International Art

Picasso

November 24, 2011
Pablo Picasso, The Young Painter, oil on canvas, 1972. Musée Picasso.

Despite his long residence in France, Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) always considered himself Spanish. To ignore this is to misunderstand the driving impulses behind so much of his work, as revealed in the landmark exhibition, Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National de Picasso, Paris. We see the how powerful that Spanish aspect was, both for a … More


Hypokulturemia in the Hypo-Kulturstiftung

November 18, 2011
Leonhard Beck, Portrait of a Young Man with a Hat, ca. 1512/13

In Munich last week I began to feel I was suffering from Stendhal Syndrome. It’s been twenty years since I was in this city, but I had vivid memories of those two great museums, the Alte Pinakothek and Neue Pinakothek. Now those galleries have been joined by the Pinakothek der Moderne and the Brandhorst Museum, … More


Sculpture by the Sea 2011

November 12, 2011
Simon McGrath, Who left the tap running?, Sculpture By The Sea, Bondi 2011

To see what Sculpture by the Sea is really all about, one needs to go on a weekend, when the walk between Bondi and Tamarama is teeming with people. For most exhibitions this is the worst scenario for viewing works, but with SXS the open-air setting means that no piece is ever rendered inaccessible. The … More


German idols

November 5, 2011
mgb11_ai_wei_wei_16_portrait_LIGHTHOCH

In Germany, Ai Weiwei is the new Joseph Beuys. I arrived at this conclusion in Berlin, after seeing an exhibition of film footage of Joseph Beuys in Japan, at the Hamburger Bahnhof; and a show of 220 photos by Ai Weiwei, at the Martin-Gropius Bau. I’ve been in Deutschland for a conference on the Chinese … More


Art and Seoul

October 20, 2011
Flags

Regular readers must be starting to wonder in what part of the world they’ll find themselves from week to week. I’m starting to wonder myself. Recently I was in Seoul for the 10th Korean International Art Fair, today I’m on a plane coming back from Shanghai. Without wanting to sound glib, the very fact that … More


White Rabbit: Beyond the Frame

October 8, 2011
Ai Weiwei, Oil Spill, 2006

Back again is Ai Weiwei’s Oil spill (2007) – a series of shiny black porcelain discs that sit flat on the floor, mimicking drops of black gold. In typical fashion, Ai Weiwei takes a substance associated with toxic pollution and transforms it into an aesthetic delicacy. Such ironic turnarounds and dislocations are characteristic of his … More


The Steins Collect

September 24, 2011
Henri Matisse, Blue Nude Memory of Biskra

“There are two geniuses in art today,” Gertrude Stein told Picasso, “you in painting, and I in literature.” Whatever posterity has made of Gertrude Stein’s literary efforts, her self-confidence has rarely been surpassed. For the most part, her cryptic, repetitive prose style ensured that her books found few readers. The outstanding exception was The Autobiography … More


Abstraction

September 17, 2011
Aida Tomescu, Welt II, 2005, mixed media and collage on paper

Among the unsolicited art emails that appear in my mail-box every week, one recent posting came from the Martos Gallery in New York, who were holding an exhibition called We Regret to Inform You There is Currently No Space or Place for Abstract Painting. The image that came with the email showed this sentence written … More


The Mad Square

September 3, 2011
Rudolph Schlichter, Tingel tangel

It happens from time to time that I fail to distinguish a cabaret from a crematorium – Joseph Roth From its traumatic birth, at the end of World War One, the Weimar Republic was an unstable experiment. The historian, Eric Hobsbawm charts its rise and fall in an introductory essay for the catalogue of The … More


Vienna: Art & Design

August 31, 2011
Egon Schiele, Self-portrait with hands on chest

In that period known as the Belle Époque, from the end of the nineteenth century to the outbreak of the First World War, Europe went through a prodigious burst of creativity. Modernity had arrived in full force, and no centre, with the obvious exception of Paris, was more dynamic than Vienna. Both cities were melting … More