Art News Headlines: November 11, 2010

Roy Lichtenstein “Ohhh… Alright...”

Esteemed auction house Christie’s made history on Wednesday by selling a painting by Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein for $42,642,500—the highest price ever fetched for any work by the artist. Highly anticipated masterpiece Ohhh…Alright… was completed in 1964—with a pouting redhead, it perfectly showcases the cast of iconic dream-girls that Lichtenstein painted in the early 1960s. The work was sold to an anonymous bidder over the phone. Ohhh…Alright… is painted in Lichtenstein’s traditional Ben-Day dot technique, characterizing the artist’s fascination with commercial printing and reproduction, modeling the canons of the Pop Art movement. As with all of Lichtenstein’s iconic images, Ohhh…Alright… is at once striking and subtly humorous. The previous record for a work by Roy Lichtenstein was $16,256,000 for In the Car, sold at Christie’s New York in November of 2005.

Egypt’s larger-than-life antiquities chief Zahi Hawass is seeking to return Egyptian treasures scattered in museums all over the world to what he says is their rightful home. In an increasingly public campaign, Dr. Hawass is lobbying international museums to return some of Egypt’s most important archaeological artifacts, for a massive new museum currently under construction. Among the objects sought are the Rosetta Stone, displayed for more than 200 years in the British Museum, and the Zodiac of Dendera, housed in the Louvre in Paris. In an interview, Dr. Hawass commented, “I’m going to fight. I’m going to go and tell the world that these countries have no right to these antiquities.” He has already seen some success. The Metropolitan Museum in New York recently returned 19 items, including small statues taken from the excavation of King Tutankhamen’s tomb, housed in the museum for decades. It remains to be seen if the likes of the Louvre will follow suit.

Huntress with Buck

In other art news, the winner of the coveted Taylor Wessing Photographic Prize 2010 has finally been announced. Huntress with Buck by David Chancellor has claimed the winning spot, featuring 14-year-old Josie Slaughter from Alabama on her first hunting trip to South Africa. Chancellor comments, “Josie had hunted her buck earlier in the day and was returning to camp. As we arrived, the sun set below the cloud cover, and I had almost unreal light for around a minute. The contrast between the peace and tranquility of the location, plus Josie’s ethereal beauty and the dead buck, was what I wanted to explore. Here was a vulnerability and yet also a strength.” The £12,000 award was presented to the photographer at the National Portrait Gallery in London on Tuesday. Currently based in both London and Cape Town, Chancellor shoots documentary reportage and portraiture for a variety of clients, and regularly works on projects for private organizations.

La Sagrada Familia

For decades, tourists have visited the twisting spires of Barcelona’s iconic La Sagrada Familia church, but up until now, it’s just been a pretty building to look at due to unfinished construction. Now, 128 years after the building project began, Catholics will finally be able to worship there for the first time this Sunday. The Pope recently consecrated the church, the brainchild of Spanish artist Antoni Gaudi, as a basilica in Barcelona. He sprinkled holy water on the altar before a congregation of almost 7,000 people. Although the church will not be finished until around 2026, current chief architects hope that the Pope’s recognition will provide the boost needed to finish the arduous process. La Sagrada Familia is currently funded by private donations and visitors’ fees. Following the consecration, the main nave is now open for daily Mass for the first time.

The late fashion designer Alexander McQueen will be the featured artist this spring at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The exhibition, entitled “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,” will run May 4 through July 31, 2011. It will celebrate McQueen’s work from his Central Saint Martins postgraduate collection in 1992 to his final runway show, which took place after his death last February—over 100 pieces in total. “Alexander McQueen was best known for his astonishing and extravagant runway presentations, which were given dramatic scenarios and narrative structures that suggested avant-garde installation and performance art,” Andrew Bolton, the Curator of The Costume Institute, said in a press statement. McQueen’s designs often referenced the exaggerated silhouettes of the late 1800s and the 1950s, but his technical prowess consistently fueled the designs with an innovation sensibility that cemented him at the vanguard.

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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