Art News Headlines: December 17, 2010


Ludovico Carracci The Vision of Saint Francis (c. 1602)

The Art Institute of Chicago announces a major acquisition of an early 17th century painting by Ludovico Carracci, The Vision of Saint Francis. The work is the first painting by the artist to enter the collection. While the museum does hold a generous amount of works on paper by Ludovico and his cousins Annibale and Agostino, generally recognized as the artists who transformed Italian painting at the turn of the 17th century, The Vision of Saint Francis is the first painting by a Carracci to become part of the Art Institute’s permanent collection. This intimate, emotionally charged oil on copper painting depicting a tender vision of Saint Francis, is one of 16 known paintings on copper by Carracci, many of which are in private collections. As a result, the public has had little opportunity to view such a seminal work.

As the notion of art as an asset gains momentum again, the first stock exchange for art, through which clients can buy shares in works from galleries, is due to launch in Paris later this week. Based on a stock market model, Art Exchange will offer collectors the chance to jointly own works of art with shares available from between €10 and €100. “Given that we are doing something new, we had to create confidence and credibility in the investor and this is done through having high-class art works,” said Caroline Mat­thews, the director of operations at Art Exchange. Matthews also hopes the caliber of works available will encourage naysayers to invest through the exchange. “For some people, mixing fine art and finance goes against their principles, but perhaps they will see things differently in the future,” she said. While collectors might not like the idea of looking at art as a financial investment, prices continue to rise—although not ideal, Art Exchange is convenient and cheaper.

Bonhams has recently announced an upcoming auction that will feature Eric Clapton’s guitars and amps, donated by the musician himself, in an effort to raise funds for The Crossroads Centre, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center founded by Clapton in 1998. The sale will feature over 70 guitars and 70 amps that helped to create Clapton’s legendary sound. This is the first time the rock icon has donated his historic amplifiers to auction, and gives fans a rare opportunity to purchase a piece of Clapton history. A highlight of the sale will be one of Clapton’s main stage guitars from 2005, which formed one of a pair he memorably used during the Cream Reunion Shows in London and New York—a custom built black Fender ‘Eric Clapton Signature’ Stratocaster, estimated to fetch over $20,000. The auction will be held in New York on March 9, 2011.

Bill Viola, Bodies of Light

In an astonishing move, the European Com­mis­sion has reversed a decision made in a UK tax tribunal, and refused to classify works by Dan Flavin and Bill Viola as “art”. This means that UK galleries and auction houses will have to pay the full VAT (value added tax, which goes up to 20% next year) and customs fees on video and light works. The European Commission has classified the works by the duo as “projectors” and “wall light fittings”. This is largely extraordinary not because of the increased taxes, as unfortunate as they are, but more-so due to the supposition that art can even be defined as to not include light elements. As art lawyer Pierre Valentin, who at one time represented the artists, stated: “To suggest that a work by Dan Flavin is a work of art only when it is switched on, is comical.”

Maybe when you’re celebrating your 103rd birthday, you will enjoy opening a museum chock-full of a lifetime of excellent art. Then again, you’re not Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who is celebrating his 103rd year of birth in conjunction with the opening of The Oscar Niemeyer Foundation outside Rio de Janeiro. This stunning museum, designed by the architect himself, showcases exhibits chronicling the legendary architect’s lifetime of art and modernist architecture. Included in Niemeyer’s résumé are over 600 installations all over the world, including the U.N. headquarters in New York. Niemeyer hasn’t said hello to retirement quite yet—he is still working on projects today and welcomes young architects from all over the world, hoping to instill in younger generations the same aesthetics that allowed him to strive for beauty in the manipulation of architectural forms.

Laura Lawson paints when writer’s block strikes and writes when painter’s block strikes. She has studied fine art at LCAD and is pursuing a degree in journalism. Recently diagnosed with the degenerative eye disease retinitis pigmentosa, she strives to bring hope to those without vision through her blog. She is currently working on her first book about coping with vision loss.