BgArt News Blog
Friday, June 30, 2006
  Most Expensive Painting Ever
There has been a lot of news around about the most expensive painting ever to be sold recently, so I thought I would go see what people have been saying about it.
For those that didn't hear, a Gustav Klimt painting sold to Ronald S Lauder for about $135 million (American dollars).

The Spiegel in Germany called it the "Mona Lisa for America"..
Is Adele worth its record price of $135 million? Only three years ago, the last top-selling Klimt managed to fetch all of $29 million. Norman Rosenthal, chief curator of the London Royal Academy of Arts, calls Adele "an icon of a specific, important epoch in art history" and believes the price is justified. But, he adds, "art is like gold; one has to believe in its value." Spiegel

A columnist at the Guardian in the UK thinks the value may be in the gold on the painting..
There are experts and there are art experts. Experts I admire. Art experts are mostly fruitcakes. I was therefore on raisin watch this week when Gustav Klimt's gold-encrusted Adele Bloch-Bauer I was declared to be "worth more" than the £73m world record it had just fetched. Worth more what? Surely not money. Was it the value of the gold if you scraped it off? Guardian

While another writer at the Guardian thinks the painting could be worth more..
The reason his 1907 Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I is worth so much is not the gold that dazzles and dissolves in the painting's mysteriously unanchored visual field, or the striking long features and hands of the sitter. It is that this is a piece of real estate in an invisible city, a chunk of the vanished Vienna before the two world wars that tore the life out of it. The very reason such a prime painting has come to auction is that it was successfully claimed by the heirs of the rightful owner, from whom it was looted by Hermann Goering in 1938. It is a glittering fragment of a cruel century whose madness Klimt was one of the first to see coming. Guardian

And Bloomberg says there could be more impressive prices paid for Gustav Klimt paintings this year..
Richard L. Feigen, a New York dealer, values the remaining works by Austria's most famous artist at $130 million to $140 million. He puts the 1912 portrait, showing Bloch-Bauer in a long dress and hat, at about $60 million, and the landscapes, 1903's 'Buchenwald/Birkenwald,'' 1912's 'Apfelbaum I'' and 1916's 'Hauser in Unterach am Attersee,'' featuring birches, apple trees and houses, at $18 million, $25 million and $30 million, respectively. "But they may go higher,'' said Feigen, an expert on 20th- century art. 'There's a tremendous amount of money out there looking for ever-decreasing supplies.'' Bloomberg

I personally don't have an opinion either way. If it gets people thinking about art it's probably a good thing, but I do think about the good that $135 million could do. We should value great paintings highly, but more because they are great paintings and not because a wealthy art collector paid a lot of money for it.

>> Famous Artists, Klimt Painting Post, Art Collecting
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
  Replacing a Dead Shark
The physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone livingI know I've been accused of mentioning Damien Hirst too much, and his work doesn't please everyone, but he keeps making the news and a lot of it is worth mentioning. He brings up issues that should be talked about.
Perhaps his most famous work (The physical impossibility of death in the mind of someone living) will soon be replaced with a new dead shark. The work was made in 1991 and is already falling apart, the liquid is murky, and the shark has changed shape.
The American hedge fund manager Steve Cohen paid about 6.5 million pounds for the Hirst work in 2004 and is now in discussions with Damien Hirst to have the shark completely replaced.
It makes one think about contemporary art differently. Does it really matter if the shark is replaced? Will it become just a copy of the original? What about the Wrath of God?

Damien Hirst in talks to replace rotting shark
Speaking to The Art Newspaper, the dealer Larry Gagosian said: “The shark is a conceptual piece and to substitute a shark of equal size and appearance, in my opinion, does not alter the piece. Steve Cohen is very happy with the piece and is not troubled at all with having to substitute it. It’s not a direct analogy but if you have a work by Dan Flavin and one of the lights goes out and you substitute it, it doesn't matter. It doesn't affect the significance of the piece, or the value of the piece.” ArtNewspaper
>> Art Collecting, Damien Hirst, Controversies
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
  Vincent van Gogh Quotes
I got lost in a bunch of quotation sites today, so I picked out some of my favorite Van Gogh quotes. Whenever I read a book I always underline (if I own the book) or write down (if I borrowed the book) quotations that interest me. They're always great for inspiration when things get tough in the studio.

Anyway, here's some classic Vincent..

>> Vincent van Gogh News

Friday, June 23, 2006
  Andy Warhol Wig
andy warhol wigAn Andy Warhol wig has sold for $10,800 at a recent film and entertainment auction by Christie's. The silver mop that was worn by Warhol also came with three pieces of toupee tape still stuck inside it.

Warhol's Silver Wig Sells for $10,800
"It was one of several lots put up at Christie's auction house by Jeffrey Warhola, the artist's nephew. A 1977 Polaroid photo of Muhammad Ali, signed by Warhol, sold for $19,200. And a Warhol Polaroid of Mick Jagger from 1975 went for $15,600." Washington Post
>> Andy Warhol, Art Auctions, Weird Art News
Thursday, June 22, 2006
  Money Paintings - Euro Series
anthony whiteThe Australian artist Anthony White has started work on the Euro series of paintings. After the success of his USD, AUD, and Pound series of money, he expects similar interest in the Euros series.

He hasn't officially launched the series yet, but reservations can be put on works. He talked more about his money paintings in our interview recently, but it basically works like this;
Each painting is sold for the value that is painted on it (11 Euro costs 11 Euro to buy), only one of each number is painted, numbers are painted in order, and can only be purchased when he gets up to the number. Paintings can be reserved, but you have to wait until the paintings before your number are painted and sold.

I've reserved the 7 Euros, which makes me pretty lucky I guess, as the first 40 Euros seem to be mostly reserved already. Anthony says the Euro money paintings series will be officially launched on the first of July.
>> Contemporary Artists, Australian Art News, Paintings News
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
  YBA to Middle Aged Businessman
damien hirst exhibitionAt the Gagosian Gallery in London there is an exhibition by the once "Young British Artist", now middle-aged art mogul, Damien Hirst. He is showing a variety of works from different periods of his career.

Here's part of the Press Release from the Gagosian Gallery..
Gagosian Gallery is pleased to announce an exhibition of works by Damien Hirst. Included in the exhibition is the seminal vitrine, A Thousand Years (1990), and four triptychs: paintings, medicine cabinets and a new formaldehyde work entitled The Tranquility of Solitude (For George Dyer), influenced by Francis Bacon.

There's also a good article over at the Guardian about Hirst and his exhibition..
You can only go down
"..despite his army, his stately home in Gloucestershire, his land in Mexico, his properties in Lambeth and Devon, his art's seemingly unassailable market value and his sheer celebrity, he does not feel safe. There's Hirst's old friend, fear of death, to contend with. And then there is all that money - burdensome, bringer of both responsibility and distraction, horribly fragile. "The whole thing could fall apart with a war," he says. "I always think it can be taken away from you at any moment. People talk about safe investments, but Lloyd's Bank could collapse. Banks have collapsed in our lifetime." Guardian
>> Art Exhibitions, Damien Hirst News
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
  Most Expensive Painting by Gustav Klimt
most expensive paintingThe famous Austrian painter Gustav Klimt has reportedly set a record for the most expensive painting to be sold. The 1907 iconic work "Portrait of Adele Block-Bauer I" has sold for $135 million dollars.
The billionaire cosmetics heir to the Estée Lauder fortune, Ronald S Lauder snapped the painting up to be exhibited in a museum in New York.
The painting was stolen by the Nazis in 1938 from the aunt and uncle of Maria Altmann. Maria only recently became the owner of the painting this year after reclaiming it. The work had been hanging in the National Gallery of Austria for the past 60 years.

Billionaire's Museum Pays 'Record' For Painting
"It was important to the heirs and to my Aunt Adele that her painting be displayed in a museum," Altmann said in a publicized statement after the sale. "We chose a museum that is a bridge between Europe and the United States." Forbes
>> Art Collecting, Auctions, Famous Artists
Sunday, June 18, 2006
  Plinth Mistaken for Sculpture
I've heard of art being mistaken for rubbish and thrown away, but a plinth being mistaken for a piece of scuplture is new to me.
The Royal Academy thought that the artist David Hensel submitted two works to show, but it was actually a head and a plinth. They preferred the plinth, and have put it on display, while the sculpted head was left out.

Royal Academy's preference for plinth over sculpture leaves artist baffled
"On a trip to see his work in situ, he came across the slate slab and the tiny piece of wood that supported the sculpture, but the macabre countenance was nowhere to be seen. That, the Royal Academy said, was because the artist had submitted the two components separately and the judges had simply preferred the plinth to the head." Guardian
>> Weird Art News
Saturday, June 17, 2006
  Art Basel 37
Art 37 Basel is well under way, and attracting plenty of media attention. It runs from the 14th through to the 18th of June and features 300 leading art galleries from all around the world, exhibiting 2000 artists, and will be visited by more than 55000 people.
It's located on the river Rhine, where Switzerland France and Germany meet. See more about exhibitors and artists at the official Art Basel 37 site. is covering the international art event pretty extensively with regular Art Basel updates..

>> Art Exhibitions

Friday, June 16, 2006
  Art Collector Kenneth Thomson
With the recent death of Kenneth Thomson, people are talking about how it could impact the Canadian art market.
Kenneth Roy Thomson was Canada's richest man and a very active art collector. The former chairman of Thomson Corp. apparently died of a heart attack in his office on Monday the 12th.
He was an important benefactor of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Canada and one of North America's biggest collectors of art. He collected works from the "Group of Seven" painters, Canadian artists, and important European works. One of his most notable recent purchases was "The Massacre of the Innocents" by Peter Paul Rubens, which he purchased at a Sotheby's auction in 2002 for $77 million.
With Thomson gone, will art market stay bullish?
""My gut reaction is that it could have a serious impact at the very high end of the market, which in itself might also impact the lower end of the market. If the pieces that people were expecting to go for $1.5-million or $2-million now start going for $500,000 or $600,000, what does that do to the pieces going for $50,000 to $100,000?" Westbridge said. "If nobody is going to replace him, then I think prices might well step back a little bit." Globe and Mail
>> Obituaries, Art Collecting
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
  Guernica and Picasso
guernica by pablo picassoThere's an interesting article over at the New Yorker by Peter Schjeldahl about Picasso and his famous painting, Guernica.
Spanish Lessons
"Simply, no other work of a bloody century so successfully.. that is, to a lesser degree of failure.. apostrophizes the character of total war. If the emotionally devastating Goya and even the eerily detached Manet are far superior in conjuring lived horror, with flowing blood and choking gun smoke, it’s because they belonged to times when organized violence could still be convincingly registered in specific detail, at human scale, and painting had not yet lost its grip on external reality to photography and on historical fiction to the movies." New Yorker

The Guernica painting that is currently on display at the Reina Sofia Art Centre Museum in Madrid is also wanted by Basque nationalists. After putting down their weapons and seeking peace, they are now seeking to have the masterpiece moved to the Basque region.
>> Guernica, Pablo Picasso News
Sunday, June 11, 2006
  Self Absorbed Geniuses
There's an exhibition opening later this month at the National Gallery in London called Rebels and Matyrs. The theme is a common one that artists sometimes use to their own advantage. Promoting themselves as the outsider or the misunderstood genius.
The exhibition includes artists from Romanticism through to the 20th century; Delacroix, Courbet, Manet, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Rodin, Picasso and Schiele.
Some created their own myths and some were really misunderstood geniuses that lived troubled lives.
Mark Irving from the Times newspaper has wrote a review of the exhibition, and more interestingly about artists and how self absorbed we often are..
Artists on the road to martyrdom
"Artists find nothing quite as fascinating as themselves. When the Medici started their celebrated collection of artist self-portraits, housed in the corridor that Giorgio Vasari built in 1565 to link the Uffizi via the Ponte Vecchio with the Pitti Palace, they set in train a cult of the self that pervades contemporary art today.
Walk through any graduate art show and you'll see the signs: the shaky video work, the obscure narratives, the fetishistic self-absorption, the over- written "artist's statement". The blame for much of this selfimportance can be laid at the door of Romanticism, that seizure of the imagination that dominated the 19th century, a period when artists shook off their feudal ties with the established order and started polishing the first-person pronoun." Times Online
>> Museum Exhibitions, Being an Artist
Friday, June 09, 2006
  27,000 Year Old Portrait
27,000 year old portraitA 27,000 year old portrait drawing has been found in a cave in France, which makes it the oldest ever discovered.
The Modigliani/Picasso-esque head is from a time where man was much less developed and was probably chasing big Mammoths around, but it wouldn't look out of place sitting a modern art museum.
Old masters
"Why did the first artists draw like Picasso? It has to be because of their attitude to the face, to their own embodiment and that of the people they lived with - it has to be because of how they saw human beings specifically, because this is very different from the way they painted animals. Stone Age artists could paint with a verisimilitude that takes your breath away; the horse panel in the Chauvet cave, older than this drawing, is covered with acutely observed heads of aurochs (extinct relatives of cattle) and horses whose tufty manes are painted with a clarity Da Vinci would have admired. Why is the human face so much harder to decipher, so stylised?" Guardian
>> General Art News
Thursday, June 08, 2006
  Aboriginal Art Industry
The Aboriginal art industry in Australia has seen a dramatic rise in popularity during recent times. With the value of the paintings increasing, corruption and fraud are also increasing.
It has prompted the Australian government to spend an extra $2.2 million to fund the education of artists and their rights, while also educating buyers of Aboriginal art.
As much as I like some Australian aborginal art, I would be hesitant in spending much more than a few hundred dollars on a painting as you just don't know what you are getting. The same could be said about buying any contemporary art, but the stories that get around about aboriginal art makes it all a bit riskier (just my opinion).
Australia aims to protect a $149 million art industry
"Stories have circulated about fraud and exploitation of artists for almost as long as there was a buck to be made in aboriginal art. The issue has come to the fore again this year with reports from the town of Alice Springs of artists being physically coerced into producing art and working in sweatshop conditions. Investigations have revealed little. It is alleged that artists are intimidated or bought off by cash, drugs, or alcohol. Meanwhile, some well-known artists have been accused of passing off work by relatives as their own." CS Monitor
>> Australian Art, Art Collecting
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
  Steve Wynn Buying Spree
The Las Vegas billionaire casino owner Steve Wynn has been busy spending up to 30 million pounds in auction rooms during the past couple of months. A couple notable works he has purchased include the Ming vase that he gave to China and the JMW Turner painting that became the most expensive British painting to be sold.
He's often dismissed as a mere big game hunter bagging trophy artists, but one critic regards him as brilliant
"On the more glacial upper slopes of the art world he is often dismissed as a mere big game hunter, bagging trophy artists by the square meter of canvas, caring more for the famous name than for quality. But one art writer and critic, who also pays regular gambling visits to Las Vegas, regards him as brilliant, a marketing genius who spotted the slow death of the old casinos with their seedy image and reinvented them, first as family theme parks, then as luxury resorts." Guardian
>> Art Collecting News
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
  Painting with Acrylics
The Canadian artist Robert Genn is discussing the use of acrylic paints in his latest newsletter, and how some people look down on them. He mentions that it is artists that use oils that do most of the criticizing.
I personally wish I did like acrylic paints as they are so much more convenient, but they just don't excite me. Maybe I just haven't spent enough time with them, but any acrylic paintings I have done have come out flat and lifeless.
The biggest issue I have with acrylics is that I love texture, but it just doesn't come out the same as oils. The drying time between layers also suites my way of working, as I like to slowly build up a bunch of paintings at once.
And perhaps the history of oils plays a small part of my love of oils. Even the smell of oils is comforting..
Acrylic snobs
"Most of the bad attitude you hear about acrylics comes not from collectors, but from other artists. This is unfortunate because the same narrow views can work against other media--watercolor for one. As an acrylic painter myself, I get around the problem by praising oils. I'm on solid ground here--I worked in oils for thirty years. I tell folks that nothing will ever beat them for texture and workability. Only occasionally do I mention oil-based problems: darkening, yellowing, oxidizing and sinking in, etc. It's not the pigments, it's the medium--traditional thinners, drying oils.. particularly linseed oil. Also, because of technical ignorance and creeping amateurism, oils can require early restoration--some after only a few years. Interestingly, decaying oils these days are restored with acrylic." Acrylic Snobs
See more of Robert's newsletter archives over at Painter's Keys.
>> Painting News
Monday, June 05, 2006
  JMW Turner Watercolor
joseph mallord william turnerA watercolor painting by JMW Turner has set a new record for a British work on paper at a recent Christie's auction in London.
The 1842 watercolor "The Blue Rigi: Lake of Lucerne, Sunrise" went for nearly three times its estimate, selling for 5.8 million pounds or about $11 million USD. Making it a record for a British work on paper.
Not so long ago Joseph Mallord William Turner also set the record for the most expensive British painting to be sold at auction.
Turner watercolor sells for record £5.8 million
"Noel Annesley, honorary chairman of Christie's, said the work marked "the culmination of Turner's achievement in the medium that he made his own. In a technique of almost unimaginable subtlety Turner expresses his lifelong preoccupation with the effects of light, shade and atmosphere." Guardian
>> Famous Artists, Art Auctions
Friday, June 02, 2006
  1000 Paintings
I recently asked Anthony White some questions about his money paintings, and have come across an artist in Zürich, Switzerland doing something similar. Maria pointed out the one thousand paintings site, where Sala is creating 1000 numbered works for sale online.
It's an idea that is getting a lot of attention online.

Here's his rules for the works..
What's special about these paintings? One number, one painting - the number is the art is the limit is the price. Each of the one thousand paintings is unique, showing a number between 1 and 1000. This is an experiment of art and mathematics, on the web, the first of its kind. The value of each painting is defined by its number (value = 1000 - number). The earlier you buy, the more you save.
There's more info on the 1000 paintings website.
>> General Art News
Thursday, June 01, 2006
  Milk Art
Martin White from the United Kingdom will soon create an installation called "Spilt Milk". The dairy hygiene inspector is pouring 5,000 liters or 8,800 pints into a dish and will wait for it to go off.
I'm not sure if it's art, or even if it's rational, but his message behind the work is that dairy farming is in decline.
Milk art brings a little culture to the farm
"I wanted to show how even a wholesome food is transformed into toxins over time. This work is also a comment on the pressures on dairy farming, which is becoming less and less viable. As [this] farm was once a dairy farm, there is a certain irony in bringing milk here, only for it to decay."
Mr White will pour thousands of pints of the white stuff into a specially constructed 30 foot petri dish on Thursday - and wait for it to go off. At least a four-inch crust is expected. The artwork will remain on display until it becomes so rotten and smelly that it will have to be removed and processed at a biogas facility." Telegraph
>> General Art News
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