February 17, 2005

Andy Warhol, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh

Andy Warhol: Self-Portraits
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
12 February – 2 May 2005

A powerful exhibition of work by Andy Warhol have its only UK showing at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. One of the giants of twentieth-century art, Andy Warhol created some of the most memorable images of the postwar era, transforming publicity photographs of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley into icons of popular culture. Though ‘image’ is at the heart of his work, Andy Warhol: Self-Portraits is, surprisingly, the first museum exhibition to be devoted to the artist’s presentation and manipulation of his own likeness. This eagerly awaited show brings together eighty of Andy Warhol’s self-portraits, from his earliest paintings and drawings in the 1940s, right through to hollow-cheeked images made in 1986, shortly before his death.

Andy Warhol (1928-1987) began his career as a successful commercial artist, working in advertising in the 1950s. He also began to work as an independent ‘fine’ artist, and became a leading figure of American Pop Art, which emerged in New York in the early 1960s. A central concern in his work was the increasing power of the popular media - advertising, film and television - in shaping the way we view the world, and particularly in encouraging the cult of celebrity. He took as his subjects adverts for some of the most ubiquitous American products: Coca Cola, Pepsi, Del Monte tinned fruit, Campbell’s soup. To these he soon added the celebrities of the day: Liz Taylor, Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe. Andy Warhol took some of the best-known photographic images of these people, turned them into silkscreens and made paintings and prints that made them even more famous. One could argue that it was only after Warhol had made his brightly and differently coloured close-ups of Marilyn Monroe’s smiling head, that she became truly an icon of the age.

At the same time that he was exploiting images of people that were already famous, Andy Warhol was also carefully crafting and branding his own image. Andy Warhol was so successful in nurturing the image that the public had of him – cool, deadpan, vacant, enigmatic – that he was soon almost as well known as the stars he painted, and everyone wanted to know what lay behind that shuttered façade. Andy Warhol’s reply was ‘Nothing; what you see is what you get.’ This exhibition try to show how Andy Warhol constructed this façade in all its manifestations – in paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, film, even wallpaper – and in all its technicolour variety. It also suggest one of the things this façade was trying to block out – a fear of death.

The exhibition begins with drawings that Andy Warhol did as a boy growing up in Pittsburgh, and includes drawings from his early years in New York, in the 1950s. There is also a group of paintings from 1963-64 that Andy Warhol made using photographs taken in a photomat booth – fulfilling, quite literally, his desire that making art should be a machine-like process. In 1967 Andy Warhol produced the now classic series of paintings of himself, hand resting on his chin, looking quizzically out at us. These are represented in the exhibition with works borrowed from Switzerland, Germany, France, the USA and Tate in London.

In 1968 Andy Warhol was shot (and nearly killed) by Valerie Solanas, a writer who had appeared in some of his films. The experience deepened the artist’s already obsessive fear of death, which is reflected in his work of the late 1970s and 1980s. The exhibition features a series of paintings, made at this time, which show Andy Warhol ‘playing’ with the concept of death, balancing a skull on his head or shoulder and being ‘strangled’ by the hands of an otherwise unseen assailant. Also included is a room of little-known works from 1981, when Andy Warhol made a remarkable, poignant series of drawings and prints of his profile and its cast shadow. The climax to the show will be a group of self-portraits made in 1986 – the year before he died – which show him with his face lined and gaunt, wearing a fright wig. In these paintings – some of which are covered with camouflage patterns – Warhol stares out as us like a disembodied death’s head, as if he knew what lay ahead for him.

Andy Warhol: Self-Portraits is being mounted in collaboration with the Sprengel Museum, Hanover and the Kunstmuseum in St. Gallen, Switzerland. Works on loan are drawn from major international institutions, such as the National Gallery of Art, Washington, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, and the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, as well as from a number of significant private collections. Edinburgh is the exhibition’s only UK venue. The exhibition is also be the first major show of Andy Warhol’s work in Scotland.

Andy Warhol: Self-Portraits is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by Robert Rosenblum (Professor of Modern European art at New York University, one of the foremost Warhol scholars), Dietmar Elger (of the Sprengel Museum, Hannover), Roland Wäspe (of the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen) and Keith Hartley (of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art). The catalogue has been published by Hatje Cantz in soft and hard-back with bilingual English and German texts, and is priced £16.99.

SCOTTISH NATIONAL GALLERY OF MODERN ART 
75 Belford Road, Edinburgh
www.nationalgalleries.org

February 5, 2005

Bilan de la Foire des Antiquaires de Belgique 2005

Bilan de la Foire des Antiquaires de Belgique 2005

Le 30 janvier 2005, la 50ème édition de la Foire des Antiquaires de Belgique fermait ses portes sur un excellent cru qui, s’il vit converger un nombre plutôt stable de plus ou moins 30.000 visiteurs, a donné satisfaction à l’ensemble des exposants qui rencontrèrent une grande quantité d’amateurs, collectionneurs et professionnels des antiquités. De l’avis unanime, le succès s’est à nouveau concrétisé par un volume de vente variable, légèrement en dessous par rapport à l’année précédente mais jugé excellent vu l’état du marché international. Une sélection très pointue des exposants, un contrôle rigoureux effectué par des comités d’experts non exposants, tout comme un public plus « select » de même qu’une presse élogieuse ont confirmé la place de la foire au troisième rang dans le calendrier des grandes manifestations européennes, derrière TEFAF Maastricht et la Biennale des Antiquaires de Paris.

Evénement de qualité et de prestige, le très beau salon d’antiquités qui vient de se clôturer une fois encore sur le prestigieux site de Tour et Taxis doit beaucoup au Comité, à l’équipe de management qui a su, depuis 3 ans, grâce à un dynamisme hors pair allié à une organisation très professionnelle, développer des objectifs dignes d’une grande foire internationale. Depuis 1955, la Foire des Antiquaires de Belgique, la plus ancienne au monde, organisée par la Chambre Royale des Antiquaires de Belgique, fondée en 1919 constitue l’événement annuel incontournable en matière d’antiquités et d’œuvres d’art.

Les superbes et immenses halls du bâtiment A de l’ancienne gare de triage de Tour & Taxis qui, depuis 2004, accueillent le salon, n’ont pas failli à leur réputation d’agrément et d‘accessibilité. Une fois encore, l’équipe du bureau Volume (Nicolas de Liedekerke et Daniel Culot) a su apporter, en une profusion de vélums en camaïeux de vert absinthe, une touche inimitable à la valorisation de l’espace architectural. Comme à chaque édition, cette mise en espace fut relayée par le soin tout particulier que les antiquaires eux-mêmes ont veillé à apporter à la conception et à la décoration de leurs stands. En outre, luxe suprême, les allées du salon étaient ponctuées de robes et créations par Gerald Watelet, l’un des meilleurs ambassadeurs de la Haute Couture belge à Paris!

Sur une superficie laissée à la discrétion de chaque exposant, mais qui permet le rassemblement d’une bonne centaine de stands, c’est surtout la rigueur de la sélection et l’attention toute particulière portée aux journées d’expertise, le fameux ‘vetting’, effectué par 52 experts non exposants et en grande partie conservateurs de musées et scientifiques issus du monde entier qui permirent de rencontrer les attentes qualitatives d’un public toujours plus exigeant. Le succès des visites guidées, lesquelles proposaient un tour de la foire à travers les 50 objets muséaux phares (voir liste jointe).

Nous avons noté les résultats suivants, la Manufacture Royale De Wit a vendu 7 magnifiques tapisseries flamandes d’une très grande qualité, le domaine de l’argenterie et de la bijouterie ont enregistré des ventes d’un très haut niveau, la peinture belge du XXème siècle a eu de très bons résultats tandis que les arts primitifs et chinois ont eu plus de difficultés pour vendre leurs pièces exceptionnelles, les dessins anciens se sont bien vendus surtout les dessins italiens et français et enfin un large et bel éventail de sculptures renaissance et baroque était proposé.

Les exposants étaient plutôt satisfaits du niveau de leurs ventes dans un marché soutenu par des clients bien informés et connaisseurs.

L’Art Loss Register (Registre des Œuvres d’Art Volées) ainsi que la police judicaire belge ont été conviés par le Comité organisateur de la Foire des Antiquaires de Belgique  afin de vérifier la provenance légale des objets exposés.

Le Laboratoire du Dr Gysels (analyse des objets par scanners à rayons) était également invité afin de mieux informer le public sur cette technique d’analyse.

On notera dès à présent dans les agendas les dates de la 51ème édition de l’événement du  20 au  29 janvier 2006, sur le site de Tour et Taxis.

FOIRE DES ANTIQUAIRES DE BELGIQUE
Rue Ernest Allard 32, 1000 Bruxelles
www.antiques-fair.be