Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Leonardo da Vinci's sketch becomes a reality : walking on water

gizmag Article: Patent granted for walking on water invention: "

October 31, 2006 History suggests humans have always been captivated with the possibility of walking on water with references to it in Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. In Egyptian mythology the god Horus walked on water, and in Greek mythology Orion, the son of the gods walked on water. Indeed, Leonardo da Vinci even conceived a set of shoes and stocks which would enable this highly improbable act.

Now, thanks to an invention by Massachusetts inventor Yoav Rosen, it seems we may be in need of a new colloquialism for the impossible. Rosen’s Da Vinci-like pontoon shoes have just been granted a patent by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for an “Upright Human Floatation Apparatus And Propulsion Mechanism” and enable him to do just that (video here). Rosen’s company wishes to focus its business activities on its equally remarkable standing kayaks, and is seeking to license or sell its water-walking technology. We spoke with Rosen about his invention.

The new water-walking patent (patent number 7,121,910) is a continuation to a previous patent (patent number 6,764,363) with an identical name that was published in August 2004.

Rosen’s company, Wavewalk makes kayaks that people can paddle while standing and is a firm proponent of offering people the alternative of standing instead of sitting in their recreational boating.

“Snow skiing and snowboarding are more popular than snow sledding, and surfboards are more popular than surf skis, and most people prefer to ride a cycle upright rather than recumbent, so why shouldn’t people do their boating standing up,” says Rosen. That was the standing rather than sitting imperative that motivated Rosen to begin work on his pontoon shoes for walking on water and subsequently to develop the WaveWalk.

“I was a teenager then, and I just couldn't accept the fact that walking on water wasn't possible. After all, people have been surfing standing for hundreds, maybe thousands of years!”
“Humans are bipedal, and we like using our legs,” he continues. “We're also very good in doing that, if and when we're given a chance."

We asked Rosen if he had seen Leonardo da Vinci's sketches before or after he had the idea? “I saw it recently, but if you look at Leonardo's sketch it's clear he wasn't thinking about walking on water at all but rather about human powered water skiing.”

“In the "prior art" section of my patents, I'm quoting some 70 patents and inventions, starting with ancient catamarans, Leonardo Da Vinci and the first known patent in the field of water-walking dating 1858, that was granted to a Bostonian named H. R. Rowlands. The problems with all prior water-walking inventions were mainly in the areas of effective propulsion and sufficient stability.

“Think about it this way. You load and unload a tiny "canoe" with your entire weight at a rate of once per second ... in this short period of time you also have to generate maximum water-resistance from one leg, while you minimize the water-resistance from your other leg that's making a full, long step forward.

“And you also have to be able to make turns without using a rudder or a paddle, and you should be able to keep a maximal distance between your "shoes" because if your legs spread you'll lose balance and fall ... and you need to be able to enter the equipment on firm land and then access the water since you definitely don't want to struggle with getting your feet into it while you're already in the water.

“It is no wonder it took so long for this apparently simple "technology" to mature,” he smiles. Why are you selling or licensing the walking on water patents rather than developing them yourself, we asked Rosen. His response: “I'm offering the patent for sale since my company doesn't have the resources to develop the potential markets for both Wavewalk and water-walking products.”

125th birth anniversary of Pablo Picasso

Madrid - As Spain celebrates the 125th birth anniversary of Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) on October 25, nobody questions that he was one of the greatest artists of all time and perhaps the greatest of the 20th century.

In his lifetime, Picasso took such adulation for granted. The artist's last wife Jacqueline even used to kiss his hands and call him 'my God.'

Few people remember today that Picasso's works continued sparking scandals almost until his death.

Many of the people queueing to anniversary exhibitions in Spain, France, the United States, Austria or Germany this year would no doubt be reluctant to admit that often, in fact, they do not understand the master's Cubist paintings.

There is, in any case, no question that the painter born in the southern Spanish city of Malaga revolutionized the world of art. He may later be remembered as 'the great grave-digger of art or as its great fertilizer,' Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa writes.

Picasso's prodigious talent was evident from the beginning. His art teacher father soon had nothing more to impart to his young son.

When Pablo was 14, the family moved to artistically vibrant Barcelona where the boy began art studies. In 1897, Picasso was admitted to Madrid's Academy of Fine Arts at the young age of 16 years.

In 1904, he moved to Paris where, three years later, he painted Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, a key work in the development of Cubism.

For Picasso, life was an endless source of inspiration and experimentation, where he picked the women, harlequins, minotaurs, bullfighters, animals and children who populate his paintings.

He left behind no less than some 1,900 paintings, 3,200 pieces of ceramics, 7,000 drawings, 1,200 sculptures and 30,000 graphic works.

'The soul of beings does not interest him much,' the US writer Gertrude Stein once said. Picasso liked to keep his models at a distance and under control, deconstructing them in his Cubist fashion rather than studying them psychologically.

He displayed something of the same attitude towards his two wives, numerous lovers and four children.

Books by Picasso's lover Francoise Gilot and his niece Marina Picasso irritated many of the artist's admirers by describing his egoistic and callous treatment of those close to him.

After Picasso's death, his grandson Pablo, his former lover Marie-Therese Walter and his last wife Jacqueline Roque all committed suicide.

Jacqueline Roque

Portrait of Jacqueline Roque with Flowers

Portrait of Jacqueline Roque with Flowers

Giclee Print
Picasso, Pablo 13 in. x 20 in.
Buy at AllPosters.com Framed Mounted

For the world of art, however, Picasso's contribution was invaluable. 'He represents a revolution of forms, a break with all that was before, but he also builds a bridge towards tradition,' Vargas Llosa writes.

Picasso, who experimented with art forms ranging from his 'blue period' to surrealism, was a chameleon who could make any style his own.

However, he claimed that there could be nothing new in art. 'Art does not have a past or a future, evolution or progress,' said the artist who integrated ancient African influences into his work.

Refusing to return to a Spain governed by General Francisco Franco, Picasso protested against the dictatorship by creating Guernica, his probably most famous work, for the Paris World Exhibition in 1937.

Guernica, 1937

Guernica, 1937 Art Print Picasso, Pablo 28 in. x 22 in.
Buy at AllPosters.com Framed Mounted

The huge canvas depicting the bombardment of the Basque town of Guernica by Nazi Germany in support of Franco during the Spanish Civil War - brought to Spain from the United States in 1981 after the dictator's death - remains a powerful anti-war symbol.

Painting obsessively as if in a race against time, Picasso was still creating heavily erotic images shortly before his death in Mougins, southern France, at age 92.

© 2006 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Vietnamese-born artist Binh Danh

Binh Danh's chlorophyll prints

Vietnamese-born artist Binh Danh prints photographs onto living leaves. Seen here, The Leaf Effect: Study for Metamorphosis #2, 2006, 11.5 x 9.5 x 2 inches, chlorophyll print, butterfly specimen and resin. From Danh's artist page at the Haines Gallery:
 Images Bdan.8649.Lg Danh has invented a technique for printing found photographs (digitally rendered into negatives) onto the surface of leaves by exploiting the natural process of photosynthesis. The leaves, still living, are pressed between glass plates with the negative and exposed to sunlight from a week to several months. Coined "chlorophyll prints" by the artist, the fragile works are encapsulated and made permanent through casting them in solid blocks of resin. By conjoining his process into his conceptual ideas so completely, Danh is also able to reference the history and technical developments of photography.

He says of his work, "Throughout my education, I have always been very attracted to Art, History, and Science. The histories I search for are the hidden stories embedded in the landscape around me. The processes used in my work represent my interest in the sciences and photographic techniques."
Link to Haines Gallery, Link to an Examiner.com article about Danh's last exhibition, Link to NPR "Talking Plants" program about Danh from 2003 (Thanks, Jennifer Lum!)

UPDATE: Thanks to all the readers who pointed out that Grand Illusions has a page showing how to make your own chlorophyll prints using a similar technique. Link

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Picasso in the Vatican?

More ART TALK on Picasso:

Earlier this week there was a story of a guy putting his elbow through a Picasso, and a short while earlier there was a story about the Vatican wanting modern art to add to thier collection. I retitled the story - Whose going to pay for it? That little editorial barb was to call attention to the choice of where Roman Catholic Church funds were being spent. Should they spend one hundred million on a Picasso, or maybe spend the money instead on building homes for the homeless - or inproving the Church's own schools? This is just one take on the subject.

I found an interesting artical on the subject, a different view, from the Art Critic Elizabeth Lez

Picasso in the Vatican? A Possible Short List

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, AUG. 31, 2006 (Zenit.org).- This summer, Francesco Buranelli, director of the Vatican Museums, was interviewed by the Italian newspaper La Stampa, revealing his ambition to add a Picasso to the Vatican collection.

This struck me as somewhat strange. While Picasso was undeniably a great artist, why would the Vatican Museums want to display the work of a man who undermined the Christian message for seventy years?

Of course from a purely technical angle, Buranelli's aspiration makes good sense. What museum director, after all, wouldn't want a work by the most celebrated name in 20th century art?

But perhaps I am missing something. After all, there are so many styles and periods in Picasso's work, maybe one would indeed complement the art collection of the Catholic Church?

So I did a little research and compiled a short list of possible contenders for a place alongside Michelangelo, Raphael and other great Christian artists represented in the Vatican Museums.

"The Crucifixion"

This would be perhaps the most obvious choice, as this is the only religiously themed work by Picasso from 1897, until his death in 1973.

Pablo Picasso was born in 1881 into a Spanish Catholic family. He rejected his Catholic upbringing in his early 20s, mostly because he saw religious morals as an obstacle to the burgeoning sexual freedom of his age.

More prodigious than prodigal, Picasso never publicly returned to the church, although a priest was present at the artist's funeral.

Picasso sidelined Christ in the painting the way he had sidelined him in his own life. Picasso's "Crucifixion" features a small Christ at the top center. The crucified Jesus seems overwhelmed by what appears to be weeping women superimposed on him.

It is difficult to tell friend from foe in the work, and the clearest image of all is the soldier playing dice in the lower left.

Done in crayon colors, the painting seems more like a self-pitying tribute to Picasso's personal troubles (his wife and mistress were not getting along) than any real exploration of the meaning of Christ's suffering.

"Man with Sheep"

This bronze sculpture, representing a man holding a sheep, was created in 1944 at the end of World War II. This piece could be displayed next to "The Good Shepherd" statue in the Pio Christian Museum.

Viewers could contrast the youthful gentle face of the good shepherd, one of the earliest Christian symbols for Jesus, next to Picasso's stark, distorted man with the bulging eyes and fierce expression.

In the Christian version of the subject, a tranquil lamb curls gently around the shepherd's shoulders, but in the modern vision, although the shepherd clasps the sheep in one arm like an infant, the animal twists its head away, open-mouthed and protesting. Unlike the good shepherd, the savior who has found a lost sheep, Picasso's figure seems like a butcher bringing a lamb to the slaughter.

Picasso sculpted this work at the same time he joined the Communist party, so the distortion of one of the oldest symbols of man's salvation makes an apt metaphor for the artist's new ideology.

"The Demoiselles of Avignon"

This work, painted in 1904, of course refers to Avignon, home of the Papacy for over 70 years in the 14th century, so it bears a nice papal point of reference.

The painting has all the hallmarks of a masterpiece; employing the techniques of the old masters, Picasso made 106 preparatory sketches for it, which resulted in an innovative, gripping effect.

Unlike Michelangelo's Mary in the Pieta, who renders the sublime beauty of God's grace and her exemplary obedience to divine will, Picasso's five female figures are imbued with a very different kind of "feminine genius." The demoiselles pose, strut and squat in a brothel.

Like Renaissance artists, Picasso explored the sacred in this work, except his "holy" inspiration was drawn from the tribal African masks. Speaking of the "Demoiselles," the Spanish painter said that the African masks "were intercessors … against everything," adding that the painting was his "first canvas of exorcism!"

True, this work is a watershed in the history of art and most curators would allow themselves to be contorted into one of Picasso's misshapen figures to own it, furthermore, they would be completely justified given the nature and function of their secular museums.

The Vatican Museums, however, were not intended to be just another general exhibition in the history of art.

Michelangelo and Bernini and Fra Angelico created works that incite devotion, glorify God and stir viewers to transcend themselves. Secular museums do not have to reckon with two thousand years of propagating the Christian message.

My real question became: What do these works have to offer to the Christian audience looking for signs of God's sublime presence in our troubled modern times?

One of Picasso's early works might offer a solution to the selection dilemma.

"Science and Charity" was painted in 1897 by a 17-year-old Picasso.

This academic painting shows a woman on her deathbed, a doctor on her right and a nun on her left. The doctor looks away from the patient as he takes her pulse and goes about his science. The religious sister holds the woman's soon-to-be-orphaned child, proffering a glass toward the woman offering comfort.

Both the nun and the doctor wear the same colors of black and white, and appear as two sides of a scale. But the balance is tipped slightly toward the sister as the light shines on her while the doctor is cast in shadow. At the moment of death his science is useless, but the charitable care of the sister can offer solace.

Given that Picasso was to reject religion and embrace science as his guide -- from optics in cubism to psychology in his surrealist phase -- if nothing else, this painting would serve as a reminder of how God's gifts of talent, vision and genius can be used for both good and ill.

Is there a place in the history of art for Pablo Picasso? Most assuredly. I doubt very much, however, that it is in the Vatican Museums.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Paul Klee - a missed exhibit

Opening Eyes, Belatedly, to Paul Klee

By Jessica Dawson
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, June 18, 2006; N01

A Paul Klee exhibition in the United States is bound to prompt a question:

What, exactly, does a Paul Klee painting look like?

We Americans aren't likely to know. Although the Swiss-born artist's fame came easily enough in Europe -- where his career flowered in the decades before his death in 1940 from scleroderma -- those on this side of the Atlantic missed the memo itemizing Klee's talent and influence.

Perhaps that's because the artist never traveled stateside and never really wanted to. Perhaps Americans didn't cotton to Klee's jittery lines, off-note color schemes and childlike surrealism. Or maybe his reputation as a fringe-dwelling visionary turned people off.

"Klee and America," on view at the Phillips Collection, offers alternate explanations for our country's slow warming to the idiosyncratic painter. This nation, after all, did accept him, although the embrace was warmest after his death.

The artist's American market witnessed its first uptick toward the end of his career, when his reputation in Europe soured due to Nazi interference. In the early 1930s, he benefited from the efforts of a strong cohort of expatriate American dealers who pushed his work stateside -- and by the middle of that decade, his work found Americans sympathetic to his talent and his persecution.

Later in the 20th century his impact was clear, but it's been 20 years since Americans saw a major Klee show. If we struggle to conjure a Klee in our minds, perhaps we can be forgiven our fuzzy-headedness.

The nearly 80 works in "Klee and America," organized by Houston's Menil Collection, serve as a barometer of the artist's rise in this nation's consciousness during his lifetime. Only those paintings and works on paper that landed on U.S. soil are on view.

Tracing Klee's relationship to the United States through the pictures Americans bought is an unusual curatorial tack, one that scholars might delight in viewing. For the everyday museum visitor, though, the exhibition performs a more urgent task: It shows us what Klee's pictures look like.

"Klee and America," it should be noted, is no survey. Only 10 percent of Klee's output is held by Americans, so this show registers the tastes of a discrete collecting population. The accompanying catalogue, a 315-page behemoth that's richly illustrated and thoroughly researched, parses the details of transatlantic Klee transactions and the early-20th-century tastemakers who brought his work here.

We learn about Katherine S. Dreier, who in the 1920s founded Societe Anonyme in collaboration with Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray and organized Klee's first one-man show in the United States, in 1924. We learn that six years after that, Alfred Barr -- a man whose reputation requires no further gilding -- mounted the largest solo show of Klee's work outside Europe, at the Museum of Modern Art; Klee was the first living European artist to receive a solo show there. Also found in the catalogue's pages: The notion that Klee didn't gain traction here until his fortunes fell in Nazi Germany.

You'll have to crack the catalogue to get the details. The Phillips exhibition is mercifully free of didacticism. "Klee and America" asks us, quite simply, to look. And we've got some excellent pictures from the 1920s and '30s to feast on.

Many of Klee's pictures were made in Germany, where he spent most of his life. After moving to Munich at the turn of the century and abandoning a career as a concert violinist (he would continue to play all his life), he began painting lessons. Klee and Wassily Kandinsky, himself fresh from a career change, shared painting instructor Franz von Stuck, an artist specializing in the macabre themes of late symbolism and art nouveau.

Although Kandinsky and Klee shared a belief in the spiritual nature of art and its eruption from deep human drives, their work took very different forms.

When Klee worked in abstraction, as he did in "Gradation, Red-Green (Vermilion)," a 1921 watercolor on view at the Phillips, he never approached Kandinsky's bravado of color and scale. Klee's exercise in color and composition is much more intimate and subdued than any Kandinsky. Most of the Klees here are the size of postcards or notebook paper. (A few get larger as he approaches his final years. Most suffer a little for it.)

Although Klee lived in Germany, a strong strain of French surrealism ran through his pictures. The twitchy lines and oddball creatures of Klee's works from the 1920s show why the French considered him one of the fathers of dada. At the Phillips, the Duchampian "Twittering Machine" is on view, as is the anxiously Freudian "Girl With Doll's Pram," where the little girl's breasts are the size of Hindenburgs.

For most of the 1920s, Klee taught at the Bauhaus and later at the Dusseldorf Academy. But his time in Germany ended badly. His teaching emphasized individualism, and the Nazis found his lessons suspect, dismissing him from the Dusseldorf position in 1933. Several years later, Germany exhibited some of his most childlike work in its degenerate-art exhibition. Klee spent his final years in exile in Switzerland.

Klee's waning European fortunes offered more opportunities for Americans to acquire him. In "Klee and America," wall labels detailing provenance read like small-scale society rags. That the picture called "Plan of a Castle" (a spatial exercise in floating polygons) belonged to Philip Johnson in the years 1948 to 1961 comes as no surprise, given the architect's taste for geometry. That Johnson also owned the childlike ink drawing "Not Without Heart" (1928) -- in which Klee renders a dachshund out of a parallelogram with charming naivete -- seems rather out of Johnson's character. (A few years later, the collecting stars realigned when the piece turned up in gimlet-penned draftsman Andy Warhol's cache.)

Among the Important People who acquired Klees was Duncan Phillips. Visitors to this leg of "Klee and America" get a special treat: a re-creation of the Klee room that Phillips maintained for nearly 40 years, beginning in 1948. In a former sewing room on the second floor of the museum mansion, 13 tiny Klees hung shoulder-to-shoulder for the enjoyment of thousands of visitors, Kenneth Noland and Mark Rothko among them.

That little group, perhaps the strongest subset of "Klee and America," reminds us what fun Klee is, and what peculiar attraction his works offer.

Although the museum plans to rehang the Klee room after "Klee and America" ends, the when and where of that arrangement remain uncertain. For the time being, at least, our chance is now.

Klee and America at the Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW, Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Sunday noon-5 p.m., through Sept. 10. $12 adults, $10 age 62 and older and students. Free to those 18 and younger and museum members. Call 202-387-2151 or visit http://www.phillipscollection.org/ .

posted by follower of basho

Paul Klee qoutes:

To emphasize only the beautiful seems to me to be like a mathematical system that only concerns itself with positive numbers.

Paul Klee qoutes:

Democracy with its semi-civilization sincerely cherishes junk. The artist's power should be spiritual. But the power of the majority is material. When these worlds meet occasionally, it is pure coincidence.

Monday, October 16, 2006

oops! I put a hole in my Picasso!

The New Yorker: The Talk of the Town:

Issue of 2006-10-23
Posted 2006-10-16

You might have seen “Le Rêve,” Picasso’s 1932 portrait of his mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, in your college art-history textbook. The painting is owned by Steve Wynn, the casino magnate and collector of masterpieces. He acquired it in a private sale in 2001 from an anonymous collector, who had bought it at auction in 1997 for $48.4 million. Recently, Wynn decided that he’d like to sell it, along with several other museum-quality paintings he owns. A friend of his, the hedge-fund mogul and avid collector Steven Cohen, had coveted “Le Rêve” for years, so he and Wynn and their intermediaries worked out a deal. Cohen agreed to pay a hundred and thirty-nine million dollars for it, the highest known price ever paid for a work of art.

A few weeks ago, on a Thursday, a representative of Cohen’s came from California to inspect the painting. She removed it from the wall, took it out of its frame, and confirmed that it was in excellent shape. On Friday, she wrote her condition report, and so, according to their contract, the deal was done. All that was left was the actual exchange of money and art.

That weekend, Wynn had some friends visiting from New York—David and Mary Boies, Nora Ephron and Nick Pileggi, Louise Grunwald, and Barbara Walters. They were staying, as they often do, at his hotel and casino, the Wynn Las Vegas. As they had dinner together on Friday night, Wynn told them about the sale. “The girls said, ‘We’ve got to see it tomorrow,’ ” Wynn recalled last week. “So I said, ‘I’ll be working tomorrow. Just come on up to the office.’ ” (He had recently moved “Le Rêve” there from the hotel lobby.)

The guests came at five-thirty, and Wynn ushered them in. On the wall to his left and right were several paintings, including a Matisse, a Renoir, and “Le Rêve.” The other three walls were glass, looking out onto an enclosed garden. He began to tell the story of the Picasso’s provenance. As he talked, he had his back to the picture. He was wearing jeans and a golf shirt. Wynn suffers from an eye disease, retinitis pigmentosa, which affects his peripheral vision and therefore, occasionally, his interaction with proximate objects, and, without realizing it, he backed up a step or two as he talked. “So then I made a gesture with my right hand,” Wynn said, “and my right elbow hit the picture. It punctured the picture.” There was a distinct ripping sound. Wynn turned around and saw, on Marie-Thérèse Walter’s left forearm, in the lower-right quadrant of the painting, “a slight puncture, a two-inch tear. We all just stopped. I said, ‘I can’t believe I just did that. Oh, shit. Oh, man.’ ”

Wynn turned around again. He put his pinkie in the hole and observed that a flap of canvas had been pushed back. He told his guests, “Well, I’m glad I did it and not you.” He said that he’d have to call Cohen and William Acquavella, his dealer in New York, to tell them that the deal was off. Then he resumed talking about his paintings, almost, but not quite, as though he hadn’t just delivered what one of the guests would later call, in an impromptu stab at actuarial math, a “forty-million-dollar elbow.”

A few hours later, they all met up for dinner, and Wynn was in a cheerful mood. “My feeling was, It’s a picture, it’s my picture, we’ll fix it. Nobody got sick or died. It’s a picture. It took Picasso five hours to paint it.” Mary Boies ordered a six-litre bottle of Bordeaux, and when it was empty she had everyone sign the label, to commemorate the calamitous afternoon. Wynn signed it “Mary, it’s all about scale—Steve.” Everyone had agreed to take what one participant called a “vow of silence.” (The vow lasted a week, until someone leaked the rudiments of the story to the Post.)

The next day, Wynn finally reached his dealer, and told him, “Bill, I think I’m going to ruin your day.” The first word out of Acquavella’s mouth was “Nooo!” Later that week, Wynn’s wife, Elaine, took the painting to New York in Wynn’s jet, where she and “Le Rêve” were met by an armored truck. Cohen met them at Acquavella’s gallery, on East Seventy-ninth Street, and he agreed that the deal was off until the full extent of the damage could be ascertained. The contract, at any rate, was void.

The painting wound up in the hands of an art restorer, who has told Wynn that when he’s done with it, in six or eight weeks, you won’t be able to tell that Wynn’s elbow had passed through Marie-Thérèse Walter’s left forearm.

Last Friday, when Wynn’s alarm went off, at 7 A.M., his wife turned to him in bed and said, “I consider this whole thing to be a sign of fate. Please don’t sell the picture.” Later that morning, Wynn called Cohen and told him he wanted to keep the painting, after all.

— Nick Paumgarten


Nora Ephron

My Weekend in Vegas

We got there Friday night and went straight to dinner at the SW Restaurant, which is of course named after Steve Wynn. I'd never been there. It has a strip steak that I honestly thought was the finest steak of my life, and let me tell you, I eat a lot of steak. (This reminds me, someone at our table ordered a steak made of grass-fed beef, it was the second time I'd had grass-fed beef in less than a week, it's become a big trend, and may I say that someone should stamp out grass-fed beef because it has no taste whatsoever.) Anyway, while we were eating, Steve and Elaine Wynn stopped by the table. Wynn was in a very good mood because, he told us, he had just sold a Picasso for $139 million. I was surprised he'd sold it, because the Picasso in question was not just any old Picasso but the famous painting Le Reve, which used to hang in the museum at the Bellagio when Wynn owned it, and no question it was Wynn's favorite painting. He'd practically named his new hotel after it, but at some point in the course of construction he'd changed his mind and decided to name the hotel after himself, which, when you think of it, was a good idea, what with the homonym and all. Meanwhile, he named the Cirque de Soleil Show at the Wynn after Le Reve.

The buyer of the painting, Wynn told, was a man named Steven Cohen. Everyone seemed to know who Steven Cohen was, a hedge fund billionaire who lived in Connecticut in a house with a fabulous art collection he had just recently amassed. "This is the most money ever paid for a painting," Steve Wynn said. The price was $4 million more than Ronald Lauder had recently paid for a Klimt. Oh, that Klimt. It had set a bar, no question of that, and Wynn was thrilled to have beaten it. He invited us to come see the painting before it moved to Connecticut, never to be seen again by anyone but people who know Steven Cohen.

The next day, after an excellent lunch at Chinois in the Forum Mall, which is the eighth wonder of the world, we all trooped back to our hotel to see the painting. We went into Wynn's office, which is just off the casino, past a waiting area with a group of fantastic Warhols, past a secretary's desk with a Matisse over it (a Matisse over a secretary's desk!) (and by the way a Renoir over another secretary's desk!) and into Wynn's office. There, on the wall, were two large Picassos, one of them Le Reve. Steve Wynn launched into a long story about the painting -- he told us that it was a painting of Picasso's mistress, Marie-Therese Walter, that it was extremely erotic, and that if you looked at it carefully (which I did, for the first time, although I'd seen it before at the Bellagio) you could see that the head of Marie-Therese was divided in two sections and that one of them was a penis. This was not a good moment for me vis a vis the painting. In fact, I would have to say that it made me pretty much think I wouldn't pay five dollars for it. Wynn went on to tell us about the provenance of the painting - who'd first bought it and who'd then bought it. This brought us to the famous Victor and Sally Ganz, a New York couple who are a sort of ongoing caution to the sorts of people who currently populate the art world, because the Ganzes managed to accumulate a spectacular art collection in a small New York apartment with no money at all. The Ganz collection went up for auction in 1997, Wynn was saying -- he was standing in front of the painting at this point, facing us. He raised his hand to show us something about the painting -- and at that moment, his elbow crashed backwards right through the canvas.

There was a terrible noise.

Wynn stepped away from the painting, and there, smack in the middle of Marie-Therese Walter's plump and allegedly-erotic forearm, was a black hole the size of a silver dollar - or, to be more exactly, the size of the tip of Steve Wynn's elbow -- with two three-inch long rips coming off it in either direction. Steve Wynn has retinitis pigmentosa, an eye disease that damages peripheral vision, but he could see quite clearly what had happened.

"Oh shit," he said. "Look what I've done."

The rest of us were speechless.

"Thank God it was me," he said.

For sure.

The word "money" was mentioned by someone, or perhaps it was the word "deal."

Wynn said: "This has nothing to do with money. The money means nothing to me. It's that I had this painting in my care and I've damaged it."

I felt that I was in a room where something very private had happened that I had no right to be at. I felt absolutely terrible.

At the same time I was holding my digital camera in my hand - I'd just taken several pictures of the Picasso - and I wanted to take a picture of the Picasso with the hole in it so badly that my camera was literally quivering. But I didn't see how I could take a picture - it seemed to me I'd witnessed a tragedy, and what's more, that my flash would go off if I did and give me away.

Steve Wynn picked up the phone and left a message for his art dealer. Then he called his wife Elaine. "You'll never believe what I just did," he said to her. From where we stood, on the other end of the phone call, Elaine seemed to take the news calmly and did not yell at her husband. This was particularly impressive to my own husband. There was a conversation about whether the painting could be restored - Wynn seemed to think it could be - and of the two people in America who were capable of restoring it. We all promised we would keep the story quiet - not, you understand, to cover it up, but to make sure that Wynn was able to deal with the episode as he wished to until it came out. We all knew it would come out eventually. It would have to. There were too many of us in the room, plus all the people in the art world who were eventually going to hear about it.

Meanwhile, we were not going to tell anyone.

We promised.

I promised.

That night we went to dinner, once again at SW because that's how great it is, it's worth going to two nights in a row. They were serving creamed corn with truffles, which was amazing. Once again the Wynns joined us. They were in a terrifically jolly mood, all things considered, and Wynn told us that he planned to tell Steve Cohen the next day that of course Cohen was released from the deal because the painting had been damaged.

After dinner I threw eight or nine passes at the craps table, one of which included a hard ten.

The next day one of my sons came to meet us in Las Vegas, and we went to Joe's Stone Crab, which is excellent, and where the key lime pie may be even better than the key lime pie at Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach, if such a thing is possible. I told my son the story of what had happened to the painting, but it didn't really count because my son is completely trustworthy.

Nine days passed and I told no one else. It was the most painful experience of my life. But I felt good, too, because, as I say, I knew the story would come out eventually and when it did, I didn't want it to be my fault. And the story did come out.. Ten days after Wynn put his elbow through the painting, there was an item about it on Page Six of the New York Post. It was very clear who had given Page Six the item, and it wasn't me. I was thrilled that I had managed to keep the story (more or less) to myself and celebrated by calling several friends and telling them my version of what had happened.

Two days later, I got a call from a reporter at the New Yorker who said he was going to write a piece about the episode. I still didn't feel comfortable discussing the event, but I called Elaine Wynn and told her the New Yorker was going to write a story and that Steve should call the reporter back and tell him about it, since no question the story was out there.

Elaine told me that she was glad I'd called because she had awakened that morning with the realization that Steve's putting his elbow through the painting had been a sign that they were meant to keep the painting. So they were going to.

Now, in today's New Yorker, there's a very charming piece about the incident, and as far as I'm concerned I am entirely released from my vow of silence on the matter.

So there it is.

My weekend in Vegas.

Chinese Contemporary: Artist Zhao Nengzhi

Chinese Contemporary: Artist:
Zhao Nengzhi lives in Chengdu, near the Yangze river in Sichuan province. He is one of a community of artists who gathered around the famous painter Zhang Xiaogang.

Zhao Nengzhi’s work is typical of many of the Sichuan artists, that is, they are lyrical and subtle. He is investigating the individual, the personality, the development and expression of the self in the new liberalizing China. He insists that his paintings are not portraits. Zhao Nengzhi is interested in finding the temperament behind the face, transferring moods and emotions to canvas. He uses photos to capture himself and his friends at various instants as these may provide an insight into facets of their personality. These photos then serve as inspiration for his oil works. The finished paintings are blurry and have but one figure. The indistinct image often focuses on one part of the face, the part key to the expression captured.

The concept of face (ie one’s honor) in China is all important and it is significant that an artist tries to delve behind this facade of his countrymen. The face of China was all that was allowed in the propaganda posters and official paintings of earlier eras. Now, however, young artists such as Zhao Nengzhi can search, investigate and express what they find behind the Chinese face."

tags: Chinese Artist, Zhao Nengzhi

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Follow up on the Nazi stolen Klimts

Adele Bloch-Bauer II

Selling art once stolen by the Nazis sparks controversy.

Friday, September 29, 2006 12:01 a.m.

Christie's recently announced that, in November, it will sell four paintings by the early-20th-century Austrian modernist Gustav Klimt, works whose combined estimated value is between $93 million and $140 million. The news has caused a sensation, and not only because of the greatness of the art and the size of the price tag.

These Klimts, three landscapes and a portrait, are part of a group of five turned over to Maria Altmann by the Austrian government earlier this year. After a seven-year campaign by Ms. Altmann, 90, Austrian officials finally acknowledged her legal right to ownership. It was, of course, the confiscatory practices of the Third Reich that had disrupted a continuous line of family ownership and had made Ms. Altmann's claim an emblem of postwar property-rights justice.

Ms. Altmann's uncle, Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, had originally owned the five paintings, two of which are portraits of his wife, Adele, who died in 1925. Bloch-Bauer had fled his native Austria in 1938 following the Anschluss, whereupon the Nazis seized his property. Beginning in the early 1940s, the paintings entered Austrian museums, there to remain until this year. Bloch-Bauer spent most of the war in Switzerland, dying in 1945.

Soon after recovering the paintings last winter, Ms. Altmann lent them to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and then to the Neue Galerie, a New York City museum for modern German and Austrian art founded by cosmetics heir Ronald Lauder. (The paintings are still on display there, until Oct. 9.) She also sold the most magnificent work of the five, the shimmering gold portrait "Adele Bloch-Bauer I," to Mr. Lauder for the eye-popping sum of $135 million.

The reaction to that first sale focused on Mr. Lauder, who had put his five-year-old institution on the map with the acquisition of a major piece of 20th-century art. The reaction to the upcoming Christie's sale has been, well, different.

New York Times chief art critic Michael Kimmelman inveighed against the sale. Ms. Altmann and her relatives, he declared, were "cashing in," turning a "story about justice and redemption after the Holocaust" into "yet another tale of the crazy, intoxicating art market." The family should give the works away, donating "one or more" to a public institution, or negotiate "a private sale to a museum at a price below the auction house estimates." He even came close to stating that Ms. Altmann's museum loans weren't a sign of her generosity but a kind of profiteering, since "the museums provided presale publicity of a sort that no auction house could organize."

The blogosphere promptly lit up. On his blog Modern Art Notes (www.artsjournal.com/man/), Tyler Green responded by blaming the museums, not Ms. Altmann. "If you want to be angry at someone for not ensuring that the Klimts ended up in private collections," he wrote, "what about the wealthy trustees at major museums?"

In a post on her site CultureGrrl (www.artsjournal.com/culturegrrl), Lee Rosenbaum (a frequent contributor to the Journal) raised another concern. She observed that "rushing to auction rather than cherishing objects that were once important to lost loved ones reinforces the pernicious stereotype that we Jews are always up against--that we are enamored of money."

Follow up in her defense: She (Ms. Altmann) couldn't afford to keep them

But what if Ms. Altmann had decided to hold on to her Klimts? Once Nazi-looted art is restored to its rightful owners, the bills start coming in. Lawyers in some restitution cases may work pro bono, but their costs cannot be waived, and these can quickly pile up. Randol Schoenberg, Maria Altmann's attorney, says that he has been willing to overlook even those on occasion. But "when you get cases that require substantial litigation, then you have to have a more professional kind of arrangement." The fight for the Klimts was one such case, observes Mr. Schoenberg, who will only say of the total legal bill that it "was quite a lot" and that he and Ms. Altmann "shared the costs."

Then there is insurance. A premium calculated at below 10 cents per $100 of appraised value is about average, says Christiane Fischer, president and CEO of AXA Art Insurance. But "once you cross the $100 million mark, the entire world of insuring art changes." In other words, only the superwealthy can afford such protection.

But there is a principle at stake bigger than cash flow, namely: Long-denied heirs like Ms. Altmann should be allowed to do as they please with their property once they have recovered it. Isn't that, so to speak, the whole point? The "story about justice and redemption after the Holocaust," to borrow Mr. Kimmelman's phrase, surely includes the right of the descendants of Nazi-era victims to exercise the freedom their families were denied.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Gmail - Stunning Glass Sculpture for KU Med

my friends at Leopold gallery just sent me this interesting email:

We recently completed an enormous sculpture in blown glass for KU Medical Center. The armature was designed by Leopold, the glass created by Vernon Brejcha. The piece, titled PulseFlow, is for KU Med’s new Cardiac Center, and incorporates over 300 pieces of glass.

Brejcha, who has been blowing art glass since 1970, is considered one of the pioneers of the contemporary art glass movement. His work is in the collections of more than 40 museums, including the Smithsonian Institute, the Los Angeles County Museum, and the Wedgewood Museum in England. The image below also shows a work he recently did for a private collector.

If you find these images as stunning as our clients have, please pass them on.

327 East 55th St. Kansas City, MO 64113 ·

(p) 816-333-3111 · (f) 816-333-3616


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Artist focus: four by August Walla

aFairy tale
"God Devil Walla"

August Walla
30 x 40 cm

(jpg from Galerie Altnöder, © Haus der Künstler, Gugging)

August Walla
Fire House, 1999
Pencil, colored pencil and ballpoint pen on white wove paper
Signed, upper right, and inscribed throughout. Extensively inscribed in colored pencil, verso
17 3/8" x 24 5/8" (44.1 x 62.5 cm)
G 99-246

August Walla’s paintings and drawings show many affinities to contemporary art in his use of bold, striking imagery and aggressively rendered forms, signs, and symbols.

He was very keen on language, and foreign words and phrases had a significant and magical meaning to him.

Painter, photographer and calligrapher August Walla has created his own mythology of invented creatures, gods, signs, words and languages. The symbols and figures of his polytheistic universe can be found throughout his work. August Walla is particularly known for his method of intervening directly in his environment, leaving his mark everywhere. In projecting a personal symbolism on his surroundings, particularly on functional elements, August Walla gives them an autonomy and life of their own.

August Walla has documented the result of his land art interventions and installations, collecting them in a sort of personal photographic journal. Over time, this journal has grown to be an accurate and lively reflection of the continuum of his work. Dazibao is showing a section of this photographic journal, covering the period between 1980 to 1983.

Not only do the works of August Walla offer us a singular language and an unusual world view, but they question the very notion of creation, the nature of the artistic act.

Born in 1936, August Walla has lived in the Gugging artists’ residence since 1983. The house, located near Vienna in Austria and founded in 1981 by the psychiatrist Leo Navratil, harbours several well-known artists of the Art Brut movement, of whom August Walla is one of the more versatile representatives. His work has been shown in a number of major European and American museums, and has greatly influenced many artists, including Julian Shnabel.

Walla died of cancer in July, 2001 at the age of sixty-five.

see also

Outsider Artist August Walla http://www.jsaslowgallery.com/artists/walla/in


Link: http://www.jsaslowgallery.com/artists/walla/index.html

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