Takis, TÃ©lÃ©lumiÃ¨re No. 4 (detail), 1963â€“64.
Â©2019 ADAGP, PARIS, AND DACS, LONDON/PHOTO: Â©TATE/ANDREW DUNKLEY AND MARK HEATHCOTE/TATE
On view now at Tate Modern in London is a retrospective for Takis, the Greek sculptor best known for his strange assemblages of magnets and lighting fixtures. With this show in mind, weâ€™ve republished Lawrence Campbellâ€™s review of Takisâ€™s 1963 exhibition at Alexandre Iolas Gallery in New York, which is considered one of the most significant shows that the artist had in his lifetime. In that show, he debuted new sculptures making use of magnets. (Six years later, the artist would remove one of his sculptures from a show at the Museum of Modern Art, an act of protest that echoes in artistsâ€™ decision today to ask for their works to be pulled from the Whitney Biennial.) The review follows below. â€”Alex Greenberger
â€œReviews and previewsâ€By Lawrence CampbellDecember 1963
Takis [at Alexandre Iolas Gallery in New York], Greek-born sculptor, in Paris since 1955, has received considerable attention for his magnetic and kinetic sculptures. He calls these works Telesculptures, Telemagnets and Telephota. The last consist of three separate units wired together: a condenser with an antenna, next a mercury vapor tube in which a light boils like an imprisoned Tinker Bell and which looks like a robot above a Science-Fiction arrangement of wires, coils and other electrical equipment, finally an electro-magnet which cuts on and off and influences the oscillations of cork spheres or other hanging objects enclosing metallic substances, suspended from the ceiling. The telemagnets consist of a painted canvas concealing (except for a telltale bulge) a magnet. Various objectsâ€”metal horns, spheres and cut-out sign-shapes suspended by wires from the ceilingâ€”are held in rigid immobility in the field of the hidden magnet, yet float free from the surface of the canvas itself. There are also several metal oblate spheroids with grooved markings like isobars. The sculptorâ€™s intention is not to create a kind of Dadaist art, nor yet a Tinguely machine, but to demonstrate the esthetic possibilities of an actual magnetic force.
Art Market Data—Including Catalogues Raisonnés—Just Took a Big Leap Forward
Not too long ago, it was possible to attend a prestigious art fair in a global capital where you might find two very similar works of art featured at the booths of two different dealers who might have placed wildly different asking prices on the works. How wild? Try a million dollars difference—or one work…
Not too long ago, it was possible to attend a prestigious art fair in a global capital where you might find two very similar works of art featured at the booths of two different dealers who might have placed wildly different asking prices on the works. How wild? Try a million dollars difference—or one work priced at twice its near twin.
That wasn’t supposed to happen in a world where the art market had supposedly achieved some form of price transparency. Although auction price databases had been the first—and for a very long time, the only—form of transparency and innovation in the art market, this data wasn’t widely or easily accessible. The databases that housed the information either at the auction houses themselves or in the aggregators were built with antiquated technology. In an increasingly interconnected world, price data remained within hard to access silos.
In recent years, the auction houses have made their data more easily discovered through search. This allowed buyers guessing at a fair price for a work of art in a gallery or at an art fair a more accessible independent reference point. That was fine as far as it went but there’s a great deal more to understanding the importance and appeal of a work of art than a few random public auction prices.
“Relying solely on auction prices will only ever give you half of the truth,” says Christian Huhnt who together with Dimitris Hermann spent the last five years building Facture. “To identify the right price for a work you have to see it in context of other works by the artist. One needs to understand the distribution of works in public and private collections and assess the likelihood of those works entering the market. Only by connecting catalogue raisonné data with auction data can you achieve this powerful 360 degree overview.”
To address the fragmentation of catalogues raisonnés and auction prices, Huhnt and Hermann have tried to think two steps ahead. What do dealers and auction house business getters need to do their jobs better that can also be valuable to art advisors and their clients, and even the broader institutional community around museums and public galleries?
The answer comes in the form of Facture, a new service launched this month. Today, Facture combines catalogues raisonnés data for more than 60 of the most traded artists with millions of images and auction prices, museum inventory, and gallery listing sites. This reconciled data can show not only what a work of art sold for at auction, but who owns similar works which, as everyone knows, has an important effect on the value of a painting, sculpture or other type of artwork.
Facture can be searched manually by entering the relevant information about an artist or a work of art. But it can also be searched by image. Upload a picture of a work you are curious about and Facture will return the relevant catalogues raisonnés or auction data. Facture will also allow you to submit a picture from your phone via Whatsapp or Telegram. Facture’s chatbot replies identifying the work and providing its data. This feature is already being used by major auction houses in the US and Europe and the Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Huhnt and Hermann’s goal isn’t simply to cross-reference existing scholarship and auction prices. Their view extends toward the far horizon. The information and data surrounding works of art and the artists who made them is abundant and diverse. Combining auction prices and catalogue raisonné data is just the first step in what Huhnt and Hermann hope will be a broader project. Value in art is undergirded by scholarship. They hope to rethink and reinvent the way catalogues raisonnés are published, edited and used. Art data is notoriously difficult to obtain. But making it accessible is only the first step in building a platform that excites interest in art, educates the market and serves all stakeholders in the art world beyond the market to collectively build a better system for art historical legacy.
Facture is in beta, for now. Users are asked to register and provide a credit card (which will not be charged without the customer’s permission.) Once the service exits beta and moves toward a subscription model, users will be asked to choose a subscription plan based upon their early adopter status.
Storied Curator Diego Cortez Dies, Banksy Tries to Protect Work in Australia, and More: Morning Links for June 22, 2021
To receive Morning Links in your inbox every weekday, sign up for our Breakfast with ARTnews newsletter. The Headlines ‘ANOTHER ONE OF THE GREAT ART WARRIORS IS GONE,’ the actress and Fun Gallery cofounder Patti Astor wrote on Facebook. Diego Cortez, the legendary Downtown Manhattan curator who helped launch the career of Jean-Michel Basquiat, has died, ARTnews reports. A founder of the Mudd Club in Tribeca in 1978, Cortez organized the show “New…
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‘ANOTHER ONE OF THE GREAT ART WARRIORS IS GONE,’ the actress and Fun Gallery cofounder Patti Astor wrote on Facebook. Diego Cortez, the legendary Downtown Manhattan curator who helped launch the career of Jean-Michel Basquiat, has died, ARTnews reports. A founder of the Mudd Club in Tribeca in 1978, Cortez organized the show “New York/New Wave,” of fast-emerging artists, at the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in Queens in 1981, which included Basquiat (billed by his graffiti tag, Samo), Nan Goldin, Keith Haring, Greer Lankton, and many more. It was a sensation, and Basquiat drew particularly praise. “I would not have suspected from Samo’s generally grotty defacements of my neighborhood the graphic and painterly talents revealed here,” the critic Peter Schjeldahl wrote in the Village Voice.
THE ITALIAN POLICE HAVE BEEN BUSY IN RECENT MONTHS. Among their activities: They found a Nazi-looted Poussin in their home country and an ancient Roman sculpture, also looted, in Brussels. Now they have recovered nearly 800 Roman artifacts that were exported illegally from Italy, the Associated Press reports. These, too, were found in Belgium, in Antwerp, in the hands of a collector. The pieces date back more than 2,000 years and are valued at some €11 million (about $13.1 million); many come from tombs in Puglia. (The collector, who fought the confiscations, was not named in the report.) Last but not least, Italian police nabbed an alleged trafficker in rare cacti, the AP reports. “I never imagined there could be a market like this,” an official said.
Arnold Odermatt, a Swiss photographer and policeman who pioneered the use of photos to document accidents, and as evidence, has died at the age of 96. Odermatt enjoyed a late burst of fame when his son Urs, a filmmaker, brought attention to his father’s body of work, of tens of thousands of images, leading the curator Harald Szeemann to include them in the 2001 Venice Biennale. [Swissinfo]
Banksy is attempting to protect two of his most famous works from being used for commercial purposes in Australia, by registering them as trademarks. A similar legal maneuver by the pseudonymous street artist was recently rejected by a European Union court. Some Australian legal experts question whether the plan will work. [The Sydney Morning Herald]
A day before more than 100 works from Swiss billionaire Urs Schwarzenbach’s art collection were to be auctioned to help cover a fine for tax evasion related to importing art, the sale has been called off by authorities. Schwarzenbach reportedly paid CHF 6 million (about $6.53 million) to the government, which says that he still owes millions more. [Tribune de Genève and SwissInfo]
The owner of Soho House, the private clubs favored by so many who work in and around the art industry, is going public. Membership Collective Group, which runs 28 Soho Houses, has filed for an IPO with the New York Stock Exchange. It declared $826 million in debt as of April, which it plans to pay down with proceeds from the stock offering. [Bloomberg]
Critic Christopher Knight blasted J. Seward Johnson II’s Forever Marilyn (2011) sculpture, of a gigantic Marilyn Monroe in a white dress, which was just installed by a business group in Palm Springs, California. It is “adolescent sculptural trash” and a “colossal monument to misogyny,” Knight argues. “Misogyny’s contempt for women is the root of homophobia and transphobia,” he writes. [Los Angeles Times]
An open call is being launched to design a block-long mural for the rather unlovable Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York. It’s part of a $10 billion redevelopment plan that is set to be completed in 2023. [The Art Newspaper]
A DAVID BOWIE PAINTING WAS RECENTLY BOUGHT for about $4 at a Goodwill in Canada, and is currently going for a lot more at an online auction. Now a painting snapped up for $1 at a Goodwill in Cincinnati has generated another surprising story, CBC reports. The buyer of the floral still life did a bit of internet sleuthing and discovered that the work was made by a Frans Van Rosendaal , who disappeared in the late 1960s while piloting a plane in Hawaii. She found his granddaughter and sent along a note. “I figured she would either think I was crazy, or she would be happy,” the buyer said. Spoiler alert: She was quite happy. [CBC]
Thank you for reading. We’ll see you tomorrow.
Ming Smith Photographs Michael Jordan, Women Basketball Players for Nike’s Jordan Brand
Artist Ming Smith, in a recent interview with her gallerist Nicola Vassell, compared her photography technique to a shot in basketball: “The power of anticipation and the patience to wait for what’s coming. It’s like a basketball player hitting three-pointers: practice, repeat, practice, repeat. You get better, and still you’ll miss a few. In photography,…
Artist Ming Smith, in a recent interview with her gallerist Nicola Vassell, compared her photography technique to a shot in basketball: “The power of anticipation and the patience to wait for what’s coming. It’s like a basketball player hitting three-pointers: practice, repeat, practice, repeat. You get better, and still you’ll miss a few. In photography, you have to nail it the moment it’s in the lens. Take the shot when you see it.” In a project tied to the 25th season of the Women’s National Basketball Association, which launched last month at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, Smith had the chance to shoot some of the players hitting those three-pointers.
Earlier this year, with Vassell’s help as creative director, Nike’s Jordan Brand brought on Smith to photograph women members of the Jordan Brand family who, together, represent the largest group of female athletes to be endorsed by Jordan. The photographs include portraits of Minnesota Lynx guard Crystal Dangerfield, New York Liberty guard Kia Nurse, Dallas Wings forward Satou Sabally, L.A. Sparks point guard Te’a Cooper, Dallas wings guard Chelsea Dungee, Los Angeles Sparks guard Arella Guirantes, Minnesota Lynx forward Aerial Powers, Las Vegas Aces forward Dearica Hamby, and Seattle Storm guard Jordin Canada.
Smith is known for the candid, impeccably composed photographs she has been making for over four decades, since she became the first and only female member of Kamoinge, a collective of Black photographers founded by Roy DeCarava. In her photographs for the Jordan shoot, the athletes are shown, both individually and as a group, standing in a field of tall grass, wearing black dresses or black pantsuits. In two of the photos, they flank six-time NBA champion and Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan himself.
Of interacting with the athletes, Smith said she and the shoot’s stylist Carlos Nazario, global fashion director of i-D magazine, “were trying to capture their essence.”
She added, “Empowering images are not stereotypical. Our mothers didn’t have to show huge cleavage, but they were very female. They were women. We are women. So just their beauty is beautiful to me inside and out. It’s the physical and spiritual … the spirit.”
Michael Jordan sees the Jordan Brand family in connection with his racial justice efforts. In early June 2020, shortly after the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests, Jordan announced he would make a $100 million donation to combat racism, which will go to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the Formerly Incarcerated, Convicted Peoples and Families Movement, Black Voters Matter, and other organizations. He said at the time that “Jordan Brand, the Jordan Family and our partners… share a commitment to address the historical inequality that continues to plague Black Communities in the U.S.”
Earlier this spring, Vassell opened her new New York gallery with an exhibition of Smith’s photographs titled “Evidence.” A number of Smith’s images from the Jordan project will be on view at the gallery as the small pop-up exhibition from June 29 through July 3.