three Store Fronts for my first personal exhibition, which took place in 1966...

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Respecting the Balance

Like most collectors flocking to BRAFA, Harold t’Kint de Roodenbeke likes the month of January. President of the fair for the sixth consecutive year, he reveals to AMA the key points of the strategy for the Brussels-based fair. Verbatim.   With nearly 25,000 artifacts and works of art, presented by 135 exhibitors, BRAFA is an event not to be missed. Considered one of the top five global art fairs, it takes place in January and is also the fair which sets the pace for the art market. Following the Paris biennale in September, Frieze Masters in October in London and shortly before the Maastricht TEFAF in March, BRAFA is a key date in the diary for all lovers of fine art. A major European event held at the stylish brick and wrought iron Tour & Taxis site, BRAFA signals the return to trading for the year. It is important to keep in mind that on this international stage whilst 30% of traders are Belgian, the bulk of those in attendance come from the other 15 countries represented, from Canada to Japan. The key characteristic of BRAFA is its atmosphere; it has the ambiance of a general, rather classic fair, which has managed to combine a certain old-fashioned spirit with a moment of timely relaxation. With more than 60,000 visitors expected, the fair covers four millennia of art history, spanning 20 different segments, from pre-Hispanic art and design, Golden Age furniture and comic strips, not to mention a trendy tribal art segment, driven by serious experts in the field. Here is the best kind of eclecticism, combined with a median position and consolidated by the amplitude of the price range. The heavily carpeted aisles are lined with the (mainly European) collectors which constitute the fair’s regular clientele, all with smiles...

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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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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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