Art News Headlines: June 18, 2011

Egon Schiele, Self Portrait with Hands on Chest (1910)

The National Gallery of Victoria today welcomed the opening of “Vienna: Art & Design”, a spectacular display of over 300 extraordinary works by the greatest Viennese artists of the early 20th century. “Vienna: Art & Design” features truly dazzling works by the world-renowned Gustav Klimt including his magnificent portrait Emilie Flöge 1902, alongside the groundbreaking paintings of Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Koloman Moser, and other masters of Viennese modernism. The decorative objects and interior designs of Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop) are also celebrated in this exhibition, which also presents exquisite furniture, divine jewels, silver and ceramic wares in addition to the paintings. The exhibition is exclusive to the National Gallery of Victoria as part of the Melbourne Winter Masterpieces series—it is drawn from two of Vienna’s most important museums, the Belvedere and the Wien Museum, and also includes loans from private lenders and public institutions from all over the world.

Claudio Bravo, Blue Package (1968), oil on canvas, 33.7″ x 57.8″

Claudio Bravo, a Chilean-born artist whose technically stunning trompe-l’oeil paintings of paper-wrapped packages and draped cloth blending hyperrealism and classical Spanish influences, died on June 4 at his home in Morocco. He was 74. David Robinson, the director of his New York gallery, said the cause of death was epilepsy. Mr. Bravo spent a good amount of his life in Madrid, establishing a reputation for himself as a society portrait painter. He went on to make substantial impact with his first New York show at the Staempfli Gallery in 1970. In life, Claudio Bravo also enjoyed ballet and theatre, but pursued painting full-time after he became a sought-after portrait painter.

Douglas Henderson and Greg Merrell ,Doors of No Return: The Remains of Africa’s Slave Castles

The Philbrook Museum of Art in Oklahoma, together with community partner The John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation, is proud to present the exhibition “Doors of No Return: The Remains of Africa’s Slave Castles”, on view through August 7 of this year. In 2010, photographers Douglas Henderson and Greg Merrell documented these historic dungeons scattered along the West coast of Africa. The goal of photographing these sites was not an extensive articulation of the slave trade, but instead to introduce the physical and symbolic poignancy of their presence to audiences that remain unaware of their existence and history. Some 12.5 million Africans passed through these or related portals never to return during the 350-year atrocity of the slave trade, one of the largest forced migration of people in history. “While the slave castle portals serve as poignant metaphors to this dark passage in our history, we hope they will also serve as entryways to understanding and dialogue within our community” says Philbrook director Rand Suffolk.

Louise Bourgeois, Spider Woman (2005), drypoint on custom handmade paper with “LB” watermark, 13.5″ x 13.5″

The James Cohan Gallery in Shanghai presents the exhibition “Louise Bourgeois”, open through August 28 of this year. The exhibition features 33 etching and intaglio works dating from 1999 to 2009 that were printed by the renowned print atelier Harlan & Weaver based in New York City. This exhibition also hallmarks Bourgeois’s long and intensely productive 21-year relationship with master printers Felix Harlan and Carol Weaver, which began in 1989. They continued working together until the artist’s death last year, in May 2010, at the age of 98. Printmaking had always been a central and important part of Bourgeois’ work since the 1940s. Like her sculptures, the subject matter and imagery in her prints are emotionally and psychologically charged and personally emblematic. Recurrent themes of intimate relationships, personal memories, family, childhood and motherhood—and the anxiety of separation and reconciliation inherent to them—appear consistently throughout her works.

A surfing Madonna—yes, you read that right—appeared just before Easter weekend and has been stirring a soulful debate in the Southern California beach town of Encinitas ever since. The striking mosaic of the Virgin of Guadalupe riding a wave was affixed to a wall under a train bridge by artists disguised as construction workers in April. Technically, it is graffiti that should be removed under the law. But the surfing Madonna’s beauty is drawing a mass following, and even city officials who say she must go acknowledge have also fallen under her spell. They have spent thousands to hire an art conservation agency to find the best way to remove the artwork without causing damage. The 10-by-10-foot rock and glass mosaic poses an interesting dilemma over whether a city should spend lots of money to get rid of artwork that is illegal but well done and actually beautifies a place. Deciding what defines graffiti is a growing debate worldwide with guerrilla artists gaining respect in established art circles. A number of museums have brought the street art indoors for prestigious exhibits in recent years, while pieces of illegal art snatched up by dealers have fetched loft sums.


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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