5 Art Happenings to Keep You in the Know

Alekha Engineer of Saffronart keeps you up to date on recent happenings in the art world
If you’re all caught up in FIFA fever and haven’t kept abreast of art, here are five events that would be great conversation starters:

1. A Claude Monet painting, Nympheas, sold for £32 million at an auction in London on Monday, 23rd June. The sale marks the second highest price ever paid for a work by the renowned impressionist painter.

Monet’s Nympheas  Image Credit: BBC News Online , http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-27991977

Monet’s Nympheas
Image Credit: BBC News Online. http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-27991977

2. An original drawing of Tintin, made in 1937 by Herge, the creator of the series, sold for a record 2.65 million euros at an auction in Paris. The 2-page spread intended for the inside covers of Tintin books set a new record price for a comic book strip.

Herge’s original drawing showing some of the easily recognisable panels from the comics Image Credit: Artcurial.com

Herge’s original drawing showing some of the easily recognisable panels from the comics
Image Credit: Artcurial.com

3. Art Basel 2014 closed on Sunday, June 22nd to resoundingly positive reviews. The fair once again proved to be a leader in the industry, with large volumes of sales taking place both during the preview and continuing through the week. This years edition featured two leading Indian contemporary galleries, Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai and Gallery SKE, Bengaluru.

Art Basel 2014 Image Credit: Niels Ackermann for The New York Times

At the opening of Art Basel 2014
Image Credit: Niels Ackermann for The New York Times

4. The Whitney Museum of American Art opened its largest exhibition dedicated to a single artist on Friday, June 27th. ‘Jeff Koons: A Retrospective’ features close to 150 pieces created between 1978 to the present. The show has opened to mix reviews, not surprising as the artist himself is widely lauded but often criticised.

Jeff Koons' Sculpture, "Play-Dough", which took 20 years to complete Image Credit: Fred R.Conrad for The New York Times

Jeff Koons’ sculpture, “Play-Dough”, which took 20 years to complete
Image Credit: Fred R.Conrad for The New York Times

5. The Arts Council England and the BBC re-launched a web platform, The Space. It was initially launched in 2012 as a six-month pilot programme with  live broadcasts and archive footage functioning as an on-demand digital arts service. It is back as a free website for users to explore new art commissioned by the organization. The Space commissions works across genres through open calls and partnerships with new works launched every Friday. Ai Weiwei has lent his support to the initiative, donating his personal data for use at the sites inaugural event, ‘Hack the Space’, held on June 13 and 14 at the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern. The world-renowned artist gave the names of over 5000 children and young people who died in 2008’s Sichuan earthquake in China, after the government refused to release the names.

“Hack the Space” at the Tate Modern Image Credit: David Parry/PA, theguardian.com

“Hack the Space” at the Tate Modern
Image Credit: David Parry/PA, theguardian.com

Gangnam for Freedom – Anish Kapoor and Friends (Official Video)

Nishad Avari of Saffronart on the release of Anish Kapoor’s take on ‘Gangnam Style’

Mumbai: A few days ago, we posted about the highly anticipated release of Anish Kapoor’s music video supporting the freedom of expression in general, and Chinese contemporary artist, Ai Weiwei in particular. Well, the video is finally out!

So here’s Kapoor and several of his high profile friends in the parody video, Gangnam for Freedom, hot off the press. Or should we say edit suite? Don’t miss cameos by museum staff from the Guggenheim, MoMA , Hirschorn, LACMA, Whitney, Serpentine and more!

Kapoor Style: Anish Kapoor to Parody Gangnam Style in Support of Ai Weiwei

Amy Lin of Saffronart explores what is sure to be the next big viral video: Anish Kapoor’s Gangnam Style

In the coming week, a video that we believe will instantly go viral is Anish Kapoor’s Gangnam Style. Jumping on the parody wagon, renowned British Indian artist Anish Kapoor is filming his version of the South Korean internet sensation by Psy to support Ai Weiwei and free speech. When Weiwei was detained by the Chinese government for more than two months last year, Kapoor participated in a campaign to free him. Censorship has always been an issue in art and we recently covered the topic here.

Anish Kapoor and co. rehearsing for Gangnam Style video
Image Credit: London Evening Standard

Many of you may recall watching Ai Weiwei sporting a hot pink shirt while dancing to Gangnam Style with his entourage in his own version of the video. Weiwei also brandishes handcuffs in a cowboy-esque fashion and cuffs himself to a friend at some point in defiance to his arrest last year. Perhaps the most subversive part of the video is its title, ‘Caonima Style’. Caonima literally translates as “grass mud horse” but sounds like an obscene profanity in Mandarin that we cannot repeat, but is explained here. This term has become an internet meme, and has been used in recent years to subvert censorship in China with its dual meaning as a ridiculously cute mythical alpaca and a cringe-worthy swear. Such duality has been a theme in Weiwei’s art. If you’ve missed this epic video, you can watch it here:

Kapoor’s parody was shot in his studio and features an army of artists. The overwhelming cast has over 250 participants and features big names such as dancer Deborah Bull, designer Wayne Hemingway, and artist Mark Wallinger, among many others. The dance is choreographed by British Bangladeshi artist Akram Khan who participated in the London Olympic opening ceremonies. I personally hope Mr. Kapoor will sprinkle a dash of Bollywood flair in his video.

Artists are occupying Kapoor’s Clamberwell studio while practicing the steps in handcuffs in what looks like an epic cross between Gangnam Style and Jailhouse Rock. Kapoor is overjoyed by the support. “It’s extraordinary, the support we’ve had,” he said. “Even people who can’t be here are sending footage of themselves doing the dance.” On a side note, he added, the video will be “bonkers” and we will act like a village of “idiots.”

Rehearsing in Anish Kapoor’s SE London studio
Image Credit: London Evening Standard

Former Royal Ballet dancer Deborah Bull sums up the message, “Art speaks to people in a way regimes find hard to understand. It communicates at a level that makes it hard to control. You can control actions but not emotions.” When asked if the video will bypass Chinese censorship, Kapoor replied confidently, “With most issues there’s a certain tipping point. If enough people are interested we’ll get it to China too. I’ve a feeling governments are incapable of stopping it.” While Weiwei’s video may have only been some studio fun, Kapoor is cementing it with a deeper political purpose by recruiting artists and activists to spread the message.

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