Art News Headlines: June 11, 2011

A giant rubber dragon created for the Venice Biennale by the South African artist Nicholas Hlobo has been purchased by the German collector Jochen Zeitz, who is chairman and chief executive of the sportswear company Puma. The work, which is made of tire inner tubes, is currently installed in the Arsenale at the heart of “Illuminazioni”, the exhibition organized by Bice Curiger. The creature is shown in flight with wings extended and its long tail rolled up in coils behind it. Red ribbons, which have been stitched throughout the dragon’s body, fall down to the ground underneath it. The sculpture was bought for Zeitz by Mark Coetzee, the curator of his personal collection as well as chief curator of Puma Creative, who described it as “the highlight” of the art on display in Venice this week. The dragon will soon go on display in a museum in Africa, although Coetzee declined to give further details. He would also not reveal the price paid for the work but hinted that a sculpture by the artist of similar size would normally sell for around $250,000.

Visitors to Fort Worth’s Kimbell Art Museum exhibition “Picasso and Braque: The Cubist Experiment, 1910–1912 will now be able to use a specially created iPad app to delve more deeply into the Cubist pieces on view, joining a throng of museums and galleries that have recently subscribed to the app sensation. “Advances in digital imaging and the convenience of an iPad provide new ways to look at and understand the processes, relationships, and stylistic developments of the revolutionary art form now known as Analytic Cubism,” commented Eric M. Lee, director of the Kimbell Art Museum. “I’m thrilled that the Kimbell is able to provide this unique opportunity to Museum visitors.” The Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Kimbell have been working with MegaVision, a digital-imaging company based in California, to capture spectral images of chosen pieces in the exhibition. The quality of spectral imaging surpasses that of normal professional photography, and it allows for ultraviolet and infrared, which can reveal features invisible to the human eye. Affectionately titled iCubist, the app was designed specifically for this specific exhibition. It is available free of charge on 40 preloaded iPads.

Also in art news, a team of Egyptian and European archaeologists has unearthed a statue of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III at his funerary temple in Luxor. The 2.5-meter alabaster head of the 18th dynasty king remains intact, Zahi Hawass, antiquities minister, said in a statement last week. Amenhotep III’s rule extended from 1390-1352 B.C. Hawass described the statue’s face as a masterpiece of royal portraiture. It has almond shaped eyes outlined with cosmetic bands, a short nose and a large mouth with wide lips—typical of the stylistic conventions that Egyptian sculptors subscribed to.  There are more surviving statues of Amenhotep III than any other Egyptian pharaoh, with over 250 of them having been discovered and identified thus far. Since these statues span his whole life, they provide a series of portraits covering the entirety of his reign, giving us an extremely accurate perspective on Egyptian life during that time.

Willem de Kooning, February

Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko make up just a few of the legendary 20th-century artists whose famous artworks are now on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in an unprecedented exclusive exhibition. “Abstract Expressionist New York: Masterpieces from The Museum of Modern Art”, on view through September 4, features over 100 works from the unparalleled collection of the MoMA by the legendary artists whose drips, splatters, and depths of incredible color catapulted New York to the center of the international art world in the 1950s and changed the course of art history forever. “Abstract Expressionist New York” is drawn entirely from MoMA’s collection of works by the pioneers of Abstract Expressionism, from its roots in the 1940s through its apex in the 1950s and 1960s. The exhibition features works across a variety of mediums, including painting, sculpture, drawings, and photographs, including 12 era-defining works by Pollock, and multiple works by Rothko, de Kooning, Robert Motherwell, Arshile Gorky, Barnett Newman, Louise Bourgeois, Philip Guston, Adolph Gottlieb, Franz Kline, David Smith, and others.

Acclaimed Australian artist Aelita Andre recently welcomed her first solo exhibition in New York City at the Agora Gallery in Manhattan—an exciting event for anyone to be sure, but especially for a four year old. Wearing a ballerina skirt and a butterfly headband, the young prodigy excitedly welcomed art lovers to the opening of her first solo exhibit called “The Prodigy of Color”. The exhibition is far from child’s play, with Agora Gallery having already sold several of Aelita’s paintings, which range in the thousands. Her vibrant, colorful, abstract works are painted onto huge canvases often with children’s toys and other small objects stuck to them. Aelita’s parents, Michael Andre and Nikka Kalashnikova, both artists themselves, say she has been painting since she was 20 months old. “There’s no education, no understanding of art history or art movements, no intimidation, thinking ‘I’m in the shadow of Picasso or Pollock or something.’ She is completely and utterly innocent, just with an innocent eye almost coming to a canvas,” commented her father Michael.

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.

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