“contemporary art”

David LaChapelle: Love after the Flood

If you’re a fan of James Bidgood’s kitsch-erotic imagery, then you’ll love David LaChapelle’s trash-pop. With a dominant streak of fetishism and obsessive neurosis, After the Deluge is a dive head-first into a universe saturated with colour. After the deluge runs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Mons, until 25 February.   Those discovering David LaChapelle for the first time should be aware that some scenes may offend the sensibilities of the uninitiated. With hermaphrodite angels, naked girls straddling giant mushrooms, forewarned is forearmed! Encompassing porn-chic and transgressive visions, if transgender beauties make you squirm and masturbatory fictions provoke a nervous sweat, it might be best to give this particular exhibition a miss. Conversely, maybe it’s the perfect opportunity to explore the buried impulses, neurotic obsessions and wild thoughts that lie in the uncharted waters beyond your comfort zone – if so, the new hang at the Museum of the Fine Arts in Mons devoted to the (very) subversive David LaChapelle, might please you after all… One of the many urban myths in circulation about David LaChapelle, is the rumour that his first picture was of his mother Helga, in a bikini, Martini glass in hand, on a Puerto Rican terrace. If this particular urban myth is to be believed, it would sum up the work the photographer and film director born in Fairfield, Connecticut (1963) well; LaChapelle is the angry child of fashion and advertising. Moving to New York before the age of 20, a job at Studio 54, centre of the New York underground scene, and then – crucially – a meeting with the Pope of Pop art, Andy Warhol, with whom he would go on to collaborate for Interview magazine. David LaChapelle has become the Basquiat of the C-print. A post-modern Jérôme Bosch Despite all this,...

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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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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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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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