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Cultural Concierge:

August 16, 2012

Luxe Art Happenings Around the Globe for Early Fall

Where to get your gallery on this fall

By Nancy Staab

Hirst, Klimt and Lichtenstein are just a few of the diverse exhibitions on tap for fall, plus a controversial art takeover at Versailles Palace

Hirst, Klimt and Lichtenstein are just a few of the diverse exhibitions on tap for fall, plus a controversial art takeover at Versailles Palace














Cy Twombly and The School of Fontainebleau

At the Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, through Oct. 2012

The late abstract artist Cy Twombly might seem like the most modern of artists with his famous scratches and scrawls but  a deep admiration for classical and neo-classical culture underpins his romantic canvases. Though abstract, many bear allegorical and mythological titles (“Leda and the Swan” and “ Empire of Flora”), while others are inscribed with words from the classical lexicon like his Virgil series. Twombly has often cited Nicolas Poussin, that 16th century French painter of classical landscapes and mythological scenes, as his favorite artist. In this audacious show at the very contemporary Hamburger Bahnhof, the curators dare to compare Twombly not to his contemporaries or near-precursors but to Mannerist decorative painters from (gasp) the 16th century!  In particular, the exhibit traces corollaries between the works of “The School of Fontainebleau” headed up by two Mannerist Italian painters Rosso Fiorentino and Francesco Primaticcio, who were commissioned to decorate the Palace of Fontainbleau , the French king’s favorite retreat for hunting expeditions. The two artists were charged with creating and overseeing frescoes, tapestries, sculpture and paintings. The comparison between Twombly and 16th-century French and Italian artists does not come out of left field as Twombly left the NYC studio he shared with Robert Rauschenberg as a young man to relocate to Italy, where he maintained a residence the rest of his life and where he was deeply influenced by the European art tradition. Both the 16th century artists and Twombly benefit from the subtle nuances drawn out by this comparative exhibit.


Gustav Klimt: 150th Anniversary Celebration

The Neue Galerie, NYC, through Aug. 27, 2012

The jewel-box Neue Galerie devoted to early 20th century Austrian and German art and conceived by art collector and makeup magnate Ronald Lauder, is celebrating perhaps Austria’s most renowned painter Gustav Klimt on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his birthday. The Austrian Symbolist painter is best known for his gold-drenched, gold-leaf canvasses inspired by Byzantine icons and created in the first decades of the 20th century during the Art Nouveau period. The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I and the erotic The Kiss have entered the larger cultural canon as some of the most recognizable works of art on the planet. The former painting is part of the current Neue Galerie exhibition alongside other major paintings and drawings from the collection, including his lesser known landscapes. After the exhibit, make your way to the Galerie’s Café Sabarsky and partake of the special Klimt cake or pick up some gold and silver cufflinks designed by  fellow Werner Werkstatte artist Josef Hoffmann for Klimt, and available exclusively in the gift shop.


Damien Hirst

Tate Modern, London, through Sept. 9, 2012

Controversial infant terrible of the British art world, Damien Hirst, is all grown up now and getting his first retrospective at a major London museum. The exhibit spans over 20 years of Hirst’s works, encompassing all his notorious art phases from the taxidermied “sculptures” like the shark suspended in a formaldehyde tank and given pretentious metaphysical titles like “ The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” to his more facile spin art and  factory-produced dot paintings; his pinned butterfly pieces, his vitrines, and his replicas of pharmacy cabinets gleaming with candy-colored pills and capsules. Evet Hirst’s most outrageous piece, a diamond encrusted skull entitled “For the Love of God” (a momento mori or the ultimate luxe object?) is on display. Love him or hate him, the influential Hirst is not to be ignored.

While at the Tate, don’t miss Danish/Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson’s “Little Sun” installation, a project that brings powerful solar-powered light to off-grid areas of the world through Sept. 28. And on Saturday nights, through Aug. 18, the Tate will sponsor Saturday night “black-outs” where works in the museum’s Surrealist galleries can only be viewed by the light of Eliasson’s “Little Suns,” purchased by the viewer for approximately $25.  Also on show “Edward Munch: The Modern Eye” through Oct. 14 that goes well beyond his iconic The Scream canvas. And through Oct. 28 The Tate will host a festival of rotating live art, performances, installation and film works in the new “The Tanks” area, converting raw industrial space (The Tate Modern was converted from an old power station by architects Herzoz & de Meuron) into a riveting backdrop for ephemeral arts



















Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective

The Art Institute of Chicago, through Sept. 3, 2012

Late Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein gets a major art retrospective at The Art Institute of Chicago that not only highlights his dead-pan comic series, painted in primary colors with Benday dots, but also highlights his deeper engagement with the art history tradition from Manet to Picasso. In addition to his signature comic strip series, mostly of bored or exasperated women, the exhibit also includes his more abstract works and landscape works. However, Lichtenstein is best remembered for his Benday style and works that playfully and exuberantly blur the line between high and low art.


Joana Vasconcelos

Palace of Versailles, through Sept. 30, 2012

Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami have commandeered the  palace  and gardens of Versailles for their colorful and oversize art works and now French-born, Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos has her turn with her equally vibrant, large-scale pieces constructed of found objects.  Though the chandelier constructed of tampons was summarily rejected by the palace gatekeepers, a giant patchwork fabric bird suspended from the ceiling, lacy red and black hearts, a pink feathered helicopter and giant stiletto heels constructed of prosaic pots and pans are among the works enlivening the gilded and mirrored spaces of the palace. The program to infiltrate the hallowed spaces of Versailles with wacky contemporary art has not been without controversy but we think both old and new beauty benefit from the contrast, which allows you to look at both with a fresh eye in a new context. Vasconcelos was more than inspired by the setting: “It is the ideal setting for celebrating audacity, experimentation and freedom, where creative talent is appreciated like in no other place.