Weekly Bulletin August 14


In this week’s weekly bulletin, Alexandra Peers sees a snub of Russian billionaires, and public nudity on a pedestal in London.

Dos Vidanya
You need look no further than the fall travel itinerary for Sotheby’s annual “masterpieces” tour for proof that big-spending Russian billionaires have left the art market. This fall, at its bellwether Impressionist and Modern art sale on November 4, Sotheby’s is selling various Renoirs, Sisleys and Pissarros from the collection of pioneering French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. (It’s a killer provenance. All but one were acquired by Durand-Ruel directly from the artist, and they’ve been off the auction market for more than a half-century.)

Antony Gormley’s Plinth

In recent years Russian and Georgian billionaires have bought or bid on Picassos, Matisses, Rothkos, etc., This season, though, they’re skipping Moscow and St. Petersburg entirely. The exhibition will tour only in Hong Kong, London, Paris and New York.  Of course, Russians generally prefer modern art to the fussy, sunny Impressionists, notes a Sotheby’s insider, but in recent years many brightly-colored seven-figure “star” works went to Russia, if just for a look-see. Together, the seven Durand-Ruel works are expected to bring in upwards of $9 million, a restrained estimate that fits the current climate.

Brits Take a Stand
Second home in Britain? Exhibitionist? Consider applying to be a “plinthian.” So far, about 32,000 people have registered in a lottery to take part in artist Antony Gormley’s 100-day project in London, with another series of spots set to be awarded September 1. Participants climb a stone tower in Trafalgar Square and, for one hour, do anything they like on it. The only requirements are that participants be United Kingdom residents, and don’t do anything illegal. Most plinthians go by first names and engage in antics to achieve personal fame or publicity for various causes.

So far, people on the plinth have lounged, played music, sent text messages, led the crowd in a “Time Warp” dance from the “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” read from the bible and built a house of cards. Earlier this week, one man stripped nude, resulting in a burst of applause from the crowd—and police intervention. Perhaps most fun: The guy in the Godzilla suit who ripped up a cardboard scale model of London. The project runs through October 14, and the odds of winning the “draw” for a spot are better than one in 15. Applications, and live video of the piece, are at oneandother.co.uk.

Prada Placement
Tomorrow, August 14, the Prada Foundation opens an exhibition of the video artist Nathalie Djurberg in South Korea. The show, a “cave of the unconscious,” will be in the Rem Koolhaas building next to the Geyonghui Palace in Seoul. A Swedish artist working in Berlin, Djurberg won “promising young artist” at the Venice Biennale earlier this summer for her surreal stop-motion figurine animations, but they were a little late to the party. Djurberg actually broke out as a star a couple of years ago; her cute claymation-style takes on cruelty and manipulation were the hits of the New Art Dealers Assocation fair in Miami in 2007 and her works are already in the collection of Don and Mera Rubell and the Guggenheim Museum.

Timely “Hard Times”
A show that opened earlier this week at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art in Washington, D.C., looks at how the crash of the stock market in 1929 crippled—then later invigorated, through the Public Works project—the American art scene. According to the museum, “the toils and triumphs of a wide range of individual artists and art organizations are documented in letters, photographs, journals, business records, and oral history interviews. [They] reveal how American artists survived against the odds.” The show, “Hard Times,” runs through November 8, hopefully outlasting the recession. Meanwhile, museum admission is free.