“United Kingdom”

Thaddaeus Ropac: “I’m more curious to see what is happening far from us”

It’s no small event… Thaddaeus Ropac is opening a fifth gallery, this time in London. The gallerist here explains his enthusiasm for the British capital, considers the Brexit, and expands on his exhibition policy… A full agenda ahead. The new branch of the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, in London – following the trail of Kamel Mennour who also settled in the city last October –, will be opening to the public on 28 April. The gallery will be located in an 18th century former residence at the heart of the historic Mayfair district. The ground-floor and first-floor spaces of the new venue will be inaugurated with an exhibition of historic photographs and video sculptures by Gilbert & George, a selection of American minimal-art works from the Marzona collection, as well as drawings from the 1950s and 1960s. A sculpture by Joseph Beuys will also be presented, along with a new performance and recent sculptures by Oliver Beer. Explanations follow. You’re opening a new gallery in London next spring. What is the main reason for this choice? Opening in London is in line with the way the gallery is moving forward. We represent many artists, and I think that we’re capable of running several galleries at the same time. It’s very exciting. We can put on more exhibitions and show more art. We’re trying to reach out to an even greater public with the exhibitions that we hold. This follows our gallery’s logic. I’m a staunch European, as I always say. So my principle has been to set up within the European context and of course, England was so much part of this. I didn’t want to go to the United States or China or anywhere else. There aren’t many cities in Europe that have quite as great an impact on the visibility of art...

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Data: Rauschenberg, auctions lagging behind?

Robert Rauschenberg, the rebel; Robert Rauschenberg, the die-hard experimenter. This man who worked in “the gap between art and life” and who contributed to the emergence of the concept of the “visual artist”, would leave his mark on the history of art in the second half of the 20th century. But has the market followed him? Robert Milton Ernest Rauschenberg was born on 22 October 1925 in Port Arthur, in Texas oil country. His parents, fervent Protestants, had limited means. He had a German physician grandfather who fell in love with a Cherokee Indian. At the age of sixteen, young Rauschenberg started studying pharmacy at the University of Texas in Austin. In 1943, he signed up with the US army and joined the Navy Hospital Corps in San Diego, California. Upon his discharge in 1945, he enrolled at the Kansas City Art Institute before setting off for the Académie Julian in Paris. This is where he met Susan Weil, with whom he would have a son. Rauschenberg continued his studies at Black Mountain College (North Carolina), where he met Josef Albers. A stint at New York and the Art Students League, alongside Morris Kantor and Vaclav Vytlacil, gave him the opportunity to meet Knox Martin and Cy Twombly. 1952 marked a turning point in his career. While he was still a student at Black Mountain College, he took part, with John Cage, Merce Cunningham, pianist David Tudor and Jay Watt, in the Untitled Event, also known as Theatre Piece N°.1, often referred to as the first happening by historians. In the same year, he travelled across Europe and North Africa with his lover Cy Twombly. At the start of the 1950s when the United States was under the thrall of abstract expressionism, Robert Rauschenberg had already started to incorporate...

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A new gallery in Deptford, run by Matthew Wood

At the start of November, a gallery replying to the name of “No Format” opened in the Anthology Deptford Foundery in London. The gallery is housed under Arch 29 (Rolt Street) of this project to promote Deptford’s industrial heritage. Matthew Wood, the gallery’s director – but also director of SFSA (Second Floor Studio & Arts), a body which supplies artists and designers with work spaces at affordable prices – will be opening about sixty studios for artists on the site in 2019, reports the East London Lines web site. For its first exhibition, the gallery, wishing to support local creation, is showing artists from London’s southern districts, among them former computer programmer Rachel Ara, whose This Much I’m Worth won the International Aesthetica Art Prize in...

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David Bowie collection: Memphis fever

The sale of the David Bowie collection at Sotheby’s, London, raises an opportunity for us to retrace a major design movment. The musician’s set of furniture items and objects by the Memphis group fetched strikingly high prices at the recent auction. Industrialisation drove Europe into the mechanical era in the 19th century. The call to modernity launched by Italian futurism offered a poetic vision of metropolises, which went against the conventions of Italian art and society at the time. As a result, the notion of ruption and denial of the past in favour of a rush towards modernism would underline 20th century art. Subsequently, 1968 would usher in postmodernity, characterised by intellectual attitudes questioning the boundaries separating the aesthetic from the useful. This was also the way to reach a totalising idea of art. Furniture created over this period conveyed a genuine reform of ways of living. In this respect, we can bear in mind the power of objects over humans: while the post-war years introduced the idea of “beauty serving practicality”, the postmodern age tended towards a complete aestheticisation of the world thanks to polished manufactured objects. Postmodernism initiated reflection on the very status of objects. The questioning of the practical features of design stemmed from the cult of the object, and led to the production of furniture items whose functionality was secondary to its form. Anti-design and radical Italian design adopted this tendency. The 1970s-1980s were marked by the Memphis and Alchymia groups, whose melamine creations were aimed at an elitist clientele. The petrol crisis in 1973 triggered new political, economic and ecological questioning. As a result, production methods were challenged. The economic instability at the time catalysed criticism of consumerist society. In 1966, in Florence, two groups introduced a new way of thinking that sealed the...

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Back from Frieze

Like the exhibitions organised in London, Frieze – a fair drawing international collectors – reaped contrasting reuslts in 2016, though sales were overall positive. A few chosen morsels. At Acquavella, works by artists Franz Kline and Brice Marden found buyers at their asking prices, respectively $9.5 million and $5 million. Hauser & Wirth, which created the fictitious workshop of an imaginary artist, won visitors over with several pieces over the million-dollar mark, signed by Louise Bourgeois, Cy Twombly, Alexander Calder, Francis Picabia… The Pace Gallery is enthusiastic about its many sales, namely in the context of Frieze Masters, even if the public, until now, has come out of curiosity rather than to buy. In this way, on the fair’s opening day, over half a dozen pastels by Lucas Samaras, were snatched up at between $20,000 and $30,000, while at Frieze, Leo Villareal lit up the public with LED light work for $100,000, and works by Prabhavathi Meppayil and Kohei Nawa, sold at between $230,000 and $380,000 for the latter. The gallery, like its counterparts, didn’t seem to be suffering from the Brexit. “There’s even a rather positive effect for the non-British, as we observed with Americans and Asians in particular. At Frieze and Frieze Masters, we obviously meet our usual collectors, who we generally inform before the start of the fair, but this year, we discovered a multitude of new ones!” The gallery Thaddaeus Ropac, which is preparing the opening of an impressive space in London next spring, also met Chinese, Indian and Russian art lovers who never come to Paris, even for fairs, or to Pantin, according to director Xaver von Mentzingen. At this edition, collectors focused on sure names, and acquired works by Robert Rauschenberg, Georg Baselitz, Tony Cragg, Sigmar Polke and Robert Longo. The fair also...

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