Flash News: PhotoEspana – Anish Kapoor – M C Escher – Madrid – Versailles – London

[12 Jun 2015]


Every fortnight, Artprice provides a short round up of art market news: PhotoEspana – Anish Kapoor – M.C. Escher – Madrid – Versailles – Londres

PhotoEspana, Latin America and women
After having dedicated the previous edition to Iberian creation, this time the PhotoEspana festival is focussed on the Latin American scene (Madrid, 3 June–30 August) with a hundred exhibits and 395 artists presented, more than half of which come from the other side of the Atlantic. Notably, festival director Maria Gracia Yelo, wanted to highlight under-represented artists in the art world and since men emerge better and quicker than women, the festival is naturally recentred on women, as either the author or subject of the photograph. In addition to the discovery of young artists, some photography pioneers can be rediscovered, such as the Italian Tina MODOTTI and Mexican Lola ALVAREZ BRAVO, key personalities of the artistic Mexican renaissance. Inspired by Edward Henry WESTON and Tina Modotti, Lola Alvarez Bravo (1903-1993) was a close friend of Frida KAHLO, for whom she created numerous portraits. Also known for her work portraying daily life in Mexico, she was the first female photographer to exhibit her work at the Salón de la Plástica Mexicana. A major exhibit curated by James Oles was dedicated to him during the festival. On the market, the most costly photographs by Lola Alvarez Bravo are sold for approximately USD 5,000…thus its cost is particularly low considering its significance in Mexican photography. To give you an idea of the gulf separating Lola Alvarez Bravo and Manuel ÁLVAREZ BRAVO, we note that Lola’s most expensive snapshots are 50 times less expensive than those of her ex-husband (Manuel Álvarez Bravo holds the record with Portrait de L’Éternel, Mexico, 1935, sold for nearly USD 309,000 including fees on 19 November 2010 at Sotheby’s Paris).

Anish Kapoor and Versailles
The contemporary art exhibits at Versailles continue the historical tradition, that of Louis XIV who invited the greatest artists of his time to build Versailles. The major difference between yesterday and today is found in the ephemeral nature of the contemporary exhibits. Previous exhibits featuring Jeff Koons, Xavier Veilhan, Takashi Murakami, Bernar Venet, Joana Vasconcelos, Lee Ufan will have lasted a few months, such as that of Kapoor, open through 1 November 2015. In his dialogue with this highly charged historical place, Anish KAPOOR felt that the palace interior had no need for “decoration”. Thus he chose to embellish the exterior, in the Le Nôtre gardens and especially in the “Grande Perspective” which allows contemplation of the Grand Canal from the Galerie des Glaces. He also interceded in a “nook” of the gardens, the Bosquet de l’étoile, and made a foray in the Jeu de Paume space beyond the palace. Some people are raising controversy concerning Kapoor’s installation Dirty Corner, a 60-metre long sculpture weighing several thousand tonnes, in rusted steel, encircled by blocks of raw marble weighing 3 tons each.

Dirty Corner evokes an excavation both physical and symbolic of the entrails of Versailles, a space of obscurity in terms of open interpretation. Opponents make an unequivocal interpretation very far from the concerns of the artist, nicknaming the giant installation “the queen’s vagina”… This work seems to be created for Versailles as it is aligned with the Grand Canal, the garden and the palace. It will not stay there. Nevertheless, Kapoor has created imposing sculptures for perennial exhibits, including Porte des nuages (Cloud Gate) in Chicago, in polished steel. In Versailles, we find two sculptures in mirror-polished stainless steel, concave or convex, including Miroir du ciel (Sky mirror). The collector will find some Miroirs du ciel in auction houses, works generally three metres in size. They cost USD 400,000–500,000 less than 10 years ago. Today they are valued two to three times higher.

Major M.C. Escher retrospective in London
The Scottish National Gallery is hosting a major exhibit featuring Maurits Cornelis ESCHER (1898-1972), better known under the name M.C. Escher, 27 June–27 September, at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The Amazing World of M.C. Escher is composed of a hundred works, including numerous etchings, preparatory works and original designs showing an extraordinary ingenuity. Games of symmetry, repetition, transformation from one form to another, in the world revisited by M.C. Escher, where day coexists with night, stairs ascend and descend, the East and West intertwine, leaving North behind, and fish are transformed into fish with disconcerting fluidity. The impossible worlds invented by Escher fascinate the public and the exhibits featuring the artist are generally very popular, such as in Rio de Janeiro, where the Escher exhibit was the world’s most visited exhibit in 2011! Recognised in his time by the great surrealists from René Magritte (1898-1967) to Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), the artist is yet on the margin of all movements, showing tremendous independence. As a result he is less popular than the other great modern artists: his auction record holds at USD 205,000 for a majestic wood etching measuring four metres (Metamorphosis II, sold for USD 248,000 including fees in October 2008 at Sotheby’s London). However, Escher is not cheap: nearly 67% of his works have sold for more than USD 10,000.