Art News Headlines: March 13, 2011


Jim Nutt, Plumb 2004

Portrait painter Jim Nutt has said, “I’ve never really been able to understand why anybody paints a still life, even though I enjoy looking at them.” Mr. Nutt’s fierce dedication to portraiture, specifically imaginary female figures sporting gargantuan noses, is the focus of his latest exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in his hometown Chicago. “Jim Nutt: Coming Into Character,” on view through May 29, features 73 of the artist’s works, including some of his earlier, more comic-esque and grotesque pieces. Inspired largely through the comic art of the Pop Movement in the 1960s, Nutt’s paintings all feature varying versions of the same woman—a woman whose origins are mysterious, and certainly not explained by the polite and soft spoken artist. These days, it takes the artist, now 72, around a year to finish a painting. We think it’s worth the wait.

Remaining the subject of fierce debate for over two decades, Spanish authorities recently reinstated plans to construct the late artist Eduardo Chillida’s monumental, artificial cave in a Canary Island mountain, despite concerns over potential damage to ancient engravings on the mountain’s summit. The mountain is home to over 200 indigenous carvings, including “podo­morphs” or sacred etchings resembling footprints. These carvings may date as early as the first century BC. The project was recently given the green light to commence, much to the dismay of many archaeologists and environmentalists, who argue that the construction of the cave sits too close to the ancient carvings, many only 70 meters from the proposed building site. Chillida, who died in 2002, first outlined his plans for a mountain cave in 1985 but only settled on this location in 1994, after considering and abandoning sites in Sicily, Finland and Switzerland.

Pablo Picasso, Nude Green Leaves and Bust 1932

Picasso’s Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, painted by the artist in a single day in 1932, shows his mistress Marie-Thérèse Walter reclining in front of a bust of herself, as rendered in distinctive blue and lilac by the Spanish master. Last May, the painting became the most expensive work ever sold at auction, passing between two private collectors for $106m at a sale at Christie’s, New York. The piece has rarely been seen in public, but it recently was welcomed into public display for the first time at Tate Modern in London, where it will reside for at least two years in the newly named Picasso Room. Tate director Sir Nicholas Serota commented, “This is an outstanding painting by Picasso and I am delighted that through the generosity of the lender we are able to bring it to the British public for the first time.”

Street artist Thierry Guetta, better known as Mr. Brain­wash, is being sued by  photographer Glen Friedman for copyright in­fringement over a well-known image of rap group Run DMC. Friedman’s lawyers say Guetta reproduced the 1985 photograph without permission, and in turn used it in unique works of art, prints and promotional material for a 2008 exhibition. Under US law, an individual is allowed to reproduce copyrighted works for the purpose of parody or other creative ends to a small degree, also known as “fair use”. As street art becomes more mainstream, it is likely that more copyright issues will begin to seep out, especially since the genre largely relies or satirizing or reworking other works of art. Famous examples of artists’ originality being questioned in their use of copying are seen in the works of Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons.

The highly acclaimed Armory Show recently opened its thirteenth edition of the fair in New York City. The Armory Show 2011 features 274 contemporary and modern art galleries from 31 countries, Europe and Africa among the continents represented. Keeping the focus ever on the artist, The Armory Show’s commissioned artist this year is Mexican-born, Belgium-based Gabriel Kuri. Kuri’s work complements the special section of the fair entitled Armory Focus: Latin America. As per tradition, a robust calendar of VIP events, an Open Forum series of panels and roundtables featuring some of today’s greatest art minds, and collaborations with New York’s finest cultural institutions will keep art collectors and enthusiasts on their toes. Gabriel Kuri is renowned for sculptures and collages made from the remains of everyday purchases and found objects.

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.