Art News Headlines: August 11, 2010

Ten members of the staff at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, five riggers, and a gargantuan scaffolding construction were recently called upon to hang an expansive and impressive canvas by Pablo Picasso. Deux Femmes Courant Sur La Plage was originally painted as part of a backdrop set for the 1924 Russian Ballet Le Train Bleu by Sergei Diaghilev. Opening next month, the new show at the V&A will emphasize Diaghilev’s artistic collaboration with a wide range of designers and artists, including Picasso and Coco Chanel. Despite the numerous Picasso exhibitions popping up all over the globe, this particular exhibition deserves some merit, at the very least for the impressive 34 by 38 foot canvas that is recognized as the artist’s largest painting ever.

The New Orleans-based Jonathan Ferrara Gallery has recently announced a new limited edition print for sale online and in-store from public artist and environmentalist Brian Borrello. A native of Louisiana, Borrello has created a striking image of the New Orleans coastline largely composed of an unlikely material: oil from the recent BP spill in the Gulf. 20 percent of the proceeds from sales of New Orleans Skyline will go towards benefiting the mental health of the Louisiana community. This isn’t the first time that Borrello has used unusual material in his work – in 2003 he began creating city skylines where he often added the “appropriate” and even toxic materials to the piece that coordinated with the city, creating poignant works with strong pro-environment overtones. Borrello’s piece is the latest in a staggering number of artistic responses to come from all over the world in angry retort to the BP oil travesty.

A new discovery of early American circus posters dating back to the 1880s has thrilled New England conservators. A $35,000 conservation project has exposed a poster depicting none other than the famed but never-before-seen two-headed woman known as Millie-Christine, the advertised “8th wonder of the world” and headliner for the John B. Doris Menagerie and Circus act. The startling and exhilarating find was hidden beneath posters from a rival circus act, the Adam Forepaugh travelling circus. Chief conservator and head of the project Walter Newman explained that tacking over rival circus posters was common, at a time where circuses were a regular part of American entertainment. The two companies had a longstanding enmity, with a history of dubious lawsuits and outrageous accusations. The posters are on view in an exhibition called Circus Day in America at the Shelburne Museum in Vermont through October 24.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art recently announced a new exhibition opening on August 6 showcasing 21 works by Swiss Expressionist artist Paul Klee. The exhibition, entitled Prints by Paul Klee, recreates a similar show to that put on by the museum back in 1946, at a time where Klee’s work was unfamiliar outside of Europe and was received by the public as highly original. The etchings and lithographs are no less revolutionary today. A trained violinist and musician at heart, Klee was most influenced by colleague Vasily Kandinsky, who urged Klee to join the Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), an expressionist group pivotal to the development of abstract art. This exciting exhibition will run through January 16, 2011.

A self-proclaimed “misfit” in the Indian art world, Owais Husain is to open his latest solo exhibition called Three Worlds at the Tao Art Gallery in south Mumbai on Friday. The surname Husain might sound familiar – Husain’s father, M.F. Husain, is cited as one of the most well-known artists to come out of India, especially celebrated for his provocative religious paintings, which have earned him exile from his own native country. The 94-year-old artist was once described as “the pioneer of post-Independence Indian modern art” but his son is holding his own just fine. Owais Husain’s work is similar to his father’s but markedly different in style and approach, utilizing music, sculpture, and even poetry. A true jack-of-all-trades, Husain is next due to work on an experimental opera and has recently finished directing his first independent film.

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