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4 posts tagged "Frieze"

Frieze Projects Curator Cecilia Alemani on the Upswing of Art Fairs

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Eduardo Basualdo

Photos: Eduardo Basualdo,The End of ending (El fin del desenlace), Aluminum, 10 x 8 x 5 meters, 2012 

Cecilia Alemani has no shortage of influence in the art world. In her post as the director of the High Line Art program, she’s tasked with curating public artworks that are seen by the millions of tourists who pass through the park annually. As if presenting art with an eye to mass consumption wasn’t demanding enough, Alemani has also served as the curator of Frieze Projects since the inception of the fair’s New York edition three years ago. Through artist commissions, Projects has realized a dynamic array of works on Randall’s Island, from Liz Glynn’s hidden speakeasy to a special short story from novelist Rick Moody and a revival of Gordon Matta-Clark’s legendary Soho eatery, FOOD. This year, Alemani serves up a tribute to iconic seventies Hollywood creative hub, Al’s Grand Hotel. We chatted with the curator about gender inequality in galleries, international audiences, and whether it’s her job to make art accessible.

For more on Frieze New York, see our fair picks here.

There seems to have been an upswing in art fairs in recent years. Do you feel they are changing the landscape of the art world?

Being a curator I don’t go to art fairs to buy. It’s just another platform where you can see great art in a very convenient way. Maybe it’s not the ideal way, but it’s a very easy way of seeing art. It’s always a place where I can go research, thinking of an exhibition. I can kind of check my ideas, see art, and even meet artists. Also in New York, many people think New York is the center of the art world, but then you realize it’s not. [laughs]

Do you think that there is a difference between American and European art audiences?

It’s a difficult question. It’s totally different at Frieze London because it has been around for so long that it’s a bit more established. Here, I feel like the art is quite young. I’m not really in a position of saying that it is not young in London, but it’s very refreshing to see young people at the fair, which is something that I don’t usually come to expect.

All of the Frieze Sounds artists this year are women. Do you think that the art world still has a long way to go in terms of balanced gender representation?

It’s a big issue. I do think about it. It’s not that I have tried [specifically to], but I have always featured female artists who were current artists. And I think it’s very much an issue. I don’t know that it’s a very American [problem]; I think in Europe it might actually be worse. Here at least we talk about it, we talk about it being an issue. I don’t think so in Europe—very often I’m so surprised to look at exhibitions at European galleries and not have a single woman in it. In America you would never do that because it’s a bad look. So I do think it’s a big issue.

Frieze New York feels significantly more welcoming to someone who might not usually go to an art fair. Do you curate with a specific eye to accessibility? Do you think that your work with the High Line has had an influence on your approach?

I certainly think of the audience, and the audience at Frieze is almost completely an “art” audience, but I think what Frieze does really well is through the Frieze Foundation, works of Frieze Projects, Frieze Sounds, Frieze Education, Frieze Talks—we create a loophole for a totally different audience. So in my case I always think very much of art professionals, of curators like myself, the press, students, and people who maybe hang out outside the show because they cannot afford to go into the fair. All the programs that we have outside are free.

On the High Line, we have 5 million people visiting the park every year, and I think a very small fraction of that is art people. Frieze is almost all art people and a small percentage of people who just come by to see the art.

Ausstellung Eva Kotatkova "Theatre of Life"

Eva Kotátková, Work of Nature, 2011/12, Metal and wooden sculptures, ropes, Dimensions variable, Installation view, Kunstverein Braunschweig, 2013 Image courtesy of Meyer Riegger

With your work at the High Line, is it difficult to draw the line between being an art world authority and drawing in people who don’t typically look at art?

Before joining the High Line I had already worked with art organizations and institutions and never thought about broad, general audiences. Here, the audience is so extreme that you kind of do think about it. I’ve learned the myth of having to educate people—that the general audience does not get art—is completely false. And I can see that every day because every time we put out an artwork, a sculpture, an installation, video, it’s providing an encounter in a situation where the audience does not expect to encounter art. And I think that’s where the magic happens, when you surprise the viewer with something that might even upset them, might surprise them in a positive way, might leave them completely indifferent.

It seems as though interactive artworks are coming more and more to the forefront. Do you think that speaks to anything in particular about either artists or audiences?

I think it depends on the context. On the High Line we try to do a bit of everything. We do more traditional sculptures and installations, and then we try to activate the audience with performances, too. We do three or four performances a year, often participatory, yet I’m always kind of wary of participatory work. But on the High Line, in a way, you cannot do anything but [interactive work]. [laughs] You don’t want to rope off the High Line. I think in that position you have to use the audience. The audience is the best feature of the High Line, but in a museum, to be honest, I would imagine some of them being a bit more intimidated. If, for instance, you walk into MoMA with a performance going on, you would have a circle of people around, kind of intimidated. [At the High Line], the audience doesn’t really care! They walk up to [performers] and talk to them and participate. At Frieze I think it’s different. We do have a couple participatory works, but what is most important to me is to offer a different kind of experience compared with the one you simply have when you walk booth by booth.

Etro Gives Paisley An Artistic Makeover

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Etro

Etro’s creative director of accessories, Jacopo Etro, decided it was high time to give paisley some love. “Paisley is the DNA of our brand, and we wondered how it would look through the eyes of contemporary artists. Given that the pattern’s historical roots are Indian, it was logical to team up with Indian artists—they obviously grew up and were surrounded by the print, so I was intrigued to see how they saw it in a modern sense.”

Etro sought out duo Thukral & Tagra—cult artists who he has long admired—and invited them to collaborate on a capsule of collection of accessories, which go on sale today in the Bond Street store. A series of bags in jewel-toned blue, green, and a deep mahogany brown get the full Thukral & Tagra treatment, which is based on surrealistic, fantastical notions. “I asked the artists to go through the archives, and before you knew it, they were on the computer making up these prints and almost obsessively creating these repeat patterns in a numeric fashion,” said Etro.

The Thukral & Tagra prints are actually renderings of houses festooned with lights and surrounded by gardens. “That was the artists’ little tongue-in-cheek poke at the burgeoning nouveau riche in India. The two gentlemen thought that this moment in Indian history had to be recorded.” An event will be held tomorrow night at the brand’s Bond Street shop to celebrate the launch, and Etro will further endorse his admiration of the artists by exhibiting ten of their works. “Of course, since this is Frieze week, I thought it was a good idea to give these incredible artists a little bit more global exposure.”

Photo: Courtesy of Etro

Announcing Abramovic, The Institute

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“There comes a moment in every artist’s life when it is important to ask, what is going to be my legacy,” said Marina Abramovic this morning. She announced one answer to her own question at a private presentation and breakfast: with plans for her namesake institute in Hudson, New York, slated to open in 2014. Despite being early Monday morning, post-Frieze, a crowd of art-philes—including gallerist Serge Le Borgne, architect Shohei Shigematsu, and Milan city councilor Stefano Boeri—assembled inside the Performance Dome at MoMA PS1 for a first glimpse at the long-anticipated Marina Abramovic Institute, dedicated to the preservation of performance art.

After espresso and quiche, MoMA chief curator at large Klaus Biesenbach introduced Abramovic, who described the mission of the institute. “After my three-month performance at MoMA, I realized that only long-duration works have serious potential to change the viewer, because there is no division between normal daily activity and performance,” she explained. “I wanted to create a laboratory where the public can learn how to view performance work in a comfortable, no-stress space.” Helmed by architect Rem Koolhaas, the former cinema-turned-tennis club will feature a theater with surrounding classrooms, a library, and a gym as well as crystal chambers and “levitation rooms” for viewers to “regenerate.” According to Abramovic, visitors will be asked to sign contracts, giving their “word of honor” that they will stay for at least two and a half hours in the exhibit, and wear lab coats with noise-canceling headphones to experience her long-duration oeuvres, which can last from six hours to a whopping 365 days. (Fret not—Abramovic is creating recliner-cum-wheelchair devices, in which guests can sleep and be rolled in and out of performances at their leisure, or they can retreat to nearby hotels, which she eventually hopes to build for the influx of visitors.) With a fundraising target of $8 million, Abramovic has certainly set her sights high. Her ultimate goal? “To become a brand like Coca Cola, but for hard-core performance art.”

Photo: Courtesy of OMA

Deep Frieze: London’s Premiere Art Fair Arrives In New York

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If you’ve got the resources to buy contemporary art—or the admirable envy suppression to spectate as others do—it’s a good week to be in New York. Sotheby’s and Christie’s contemporary art evening sales commence next week, and beginning tomorrow, London’s Frieze Art Fair arrives for its first-ever New York residency, setting up shop on Randall’s Island, where upwards of 25,000 people are expected to descend. Frieze’s tireless directors, Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp (he, London-based; she, New York), have not only corralled 180 galleries for the event; they’ve also commissioned sculptures for an outdoor sculpture park; audio works for a sound-art program; a speaker series; a slate of on-site performances and projects, including a reconstruction by John Ahearn of his 1979 exhibition South Bronx Hall of Fame; and pop-up restaurants, cafés, and food trucks from art-world hangouts like Sant Ambroeus, the Fat Radish, Roberta’s, and the Standard. On the eve of the fair, Slotover spoke with Style.com about New York versus London, the fair and the gallery, and fashion’s enduring fixation with the world of contemporary art.

Frieze Art Fair runs May 4 through 7, 2012, on Randall’s Island, NYC. For information, tickets, and more details, visit www.friezenewyork.com.

Frieze in London is a huge and well-established event. How is New York going to be similar or different? Are you conceiving of it as quite separate, or will it be modeled on the original?
Well, I mean the great thing about having the Frieze in New York is that there is so much else to offer in the city. You know, there’s museums and galleries, and restaurants and bars and everything. We’re really working with galleries [outside the fair], too. There’s an event Saturday night in Chelsea, there’s something Sunday night on the Lower East Side.

Frieze’s co-director, Amanda Sharp, lives in New York; you live in London. How do you see the art scene differ in New York versus London, in terms of appreciation and in terms of buying?
That’s a really good question. One view of the issue is that in London you’ve got like 500 people in the art world and 500,000 people, the general public, who are interested in art. In New York, you have 5,000 people in the art world…but the general public is not as interested in art. I don’t know if that’s true; I go to museums here and they seem pretty full to me. But I think certainly there’s more galleries, there’s more collectors, there’s more major museums here, but in London we have had this massive general public kind of uptake on contemporary art, which is reflected in the media. There might be a subtle difference in that. [But] essentially, they’re two very important art cities, and those in places we always enjoy doing fairs, because they’re just incredibly cultured cities, with a lot to do. They’re attractive for people to come to, and there’s a great informed public there. They probably have more similarities than differences. Continue Reading “Deep Frieze: London’s Premiere Art Fair Arrives In New York” »