Wednesday, September 30, 2009

beauty & the beholder: picasso in cathedrale d'images

beauty is in the eye of the beholder...

and there is -my grumblings aside- still a lot of beauty to be discovered in art, and in contemporary art.

for me personally however, i find that i seldom have this breathtaking experience anymore, that i sometimes had when younger, on encountering some (for me) extraordinary piece of art.

not that i have lost the experience altogether, it just has become quite exceptional. so it was a real pleasure to rediscover it at the cathedrale d'images in les baux de provence (south of france), in the light show dedicated to picasso.

the show, taking place all days this year 2009, is displayed inside the completely darkened old bauxite mine, and is accompanied by various pieces of music. it is looped, and takes around 50 minutes from beginning to end. i watched it twice, and i thought it was amazing. on all the walls of the mine as well as on the floors, simultaneously, images are projected, accompanied by very suitable music.

the directors/artists obviously have taken a lot of time to consider how to present and to transform picasso's imagery into a spatial and sensory experience. (they are named on the cathedrale website: gianfranco iannuzzi, renato gatto, massimiliano siccardi and marco melia)

if by chance you are anywhere in the neighborhood, don't miss it!

cathedrale d'images, pablo picasso
(right mouse click `view image' for a better view)

i was taken to the show by the excellent guide barbara dumont, a national tour guide for france and fluent in four languages. warmly recommended.

Monday, September 28, 2009

inside the commercial zone: contemporary art bubble?

last night i saw the documentary the great contemporary art bubble (for a trailer see here on youtube by ben lewis.

lewis tells an interesting story, which clearly touches on many the same issues regarding money & art as this blog.

i'm not in a position to verify, understand or even judge all the financial mechanisms behind contemporary art. what nonetheless becomes clear is that the contemporary art world is obsessed with and dominated by money considerations.

moreover, the picture emerging from the documentary is clear enough:

* we are letting a very small number of people determine what supposedly is `the best' in contemporary art.
* these people include influential gallery holders and museum curators/directors
* another important subgroup are the rich investors and collectors, and the influential auction houses
* the contemporary art market runs in the billions of euros (109=billion)
* society pays along in various ways: by buying art for museums with public money, and through various tax deduction schemes
* there is little objective outside control over the art market
* there are few objective outside quality/reality checks as to whether `the best' in contemporary art is more than just a small group of people's temporary fancy combined with a small group of people's multimillions' worth of financial stakes.


but now the real question: so what? the contemporary art market can hardly be as corrupt as the financial markets, and we couldn't even be bothered about them before the whole thing came crashing down. for any artist out there trying to create her/his own work (as contrasted to the damien hirsts who have studios filled with employees to produce `their' art) my advice would be:

just create, to the best of your ability. let the rich play, and be glad your work is not being treated like a stock commodity, but hangs instead in a normal living room, where it is loved by the people who bought it.


some interesting comments on the documentary can be found here, here (scroll down to `the mugrabis respond to my film') and here.