Peter W. Kimmel was born in 1958 in Linz, Austria, and began his career as the manager of a bodybuilding centre, where he learnt to use efficiently his strengths and abilities. After seven years he gave up his share in the business in order to meet up to a new challenge.
PARIS — FIAC, the vaunted French fair, is having a limelight moment. Anticipation is high for the launch of its Los Angeles edition, in the spring of 2015 — perhaps this explains why so many of the dealers and collectors I’ve run into said they had skipped last week’s Frieze Art Fair in London and came to Paris instead.
Like Paris itself, the 41st edition of FIAC is all elegance and ease. Below the soaring glass ceiling of the Grand Palais one finds a decidedly serious fair, with none of the carnivalesque booths, Godzilla-sized sculptures, and flashy come-ons so common in Miami, London, or New York. When entire booths beckon here, it’s with a seductive allure.
Arguably the loudest is Tornabuoni Art’s, where everything on view is red, from several Lucio Fontana “Concetto spaziale” slit paintings to Enrico Castellani’s “Dittico rosso,” from 1963, to Alighiero Boetti’s early “Rosso Gilera, Rosso Guzzi,” 1971. However, the gem here is the diamond-shaped work made of red PVC strips, “Dinamica romboidale,” 1976, by Alberto Biasi.
Gavin Brown’s Enterprise sings out to passersby at a similar volume, through the punk discord of Spencer Sweeney’s paintings, which fill the booth. Two large neon smile paintings are presented on heavy easels, an appropriate device in this city, since Abstract Expressionism was said to have killed easel painting in the ’50s, when New York eclipsed Paris as the center of the art world. Now, due to the proliferation of fairs, no center can be said to exist, but this roving state has brought back painting with a vengeance. Indeed, as at other fairs these days, there is almost no video and few works that can be called difficult. It’s an acrylic world. And David Kordansky seems to know how to thrive in it. His spare booth offers just three large canvases, all by Jon Pestoni, and it looks fantastic — as is evidenced by the crowds gawking within. Who knew a simple arrangement of strong paintings could be such a draw?
Yet there are not-to-be-missed pieces throughout the fair hidden in nooks one needs to search out. For instance, all the pieces brought by Galerie Hans Meyer are tucked away in the interior of the Annely Juda booth. The visitor who finds it is watched by the eyeballs projected onto white spheres in Tony Oursler’s video installation “Loci/Foci,” sitting on the floor by a large Robert Longo drawing of quarterback Dan Marino’s jersey. Hanging adjacent is a magnificent TV sculpture by the late Nam June Paik, “Venus” from 1990, in which TV monitors circle a large painted aluminum disk that features windows revealing other TVs.
More often than not the galleries here simply bring together a number of excellent pieces and then rely on the sharp eyes of fair goers to recognize the glow of quality coming off them. Thus Skarstedt gathers, among other things, a Rosemarie Trockel black yarn painting, a large Warhol drawing of an Indian chief, and Mike Kelley’s wonderful “Memory Ware Flat No. 10,” 2001, a “painting” encrusted with hundreds of small knickknacks.
Upstairs in the Level 1 area reserved for younger contemporary galleries, Miguel Abreu has a quietly stand-out booth, mixing a Liz Deschenes with wall pieces that play on a grid theme by Sam Lewitt and several small works, including “E. Willard’s Temple of Time,” a painting on wood of a classical structure, by R. H. Quaytman. Across the way, Office Baroque brought a suite of works by Matthew Brannon. Aside from a few of his signature unique letterpress prints, there are what the artist calls graphic paintings, new works painted on canvas that play on common ideas of Paris. The style is recognizably Brannon’s: hard-edged abstract forms, blocks of color, and bon mots. One, “Ask me Again,” juxtaposes a Chinese restaurant menu with the cover of Jacques Derrida’s “Writing and Difference”.
The conjunction of food and philosophy pops up again in Roman Ondak’s “Seated Table,” on which kitchen implements and comestibles labeled Hegel, Foucault, and Locke rest. The work, brought by Johnen Galerie, is one of many beguiling, beautiful, or merely remarkable single pieces to be rooted out by careful observers. Do root out the others. Karl Haendel’s drawing of Mikhail Gorbachev in an odd-shaped frame features in a painted wall at Sommer Contemporary and so is easily spotted, as is Jumana Manna’s “Xylophone (To Robert Lachmann),” a wood-slat semicircle with plaster jugs attached that occupies the front of the CRG gallery booth. Not so the two magical pieces by Eloise Hawser at VI, VII of Oslo, for one looks like an ordinary pair of green shoes and the other like a lump of folded and discarded metal in a corner.
You might stop to admire the group of tiny Francis Alys drawings on paper scraps taped to a window at Dvir Gallery. If you do, look through the window too to spot the amusing departure-sign sculpture by Shilpa Gupta on the far wall. Or wander about on your own treasure hunt — at FIAC you’re sure to turn up a few glittering ingots.
Chuck Close made his name in large-scale portraiture, from photo-real paintings to faces composed of his signature grid-based color patterns — and, in later years, photography, printmaking, and even tapestry. Active for almost 50 years, he still produces and exhibits prodigiously, with a his first major solo exhibition in Australia at the Museum of Contemporary Art opening on November 20 and an exhibition of his photographs, including a series taken for Vanity Fair, on view in Southampton in April 2015. Most recently, however, Close has taken an active role in Artists for Peace and Justice, a non-profit founded by film director Paul Haggis that provides aid to Haiti in the form of education, healthcare, and the arts. The organization’s latest event, “Fierce Creativity,” is a four-day benefit art sale that will be up at Pace Gallery’s 57th Street location from October 22 through 25. Together with co-curator and photographer Jessica Craig-Martin, Close helped select the 45 contributing artists, each of whom set the price for his or her own piece on the condition that 100 percent of the profits would go to Artists for Peace and Justice. ARTINFO caught up with Close the week before the sale to discuss his involvement with the organization, his interest in foreign aid, and the importance of arts education.
How did you become involved with “Fierce Creativity,” and what drew you to the project?
For the past couple of years, I contributed works, but I didn’t really know much about it — I contribute to a lot of things. Then, I got to know Paul [Haggis], and when they started telling me what they were doing, I said, “Oh, well I’d really like to do more than just give a piece.” I told them that I wouldn’t do an auction, because auctions are bad for artists; if a thing doesn’t sell well, it’s embarrassing. Nobody should ever have to watch their work up for auction. I said a long time ago that an artist going to an auction is like taking a cow on a guided tour of a slaughterhouse. You know this thing is going on but you don’t want to see it. So I said, “OK, yes, we’ll do it as a sale, and if at the end of the week it’s not sold, the thing is returned to the artist, and nobody is publically humiliated.” So that’s really the condition that I set for my involvement.
Had you worked with your co-curator, Jessica Craig-Martin, beforehand?
Jessica has been involved — she did it the year before. She knows a lot of the younger artists and the European artists, and I know a bunch of old farts, so that’s my contribution. She had all the young, hip people.
Are there young artists whose work you do follow at the moment?
Yeah, I look at a lot of younger artists’ work; there are people that Jessica picked whose work I like a lot. The thing is that the person who goes to the artist and convinces them to give tends to be someone of their own generation — someone they know personally. It’s much better that I talk to people who are my friends and my generation and she deals with hers. She was able to get Damien Hirst.
How did you choose the work that you donated for this sale — the tapestry self-portrait?
I wanted to give something that was unique. I haven’t made a drawing in 20 years, and I don’t have any paintings available, so I could do a tapestry and only make one unique piece instead of an edition of three. You know, a lot of people don’t want something unless it’s unique. If somebody plunks down big bucks, a major chunk of cash, they don’t want to go to someone else’s house and find the same piece hanging there. I normally don’t care — I’ll keep the prices lower and have more of them. But in this case, I really wanted to come up with something that could justify a higher sales price.
And how did you choose the other artworks?
I called in some friends and, you know, stood on ’em a little bit and made it hard for them to say no. But a surprising number of people had no trouble saying no, and some of their dealers said no, which I thought was interesting. But I would say 80 percent of the people I’ve asked have given.
[Artists are] very generous, but you hit the wall after a while. I probably give 12 or 15 pieces away a year to charities, and it can really add up. I give away what amounts to like 20 percent of my income, sometimes more. As a kid, I was raised in the church, and we tithed 10 percent of our income, and my mother had nothing. I look back and I say, “Oh my God, I’m tithing 20 percent,” you know? But this is for something I believe in, and I didn’t believe in the church, so it makes it easier.
Artists for Peace and Justice is touted as presenting a “different model” for an arts charity — how so?
We have impact on the lives of young people going to school, who otherwise might finish grade school but would not go on to what we would call middle school or high school. Not only are we helping these kids, we find local Haitian architects and local Haitian contractor-builders, and they hire all Haitian teachers and administrators, so we’re helping on many different levels. And we have organizations that cover our administrative costs, so nothing comes out of the money that we raise — one hundred percent of it goes to the kids.
The thing is that most of the charities in Haiti are pretty corrupt, and the money gets skimmed off by someone else or the political figures take their cut. Ours is the only organization that really guarantees that all our money goes where it’s supposed to go. They’re providing the always-free public high school and the always-free university, including building the buildings and paying for the staff. In a country which has very little fortune to look forward to in terms of things that we would take for granted — opportunities to advance oneself — these kids may want to do all the right things, and there’s no way for them to do it. What you want, ideally, I think, in a society, is for those people who are serious and work hard and have ambitions to have an opportunity to do what they want to do.
Did your own experience with education have any influence on your decision to fund an education charity?
Well, you know, I’m very old, and when I went to school in the ’40s and ’50s, I lived in a very poor mill town in the state of Washington, and we had art and music every day as a guaranteed right, from kindergarten through high school. And had I not had that, I would have dropped out of school, because I wasn’t good at anything else. So I look at what was available to me as a poor, working class kid and how it saved my life, and I want to offer the same opportunity to young Haitians that was available to me.
It’s a problem right now in the United States that the first thing to go is art and music. Every child should have something to do that makes them feel special. And if you’re not good at reading, writing, arithmetic, you’d better have something else. I’m working with the president; we’re putting art back into public schools, seeing if you can take a failing school, a lowest-performing school in an at-risk community, and turn it around through art and music. In fact, it’s called Turnaround Arts — and it was my experience working with them that cemented my desire to do it in Haiti and other places around the world.
— Protecting Hong Kong Protest Art: As democracy protests in Hong Kong stretch into their fourth week, more and more street art is being generated in the main camp (which NPR dubs the “Woodstock on the South China Sea”). Local museums, however, have refused to be proactive in helping preserve the works — which range from posters to sculpture — leading supporters to fear that the police may destroy them while clearing out protest sites. “This is the largest social movement Hong Kong has seen and now the most urgent [matter] is to rescue these objects for future research,” said artist Wen Yau. [South China Morning Post, NPR]
— Art Basel’s College Class: In conjunction with London’s Central St. Martins School, Art Basel will launch Hong Kong’s first course in art collecting at the HKU SPACE Centre for Degree Programmes next March. “As the art world becomes larger and people become more serious about collecting, it is important to discuss the ground rules — and the responsibilities that come alongside,” said Art Basel director Marc Spiegler. Titled “Collecting Contemporary Art,” the eight-day intensive will culminate, fittingly, in a tour of Art Basel Hong Kong. [TAN]
— Kevin Rudd Heads the Asia Society Policy Institute: Kevin Rudd, Australia’s former prime minister, has been appointed to lead the Asia Society’s latest initiative: the Asia Society Policy Institute, described as “a new kind of think tank on the rise of Asia,” based in New York and Washington. Rudd explained that he was attracted to the post because the institute promises to be “not just a think tank but a think-do tank — the do part is how we add value.” [NYT]
— Guggenheim Helsinki Designs Submitted: In anticipation of the forthcoming Guggenheim Helsinki, the Manhattan museum has made the first round of designs for its new location available to view online; the shortlist will be announced on December 2, and the winner will be chosen in June 2015. [Press release]
— Jim Chanos Disses the Art World: Hedge fund manager Jim Chanos called the art world “socially acceptable conspicuous consumption,” adding, “I think it’s a market that studies have shown correlates more with income inequality than general economic growth.” [Art Market Monitor]
— “#Sandy” Photographs Published: iPhone photographs of Hurricane Sandy helped raise $19,000 when shown at Foley Gallery in 2012, and now, those photos are poised to become a book, titled “#Sandy,” on the two-year anniversary of the storm. [Art Daily]
— “I want this experience like anybody else. I am part of the problem.” – Marina Abramovic on participating in the sensory deprivation of her upcoming show at Sean Kelly Gallery [ARTnews]
— According to census data, most people who make a living from their art are white. [Washington Post]
— Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Museum announced its first expansion in 50 years. [TAN]
You really don’t need to sleep: post-Frieze and pre-FIAC, why not ride the high-speed Eurostar to Brussels and take in these exhibitions?
Mark Leckey at WIELS, through January 1, 2015, Av. Van Volxemlaan 354 A noisy, confounding, chockablock extravaganza, “Lending Enchantment to Vulgar Materials” incorporates sculpture, video, appropriation, enormous Felix the Cat inflatables, droning sound-systems, and much more. There are videos of faux-conferences the artist has given, like “In The Long Tail,” a brilliant, oblique satire of Wired magazine honcho Chris Anderson’s “long tail theory” that also sends up the entire TED Talk aesthetic in general. Leckey scrambles historical eras (and the division between authentic and fake), and satirizes himself and the art world without ever seeming to be anything but enamored with the creative potentials of both.
Ayan Farah at Almine Rech Gallery, through November 12 (Abdijstraat 20 rue de l’Abbaye) These abstract paintings made using mud, clay, and the effects of rainwater conjure different imagery, from bleached or tie-dye-style stains to curliques of smoke. Sometimes the sewn-together compositions are as graceful and subtle as Agnes Martin, but Farah also isn’t afraid to let the field of raw, muted color be interrupted by what appear to be tire tracks. In an adjoining gallery, Piero Golia provides a nice and artificial counterbalance to Farah’s incorporation of the natural world, showing a series of enormous painted-foam works that resemble sci-fi space rocks.
Lesley Vance at Xavier Hufkins, through November 15 (6 rue St-Georges) The American artist is a master of graceful swoops and streaks, pushing and pulling paint to create abstract still life scenarios. A series of new oil-on-canvas works from 2014 are complemented by a handful of watercolor-and-gouache studies.
Filip Gilissen at Meessen De Clercq, through October 25 (2a Rue de l’Abbaye) You enter a portal covered with cheap, gold-colored filament, then find yourself disoriented in a darkened chamber full of the stuff. Muddle your way deeper through the party-store strands and emerge in a strange, circular room, where an enormous golden rack of T-shirts awaits, each one bearing the words “Just Keep Living.” This young artist manages to stage a minor spectacle with very modest materials (but do try not to get lost). Elsewhere in the gallery are solo presentations of sculptural work that recontextualize ordinary things: Coins; smartphone SIM cards (Tania Perez Cordova); Katinka Bock (a trio of lemons resting on a metal beam).
Elaine Cameron-Weir and Aleksander Hardashnakov at Galerie Rodolphe Hanssen, through October 25 (Rue de Livourne 35 Livornostraat) Canadian-born, Brooklyn-based Cameron-Weir showcases bronze sculptures of Fruit Salad plants (bearing the wonderful technical name of Monstera Deliciosas), the bright metal stalks rising from uneven, rough-hewn hunks of marble. Hardashnakov’s small group of mixed-media paintings are also oddly stunning: Quick, sketchy compositions (sexualized horse-people; a young boy with a fox; a duck nearly subsumed by a black background) are paired with larger works whose framing devices are totally out of whack, like “Dead Elephant in the back of a truck,” 2014, a small graphite drawing of the titular subject tacked to an enormous bare wood panel.
Dominic Samsworth at Mon Chéri, through November 8 (67 Rue de La Regence) Barebones abstraction crashes up against a world of idle leisure, with shaped canvases depicting the geometry of pools (made using pool paint) arrayed around a massive sculpture: Recreational furniture shrink-wrapped in a white plastic skin, resembling a bleached, beached whale left to die.
Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is heading to North Carolina next week to campaign with Republican Senate nominee Thom Tillis, CNN has learned. This comes as GOP officials believe Tillis, the North Carolina House Speaker, has closed the gap in his race against endangered incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan.