As he turns 100, the California artist's paintings of cakes, pies and other ordinary diner fare have become iconic.
By Emily Bobrow
Celebrate Thanksgiving with Luigi Valadier's luxurious tableware, James Rosenquist's Americana and a family-friendly show on Corduroy the bear.
A new James Rosenquist exhibition is as enigmatic and bold as the artist. James Rosenquist: His American Life will run at Acquavella Galleries until December 7th.
The upcoming exhibition at Acquavella Galleries will examine the domains of Rosenquist's highly poetical visions, with a special focus on Post-War America.
Artspace worked with Damian Loeb to curate an online exhibition of alumni from the New York Academy of Art, the graduate school in Tribeca, where students are taught traditional methods and techniques, combined with rigorous critical discourse. Here the artist talks about the exhibition.
Acquavella Galleries’ exhibition of the Uruguay-born Modernist is a primer for the uninitiated and a treasury of rarely seen gems.
Best known for his paintings of cakes and ice cream, Wayne Thiebaud, is also surprisingly talented, if orthodox, when it comes to works on paper.
By Andrew Butterfield
A surprising number of collectors and even dealers feel they lack understand and fear making judgements. No wonder the art world is full of anxious conformity.
By Kaelen Wilson-Goldie
Jacob El Hanani makes minutely detailed, dazzlingly obsessive drawings without the aid of a magnifying glass. Now seventy, he works in ten-minute bursts to avoid damaging his eyes. He spends months, even years, on a single composition. He uses ink on paper or a quill on gessoed canvas. These, at least, are the stable facts of El Hanani’s practice. Everything else about his art dwells in lush and disorienting ambiguity.
Most obvious is the question of where the viewer is meant to stand in relation to El Hanani’s drawings. His second exhibition here covers four decades. The drawings are so faint that they seem like shy living things, lingering between visibility and invisibility, reluctant to fully appear. Thirteen works on canvas line the front gallery. Fifteen smaller works on paper fill the back gallery, all behind glass. You almost have to mash your face into them to understand the extreme precision of El Hanani’s marks.
Drawings such as Untitled (from the Mondrian Series), 2011, and Linescape (from the J.W. Turner Series), 2014–15, demand you do a little dance before them—a few steps back to see formless abstractions, a few steps forward to decipher elaborate city grids and oceanic textures. Born in Casablanca, raised in Tel Aviv, and based in New York since the early 1970s, El Hanani is deeply indebted to the Jewish tradition of micrography. But as his titles suggest, he is also clearly invested in questions of modernism, urban rhythm, and the natural sublime. The best piece in the show, Alhambra, 2016, gives Islamic geometry a minimalist spin. What begins as a question of pure form—the endless possibilities of a steady, hand-drawn line—ends in a dense, fascinating matrix of mixed-up histories, geographies, and cultural movements.
By Lane Florsheim
The artist's new show 'Linescape' opens October 2 at Acquavella Gallery in New York.
Jacob El Hanani's studio is immaculate. The hardwood floors gleam and neat rows of books are stacked along shelves against walls near the entrance. During my visit, he takes out various binders, exhibition catalogs and drawings before returning each to its exact place in a filing cabinet or drawer below one of the two tables where he draws. "It's always like this," he says.
In the context of his work, El Hanani's neatness coheres. From a distance, his pieces look abstract: a hazy gray square on canvas, a roiling atmospheric formation, a collection of intersecting lines. But standing closer one notices that each shape is in turn composed of thousands of tiny lines, made with a quill or a Rapidograph techinical pen. Sometimes El Hanani, who has been called the grandfater of micro-drawing, draws miniscule characters from the Hebrew alphabet, referencing the Judaic tradition of micrography. "Usually, I don't get the 'Wow.' I get the, 'How?'" he explains as I inspect one. It would be easy enough to pass a drawing of his by without noticing the innumerable marks -- they unfold to the viewer like a secret.
For decades, El Hanani has been driven by the desire to bring drawing to this extreme in an attempt to break the notion that miniature is a small-scale work. "When I moved to New York in the '70s, everything was, My car is bigger than your car and my apartment is bigger than your apartment," he says. "Now it's, My cell phone is smaller than yours. My gadget is smaller than yours. So, the miniaturization of the planet..." he considers. "Well, the Japanese already started that 400 years ago."
The number of hours it takes to achieve the precision found in every centimeter of his work defies today's ethos of efficiency and reverence of technology. Younger viewers, he says, often don't believe the pieces are by hand, or done without the help of an assistant. Later, he mentions he hasn't accomplished all he wants to do, like spending a whole year, uninterrupted, on only one piece. Even though some of his works have taken years, he is always working on a number of drawings.
El Hanani's new show Linescape opens October 2 at Acquavella Galleries in New York and covers nearly forty years of his practice. "I would call myself a line-maker," he says of the show title. "When people say to me, 'What do you do for a living?' I say, 'I make lines' ... Is a line-maker something in football?" he adds, seeming sincere. He categorizes his earlier work as more austere, in keeping with minimalism's de rigeur opposition to figuration in the '70s. He sees his recent pieces, some of which reference Piet Mondrian's grid paintings and J.M.W. Turner's vivid landscapes, as freer.
El Hanani was born in Casablanca and moved to Israel when he was seven, where he was "the artist of the kids," copying the drawings of Albrecht Dürer and Giorgio Morandi. He spent two years at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris in his twenties before moving to New York City "for the space." A tthe time, he explains, artists could only get 200 or 300 square feet in Paris for the price of 3,000 in New York. Once in New York City, he eliminated every trace of figuration from his work in 1972 and found his new process demanded 12 hours a day. He worked constantly. "I was able to survive without having a day job. If I sold a drawing, I paid my rent. That generation was really supportive of artist and art."
El Hanani's work develops organically, without subjects in mind, but sometimes he finds personal or historical meaning in a piece after it is complete. He once made a series of drawings that turned out to be gauze fabric and then learned that Gaza is thought to be the origin of gauze. "Gaza was important to me because when I was in the Israeli army, we occupied the West Bank. I've been twice in Gaza," he says. "Unconsciously, I figure, I ended up drawing gauze."
During my visit, El Hanani also shows me the darwings he doesn't exhibit: the sheets he fills with figurative doodles (eight favorites are framed and displayed on the wall) and a binder of his cartoons, explaining that, like Michael Jordan playing golf to unwind, artists relax by making different kinds of art. "My case was being a paparazzi cartoonist quietly in a cocktail when nobody could see me," he says. He shows me the likenesses of Norman Mailer, Henry Kissinger and a young Donald Trump along with many others.
When he opens the drawer to one of his cabinets, revealing a charcoal sketch of a nude model sitting on her knees, he says quickly, "It's not important. Hundreds of artists do that in art school." But then he adds: "However, sixty years from now, my son will be 74. And I'm dead, and if someone says, 'Oh you have a drawing of your father's from 100 years ago?' Suddenly it becomes important for a collector."
"All that we can do is leave the pile slightly higher than what it was. I'll be known for making little, tiny lines," he says. "Period. You cannot achieve a lot in art. You have to make your own contribution."
By David Cohen
Scriptural injunctions against graven images and puritanical disdain for decoration or ornament for their own sake engendered an ingenious work around from medieval artists: micrography. Miniscule but nonetheless legible script is arranged into otherwise prohibited or discouraged forms, sometimes whimsical, sometimes expressive of the text itself. Fast forward to minimal art and its inherent iconoclasm and Casablanca-born, Israel-raised, Paris-educated, New York-based Jacob El Hanani pulls from his “portable ark of the covenant” (in R. B. Kitaj’s phrase, from First Diasporist Manifesto) the mind bogglingly ethereal feat that is his application of this ancestral technique to a contemporary abstract idiom. These days, however, there is a relative loosening-up of his approach, as the artist acknowledges in titles that evoke landscapes by Turner and cityscapes by Mondrian. As El Hanani explains, “For many decades, I was working under a self-imposed austerity, but many artists, as they get older, release themselves and tend to embrace a freer, more lyrical style.”
Veteran gallerist and art dealer Michael Findlay is staging an all-out war against Art Attention Deficit Disorder.
Philippe de Montebello, the former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, doesn’t exactly need another job.
He is chairman of the Hispanic Society of America; a professor at New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts; an honorary trustee of the Prado Museum; and a host of the PBS TV program “NYC-ARTS.”
But now Mr. de Montebello has decided to add yet one more, becoming a director of Acquavella Galleries, effective immediately, where he will focus on the curation of special exhibitions and the development of publications.
Over the course of a frustrating afternoon in 1961, Wayne Thiebaud visited every single gallery on Madison Avenue, New York, to try to sell his paintings. By then, he was in his early 40s, had recently become a professor of art at the University of California and counted such giants as Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning among his friends. But he had not yet made his own name as an artist.
The artist Wayne Thiebaud renders everyday delights strange and vibrant. Long celebrated for his peppy still life paintings and fantastical landscapes, the 96-year-old California native is currently in London for a survey show at the city’s White Cube gallery.
Joan Miró was a small, fastidious, taciturn Catalan. Alexander Calder was a big, rumpled, gregarious American. At first glance, they would appear to hail from distant planets. Yet once they met in Paris in 1928, they enjoyed an unusually close and mutually beneficial friendship that lasted until Calder’s death in 1976. With other artistic pairs, like Pissarro and Cézanne or Picasso and Braque, competitiveness ignited and acrimony at times soured the creative ferment. But Miró and Calder unfailingly championed and nourished each other’s work. A principle that Calder applied to his art could also describe their relationship: “Disparity in form, color, size, weight, motion, is what makes a composition.”
By Hilarie M. Sheets
The New York artist has been studying astronomy and high-tech photography to produce works that reveal the wonders of space.
Preview of Damian Loeb's exhibition, "Sgr A*," by Annie Block.
Pace and Acquavella Galleries team up next April to present "constellation" works by the two artists
An artist who got his start in the late ‘90s as a raffish bad-boy painter of hyperrealist Hollywood “film stills” yanked from appropriated materials (or photographs of his wife), often with a healthy helping of transgressive bedroom voyeurism á la Eric Fischl, Damian Loeb was a market sensation, then critical cat toy, then where-are-they-now question mark. For the past several years the answer to that question has been Acquavella, the aristocratic gallery in a townhouse on New York’s Upper East Side ... He has a new show opening at Acquavella this February.
Towards the upper end of the spectrum on day one in Miami was a remarkable 1964 canvas by Kenneth Noland, Mach II, which sold from Acquavella Galleries in the fair’s first hours ... Acquavella said that dealers, like her family’s, have been experiencing the same supply constraints that have hobbled the secondary market over the past year. Sensing uncertainty in the market, collectors have shown significant reticence to offer up top-quality material. And like in the secondary market, when they have decided to sell, much of the material has been kept private. “That’s the bulk of our business,” she said, noting that fairs serve more as a form of advertising. “That’s why we really try to bring an array of things.” This time, that ranges from the Noland and a set of Andy Warhol “Dolly Partons” to paintings by rising Chinese abstract painter Wang Yan Cheng and Spanish painter and ceramist Miquel Barceló.
Tefaf in Manhattan; sold to the anchor from CNN; Trump in the nude
By Colin Gleadell
In my early days as an art market reporter, London’s most powerful dealer in modern art, Leslie Waddington, told me that, in his view, the most important 20th century European artist, after Picasso, Leger and Miro was Jean Dubuffet.
“Jean Dubuffet: Anticultural Positions” on display at 18 East 79th Street, is a show devoted to the early work of the French artist who coined the term “art brut,” is the sort of in-depth, big-ticket exhibition that only a few galleries can pull off, and even fewer are inclined to mount.
The French artist’s early work in painting and sculpture is showcased at the New York-based gallery this month. By Thomas Gebremedhin.
Opening: “Jean Dubuffet: Anticultural Positions” at Acquavella Galleries
Presenting early works in painting and sculpture by renowned French artist Jean Dubuffet, this compelling exhibition (organized by art historian Mark Rosenthal) focuses on the artist’s development of his signature Art Brut style, which was inspired by children’s drawings and the art of the mentally ill (what we now call Outsider
Art.) Made between 1943 and 1959, the expressive works in the show, which are accompanied by a catalogue published by Rizzoli, include major loans from museums and private collections.
Acquavella Galleries, 18 East 79 Street, New York, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
It seems that when Jean Dubuffet is mentioned, it's almost always in the context of Outsider art, a field that he helped definie and promote and that is currently enjoying a surge of interest. But Dubuffet was a major artist in his own right, and an exhibition at Acquavella Galleries aims to put the focus back on the man himself and his subversive creativity. "Jean Dubuffet: Anticultural Positions" (April 15 - June 10) is the first show of the artist's early paintings and sculptures--generally considered to be his best and most powerful--to be mounted in over 20 years (the last one was at the Hirshhorn in 1993). Curated by Mark Rosenthal of the Detroit Institute of the Arts, it combines works from Acquavella's holdings with loans from public and private collections, in the kind of museum-like presentation that is increasingly prevalent at high-end galleries in this country.
The works on view date from 1943-59, the years of Dubuffet's boldest expeirmentation. Typical is L'adieu à la fenêtre (Farewell from the Window), from 1949, in which the figures and the surrounding landscape are scratched like graffiti into a monochrome layer of brown oil paint on burlap. The overall effect is deliberately childlike and cartoonish. In the early 1940s, with Europe in the throes of total war, it seemed to many that Western civilization was bankrupt and doomed. Dubuffet's response was to assume an "anticultural" stance that eschewed convention and decorum in both art and life. Influenced by the German psychiatrist Hanks Prinzhorn's 1922 book Artistry of the Mentally Ill, Dubuffet came to believe that the art of the insane, as well as that of young children, tapped into an intuitive, spontaneous creativity unavailable to traditional art. He organized an exhibition of this "raw art" (art brut) in 1947, and emulated it in his own work.
Dubuffet first studied art when he was 18, but it wasn't until he was in his early 40s that he was able to fully devote himself to it. (Until then he was involved in running the family wine business.) "But as soon as he became an artist," says Rosenthal, "he was lionized as an enfant terrible who was constantly undermining traditions in portraiture, landscape, and abstraction." Dubuffet started using natural mateirals like gravel, cement, broken bottles, leaves, dust, and butterfly wings. "His pictures are lumpy with it, like volcanic slag," says Rosenthal. Noting that the Paleolithic cave paintings in Lascaux, in southern France, were discovered right around this time, Rosenthal describes Dubuffet's figures as a "a band of individuals who look like they just emerged from the earth. He's consumed with the subject of the earth."
In the '50s, Dubuffet's work became less figurative, but even then, says Rosenthal, "the surfaces are made to look like earth, like you're looking at the ground." In this respect, Dubuffet had a huge influence on artists such as Georg Baselitz, Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, and Alberto Burri. "He was the one most responsible for introducing experimentation with materials," says Rosenthal. "It's long overdue for us to figure out who this fountainhead of art was."
The Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Musée national Picasso-Paris organize a joint event dedicated to Miquel Barceló. Numerous pieces, never-presented before, allow visitors to discover the Majorcan artist’s universe. Paintings and ceramics are presented at the Musée national Picasso-Paris while the engraved works are put on display at the BnF.
Miquel Barceló’s engraved works that stand as a major part of the artist’s production are rarely presented. The artist, painter, sculptor and ceramist, has also been trying his hand at printing techniques since the beginning of his career. Rich and deeply original, his printed works gather nearly 250 copper and wood engravings, lithographs, screen prints and stampings. Although a self-sufficient part of the artist’s production, these pieces remain an integral part of his protean work because of their fundamentally experimental dimension.
The BnF naturally decided to present this little-known part of his work in parallel with drawings, sculptures, ceramics and paintings. Visitors are invited to follow a thematic path built around a selection of 60 recent or very old prints accounting for the coherence and singularity of his artistic approach.
A monumental fresco made of soil and daylight was created in situ across the full height of the windows of the Julien Cain alley that the artist covered with a fine coat of clay before scraping the dried material. An outstanding introduction to the exhibition, this 190 metre-length over 6-metre high fresco immerses visitors in Barceló’s bewitching universe.
Review of "Wordplay" exhibition on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art through April 11, 2016. The show features three drawings by Jacob El Hanani from the museum's permanent collection.
The art dealer extraordinarire shares what to see and do in Miami.
An artist with works in the permanent collections of the top museums across the country and countless awards and honorary degrees might be expected to slow down a bit in his or her later years. But not Wayne Thiebaud. The American painter turns 95 on November 15 and is celebrating with a new monograph published by Rizzoli that explores his extensive career.
Directors Michael Findlay & Ken Yeh included in Art & Auction's annual power issue.
Opening: “Riopelle | Miró: Color” at Acquavella Galleries
An unusual artistic pairing, this exhibition features painted bronze sculptures by the Spanish modernist master Joan Miró and oil paintings by the French abstract expressionist Jean Paul Riopelle. Although their styles were quite different, the two artists were friends, had the same dealers and once even shared a studio in the South of France. The show presents Mr. Miró’s vividly painted bronzes of assembled found objects alongside Mr. Riopelle lusciously painted abstractions.
Acquavella Galleries, 18 East 79 Street, New York, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Interview with Eleanor Acquavella, Co-Owner:
How did you get your start as a gallerist?
My first job in the art world was the the Phillips Collection, where I worked for a summer during college under then-director Charlie Moffett. I absolutely loved it, and I decided that I wanted to work with and around art for the rest of my life. After college I worked at Sotheby's in various departments. After two years had passed, my father and I both felt it was time for me to start my career at the gallery.
How have you generally discovered new artists? Are there any new discoveries for the gallery whom you're especially excited about?
Usually, our discoveres beginw ith us as collectors - we purchase and live with artists that are new to us and then see how their careers and work develop over time. For example, Jacob El Hanani is an artist I discovered at a works-on-paper fair, and I bought one of his drawings on the spot. I purchased a few more over the years, and that relationship culminated in the show we have up now.
What was your biggest show of the past year?
Probably the show of Basquiat drawings from the Schorr Collection.
What's one show you loved in the past year at a gallery other than your own?
Martin Puryear at Matthew Marks.
If cost were no object, what work of art would you have in your bedroom?
I could spend hours and hours thinking about this ... I guess I would say a Matisse. I couldn't imagine a better way to start the day.
What do the likes of Sir Edmund Hillary, the famed mountaineer credited with the first conquest of Everest, and the scribal mystics of medieval Judaism have in common? Nothing, it would seem—except that they meet in the extraordinary work of Jacob El Hanani. With all the quiet intensity of a monk absorbed in selfless devotion to the word of God, and a considerable dose of climber’s hubris, El Hanani has made a career out of testing the limits of human endurance. Armed with only a fine-point pen and the discipline of a military general, this artist has brought drawing to places few of us might care to go. But experienced from the armchair of viewership, the work is as breathtaking in its beauty as it is profound in its implications about the human urge toward—and need for—self-transcendence.
With this show, the Israeli artist’s first New York solo in over a decade, we have a rare opportunity to see a range of drawings created in the last eight years. Acquavella’s cavernous interior is an apt setting for the thirteen modest- to mid-sized pieces on view; both stately and austere, it echoes the work’s curiously dual nature. Bright, open, and largely devoid of sensory distractions, the space encourages exactly the kind of viewing demanded here: close, concentrated, and sustained.
The emphasis is on close, for it is by no bit of admirer’s hyperbole that El Hanani is known as the “grandfather of micro-drawing.” Indeed, from the conventional viewing distance, one sees only soft rectangles of atmospheric haze surrounded by generous margins of untouched paper. But at nose distance, innumerable discrete marks emerge—some no larger than a particle of dust—whose dense accretions coalesce into the shimmering fields we see from a few steps back. While the marks vary from tiny linear strokes to long hair-like strands to letters from the Hebrew alphabet, the abstract images they form evoke landscapes, ambiguous cartographies, or, most overtly, textiles. But as Arthur Danto suggested in the show’s catalogue essay, the images are epiphenomenal to the work’s primary focus: the marks themselves. That the latter are hand-drawn—a fact crucial to the work’s appreciation—is evident within every inch of drawn surface: wobbly, irregular, and subtly varied in weight and density, the lines exude human presence.
While the unfathomable labor-intensiveness of the artist’s practice—what we might call its “wow factor”—announces itself with much volume, the work is rooted in a tradition born of devotional silence. An element of kabbalic exegesis, the scribal art of micro-calligraphy, in which minuscule Hebrew letters are used to compose images adorning sacred texts, dates back some thousand years. The sanctity of the Hebrew alphabet being a fundamental tenet of the kabbalah, one can imagine the impulse that gave rise to this practice. If the letters were thought to be the means by which God brought the world into being, intimate and prolonged contact with them brought the artist-scribe into Divine communion. Like chant or incantation, it is a meditative practice whose use of language transcends the latter’s rational dimension, transforming it into a vehicle for ecstatic experience.
While allusions to sacred writing are implicit throughout, some of the drawings bear their origins more conspicuously than others. The Hebrew Barbed Wire(2013) is one of the most explicit in this regard. Here, undulating threads of Hebrew text crisscross an expansive horizontal field. The reader of Hebrew might wish for a magnifying glass, but ultimately the work’s appeal lies not in what it says but in the intensity of the process by which it was brought into being. In other drawings, such as those in the particularly beautiful “Linescape”series (2012), letters give way to loose parallel hatches whose irregular swirls suggest tempests (indeed, the series’s subtitle gives a nod to J.M.W. Turner). In the show’s densest piece, Crosshatched (1999), the pockets of negative space that punctuate the other drawings are all but abandoned. Here, microscopic clusters of crosshatched lines create an allover field so vibratory and alive it is virtually palpable. The effect is one of an unusually acute—and largely ineffable—attunement with Being.
Perhaps it is in this awakening of our subtler senses that the work achieves its greatness. If so, it is an experience that can arise only after one’s awe over the work’s facture has settled—or, otherwise put, once the artist himself has receded from the picture. And herein lies the work’s central paradox: for all its strenuous asceticism, there is an element of egotism in El Hanani’s practice. After the initial “Wow,” it is difficult not to dwell on the question of “How,” which can hinder deeper, more substantial contemplation. The sheer feat that each piece represents can be a distraction. It is a danger that plagues much “endurance art,” not unlike that which can threaten to turn work of monumental scale into mere spectacle.
But perhaps there is another way of understanding the work’s allure. The urge toward self-transcendence, which is the impulse behind all ecstatic disciplines, would not exist were the self not conflicted. Twofold always—with longings for both singularity and identification with a larger whole—we are all, in this sense, a problem to ourselves. With equal parts hubris and humility, El Hanani’s work is a powerful testament to a human pathos that reaches in both directions. And just as Edmund Hillary was less singular in his accomplishment than he might have liked us to believe (we now know he was accompanied by Tenzing Norgay, an intrepid Sherpa), El Hanani is preceded by many an equally possessed mind striving for self-conquest. But in the realm of contemporary drawing, he stands on that mountain alone.
As a child hiking in the mountains of his native Mallorca, Spanish artist Miquel Barceló admired an old stone tower. Some 30 years ago, in his early career, he bought the tower and surrounding property to make it his home.
“I knew I wanted it since I was 12 years old,” says Mr. Barceló, 58, one of Spain’s prominent artists, whose paintings and sculptures have appeared at the Louvre and Picasso museums, as well as in a United Nations building in Geneva, where his work is permanently displayed. He is known for colorful still lifes and highly textured abstract paintings, and for traditional, earth-tone ceramics. His work, he says, is influenced by his extensive travel. He maintains homes in Paris and Mali, where his three children also grew up.
Today, Mr. Barceló is at home in a beige stone house that originally was a 12th-century Arab lookout tower and small building that later served as a hunting lodge for the king of Mallorca. The property is on a hilltop in the village of Artà. It overlooks lush mountains, pine and olive trees, and the Mediterranean.
Mr. Barceló has added donkeys, cows, sheep to his land, as well as a greenhouse and a pool. He points across the valley to what he says are Neolithic caves and graves. “I like the idea of people continually living here over different periods,” Mr. Barceló says.
His 1984 purchase of the vast swath of land—about 1.2 square miles—on a mountaintop meant he could be surrounded by nature with- out the intrusion of developers. When he arrived, he says, the population of the village was about 300; it is now about 2,000.
When he moved in, Mr. Barceló removed 150-year-old additions to the medieval fortress to restore the prominence of the tower. He lived there for months without electricity. Over time, he transformed the structure into a two-story, 5,380-square-foot home with four bedrooms and four bathrooms. The tower contains one bedroom.
His own additions are subtle: a guesthouse with another two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and a painting studio. The expansion more than doubled the living space to nearly 11,000 square feet.
“I wanted to be able to work peacefully,” he says of the studio, which has a walk-in closet filled with paints he mixed himself. “I can see everything from here, but no one can see me.”
Mr. Barceló says the restoration started three decades ago is still going on. He declines to give the original price of the property or esti- mate his total renovation costs. Louis Bruehlmann, managing director at First Mallorca, a local real-estate company, says a similar plot of land, with a small home, in another part of Mallorca is for sale for €15 million, or about $16.8 million.
Mr. Barceló, born in 1957 in the nearby village of Felanitx, says he chose the property for its beauty as well as its solitude. It provides all his basic needs: The small farm yields most of the fruits and vegetables he eats, his wine comes from Felanitx, and he catches his own food from his fishing boat, a short hike from his home.
He eats in a stone-arched dining room in the original structure. His music room has a piano and a collection of LPs—one, a Frankie Valli album, plays on an old record player.
Mr. Barceló has little need for a phone or computer, but he snaps images on his smartphone. A recent video features sped-up footage of light shining through the painted and etched windows of his ceramics studio, which he bought about five years ago in nearby Vilafranca de Bonany.
That studio holds earth-tone pots and vases he made on a potter’s wheel, a skill he developed in the 1980s in Mali. His designs include vague self-portraits as well as animal figures. He used to spend four months a year in a home he bought in Mali, but conflicts forced him to halt his visits. That property now is maintained by friends.
Sitting in his painting studio, he reflects on a mural he did on a ceiling in the U.N. building in Geneva that depicts caves. “You see dif- ferent perspectives from the different countries’ seats,” he says. “I think that’s a good metaphor.”
Jacob El Hanani's splendid drawings suggest that all art is autobiographical and that abstraction is a part of human nature. Potentially paradoxical, these cojoined ideas are also linked to another contradictory pair: our simultaneous need to reveal and cocneal ourselves. El Hanani's meticulous pen-and-ink (his only medium) drawings are encoded self-expression, an aesthetic of secrecy.
For example, The Hebrew Barbed Wire (2013) appears at a distance to be a mass of loosely woven barbed wire. We see the wire, and we see through the tangle. Inspected at close range the barbed wire turns into the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. To inscribe those letters is to evoke a millenial tradition; to run them into barbed wire is to allude to past horros and current restraints. The alphabet simultaneously protecs and imprisons. At the same time, the drawing floats before us, visually divorced both from barbed wire and Hebrew, a beautiful object.
Less obviously related to El Hanani's personal past is Gauze (2011), a drawing of a piece of textile. Certainly the relationship between text and textile comes to the point of this superb piece, but gauze is the sheer fabric we use to bind wounds and is thought to get its name from Gaza, where it was made. An excellent catalogue essay by the late Arthur Danto accompanies the exhibition.
A history of the gallery, interview with Director Ken Yeh, and a discussion of highlights the gallery is bringing to its booth at Art Basel Hong Kong.
Wayne Thiebaud, the painter, who lives in Sacramento and who, at ninety-three, plays tennis for at least an hour and a half most mornings, was on his way to the Frick the other day, when he stopped for a coffee at Lady M, on East Seventy- eighth Street, a minimally decorated boutique-y place selling “confectionary delights”—or, to use Thiebaud’s phrase, on his arrival, “un-American cakes.” Thiebaud was wearing a blue windbreaker from which he had not yet removed day-old proof- of-payment stickers from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney—Thiebaud’s work is in both collections—and he looked like a high-school athletic coach a week or two into retirement.
He took a seat by the door. Seventy-five- and eighty-dollar confections—including a checkerboard chocolate-and-vanilla sponge cake, a strawberry shortcake, something lemony—were lined up in a low white case, in a white room.
That morning, some Lady M customers began to take photographs the moment they walked in, before the door had closed behind them; their avidity was perhaps connected to the work of Thiebaud, who in his first, hit New York show, in 1962, arranged sequences of stoical cakes and pies in brightly lit, unpeopled space, to make paintings that were warily respectful of American baking, and of America. He subsequently found other subjects—city streets, melons—but his current show, at Acquavella Galleries, includes new work on the old theme. As Thiebaud put it, there are still days that start with the thought: This morning, I’d like to paint a pie.
Thiebaud was born in Arizona and grew up in Southern California. His first experience of New York was in the mid-forties, when he stayed a year and worked as a freelance cartoonist. At Solomon Guggenheim’s Museum of Non-Objective Painting, on East Fifty-fourth Street, he was distracted from the art by Greta Garbo: “I just followed her around and watched her looking at paintings. And then I saw Salvador Dali, about two hours later. I could see why people lived in New York.” He returned to the city ten years later, having committed to a career in painting and teaching. “That’s when I met my heroes”— Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, and others—“and I changed my whole program.” He was struck by their seriousness about the history of painting—“They were interested as much in Rembrandt as in Soutine and Picasso”—and by their advice: “If you’re going to paint, you’d better find out why you’re doing it, and you should do something that you know about, that you’re infatuated with.”
Until then, he said, “I’d been painting like de Kooning and Pollock, and trying to make it look like art. You develop these convenient signs of art—the drip, or whatever those things are.” He returned to California and made the decision “to sit down and think out this thing. Well, I’d worked in restaurants, washing dishes, worked in theatres, as an usher. I was interested in the Americanism of gumball machines. And up in Nevada I’d gamble, play blackjack—I had a system for a while.” On long Western drives, he’d been struck by sameness, brightness, and a kind of bravado: “You’re going across the country, and in Reno, in the desert, there’s a little hamburger place, and it says ‘The Best Hamburgers in the World.’ ” He laughed. “It’s the hope! That guy.”
Working from memory, he made a painting of meringues and pumpkin pies. “I got the structure of the painting to operate— the ovals. It was very simple to get it to come together.” When he had finished, he said to himself, “Look, a row of pies— that’ll be the end of me trying to be a serious artist. But I couldn’t leave it alone. It meant something to me.” (When he later turned to landscapes, his New York dealer was supportive, but only after saying, “Jesus Christ, I’ve just got people used to those damn pies.”)
Thiebaud’s new images include a display cabinet of baked goods, and a heart-shaped cake, in a dark setting; he deliberately deprived himself of the “support system” of a white background. He also painted crudités, fanned out on a plate, such as “you see over and over and over at everything you go to, that same stuff, in a circle—a Kenneth Noland abstraction.”
Lady M’s cakes were, he said, “too beautiful,” and he contrasted a “European-based, Viennese, fancy” tradition with American cakes from “basic neighborhood bakeries” that were guided by a principle of “slathering on.”
On the table in front of him, there was a slice of a Lady M cake made of many thin layers of crêpes and cream. “Let’s try some,” Thiebaud said, and took a mouthful. “It’s like eating a cloud, right? That’s terrific.”
At the counter, a woman used the tone of someone choosing between careers to ask for help deciding between a strawberry cake and a banana cake. “It depends on whether you like strawberries or bananas,” the sales assistant replied.
By Rachel Corbett
For those familiar with his work, the painter Wayne Thiebaud conjures almost Pavlovian associations with dessert. That’s because Thiebaud, who is 94, has devoted more than half his life to portraying glossily glazed doughnuts, rainbow-colored lollipops and creamy dollops with such discipline and affection that they come to look more precious than gemstones.
Thiebaud took years—in some cases decades—to complete many of the paintings in his latest show, at New York’s Acquavella Galleries from October 1 through November 21. “He is not a fast painter,” says gallery director Eleanor Acquavella, in an understatement. Thiebaud has never allowed her inside his Sacramento, California, studio and “never shows a work in progress. He waits as long as it takes until he knows it’s finished.”
Like Cézanne’s oranges or Morandi’s vases, Thiebaud’s desserts pulse with a life of their own. In one of the show’s larger canvases, a childlike vulnerability haunts the rows of cakes lining a cold case, each adorned with a ruffle of cream or a raspberry coronet, like girls dolled up for church. In another, two plump éclairs sit stiffly side by side as if siblings posed for a family portrait.
But while many of Thiebaud’s signature confections will be on view, the show highlights an even broader selection of his lesser-known portraiture, California cityscapes and beach tableaux. These works will strike some as a departure. While Thiebaud’s early art is bright, flat and tight, his palette has gotten deeper over the past 15 years, the impasto thicker. The loose sweeps of amber coastline are the closest Thiebaud comes to abstraction.
“I think for him there is a sense of now or never in the experimentation department,” Acquavella says. Even the desserts have taken a sensuous turn of late: Bordello-red icing tarts up a heart-shaped cake painted this year; its lacy white border squirted directly, so it seems, from tube to canvas.
But look long enough at one of Thiebaud’s mountain landscapes—painted from his memories of places like Yosemite and Laguna—and you’ll spot a cream puff of a cloud in the sky, a chocolate dome of a foothill. Just as his desserts cast big, blocky shadows, his mountains, too, carry importance in their mass.
“He has really stayed pretty consistent,” Acquavella says, bringing to mind the wisdom of one of history’s greatest still-life painters: “The grandiose,” Paul Cézanne once said, “grows tiresome after a while.”
Longtime collectors like Herbert and Lenore Schorr are luckier than most. In 1981, while visiting the Annina Nosei Gallery, which was then on Prince Street in SoHo, the couple met Jean-Michel Basquiat, fell in love with his work and bought one of his paintings. That purchase was quickly followed by others — drawings as well as canvases — and, over the years, the Schorrs amassed one of the most important Basquiat collections in the country. The Schorrs also became friends with the artist, who died of a drug overdose at 27 in 1988, and occasionally bought a painting or drawing right out of his Manhattan studio.
Sigmund Freud became famous by psychoanalyzing mankind’s crazy antics. If only he had seen what his grandson, the painter Lucian Freud, got up to: paying his bookies off with art, spending time with his adult children by painting them naked…
Speakeasy sat down recently with David Dawson, Freud’s studio assistant from 1989 until Freud’s death in July 2011. Mr. Dawson’s photos of the artist are currently on display at Vienna’s Sigmund Freud Museum, coinciding with a Freud retrospective at the city’s Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Here, an edited transcript.
Ken Yeh, former Chairman of Christie’s Asia, has been appointed director of New York’s Acquavella Galleries. Assuming the role in May 2013, Yeh will develop the gallery’s business in Asia while based in New York and Hong Kong. With 15 years at Christie’s specializing in Impressionist and Modern Art, Yeh has established strong relationships with Asian collectors worldwide. “This opportunity at Acquavella is a great chance to work with one of the best galleries, if not, the best gallery in the world,” Yeh said in a phone interview on Monday. “I am sad to leave Christie’s, and it was not an easy decision, but I felt like this was the right time for me to make a career move.”
Enoc Perez’s lushly figured paintings of modernist buildings at once exploit and question the seductions of architecture as well as painting itself. The exhibition presents two new bodies of work, one focusing on the Marina Towers in Chicago and the other a commissioned painting of the Watergate in Washington, D.C. These architectural portraits evoke modernism’s futurist aspirations as well as the sadness of an always-impossible ideal.
James Rosenquist Shows New Work at New York's Acquavella Galleries
Review of Acquavella Galleries Director Michael Findlay's book, "The Value of Art" by Alexandra Peers.
Book published by Prestel, 176 pages, $29.95.
Review of Acquavella Director Michael Findlay's new book "The Value of Art" by Dan Duray.
Book published by Prestel, 176 pages, $29.95.
Review of Acquavella Director Michael Findlay's new book "The Value of Art" by Brian Boucher.
Book published by Prestel, 176 pages, $29.95.
Review of Acquavella Director Michael Findlay's new book by Milton Esterow.
Book published by Prestel, 176 pages, $29.95.
A review of James Rosenquist's masterpiece, "F-111", on view at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. By Richard B. Woodward.
There's terrible beauty and lost innocence in the portraits and drawings of the late Lucian Freud, as Ossian Ward discovers
Sometimes, only after an artist has died can you see their work as a whole. That’s certainly the case
with Lucian Freud.
Lucian Freud painted strange, uneasy, figures, from first to last. Maybe they were uneasy because he was painting them. There was as much violence as tenderness in his stare, and in the ways he devised to paint...
The National Portrait Gallery has gathered by far the best large selection of Lucian Freud’s work, says Richard Dorment, including plenty of surprises
The fourth floor of the Museum of Modern Art has a new resident. James Rosenquist's F-111, a monumental 23-panel piece, is being exhibited for the first time since 2006 in the original 1965 configuration that the artist created for his debut show at Leo Castelli's 77th Street gallery...
"I really used the mirror as a device for an interior on a small scale," he explained. "Always the same mirror, which I like and know." For Lucian Freud the knowing and liking were mutually vital and this five-foot Georgian overmantel mirror stayed with him. It had come down in the world by the time he first set eyes on it in 1943 in the hallway at 20 Delamere Terrace, in what was then slum Paddington. It became one of his few possessions in the upstairs flat there overlooking the canal, along with a stuffed zebra head...
Lunch with the FT: During a heatwave in New York, the influential art dealer talks to Peter Aspden about changes in the art world, and his personal and professional relationship with Lucian Freud.
NEW YORK— "Artists for Haiti," a charity auction organized by actor Ben Stiller and art dealer David Zwirner and held at Christie's this evening raised a rousing $13,662,000 to benefit health and education initiatives for the earthquake-ravaged and desperately poor Caribbean country.
"The Players' Club"
The auction floor is the ultimate shark tank. Meet its most ruthless predators.
Anyone who thinks the art world is dull hasn't visited an auction house's sales room. This is a place where the people with the foresight to sell wield just as much powers as those who can buy; where dealers bid into the millions just to maintain the value of their stock; and where advisers play the field in order to drive up their commissions. We polled dozens of art-world insiders to compile a list of the 10 most powerful people in the auction world today. They're the ones spending the most money, making the most money, and defining the market as we know it.
Lucian Freud, the British realist painter and famed libertine, and his genteel New York dealer, William Acquavella, have a 20-year relationship based on creative support and a little bit of damage control.
Robert und Ethel Scull sammelten Pop-Art, lange bevor sie in die Museen kam. Eine New Yorker Ausstellung zeigt jetzt einen Teil ihrer legendaren Kollektion.
Aus New York berichtet Lisa Zeitz.
A half-century ago, before the phrase "Pop Art" was even coined, a taxi tycoon named Robert C. Scull started buying up dozens of works by artists like Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol...
BEIJING — A new studio designed by Zeng Fanzhi is a vivid testament to the riches reaped by China’s hottest contemporary artists.
By HOLLAND COTTER
By PATRICIA ZOHN
By CHRISTOPHER KNIGHT