Flash News: Rubens at Victoria Beckham – Laure Prouvost

[29 Jun 2018]

Rubens at Victoria Beckham…

The collaboration might seem surprising… but in a quest to revive the image of “Old Master Art” and promote a number of works before their upcoming sale, Sotheby’s joined forces with one of the world’s leading names in fashion, Victoria Beckham. In fact, Sotheby’s chose Victoria Beckham’s Dover Street boutique in London to showcase sixteen Old Master masterpieces… all portraits by highly prestigious artists like Lucas Cranach the Elder, Peter Paul Rubens and Leonardo da Vinci. In terms of communication, there can be no doubt the operation was a success. The exhibition (during the Mayfair Art Week [22 – 27 June] and just a week before Sotheby’s prestigious Old Masters sale on 4 and 5 July) became the subject of hundreds of news articles around the world, promoting both the VB shop and the upcoming auction sale.

At the very least… Sotheby’s has dared to step outside the conventional and formulaic framework for exhibiting Old masterpieces, with the sale’s star lot – Peter Paul RUBENS’s Portrait of a Venetian Nobleman (estimated 4 – 5.5 million) – hung just a few inches above a steel handrail, not far from an elegant red dress fixed to the same wall. The ‘staging’ of the two ‘works’ is clearly good for the business and image of the fashionista. As for Sotheby’s… Victoria Beckham’s Instagram page has 21 million followers compared with just 658,000 for Sotheby’s. In short… VB has a massive influence on social networks.

Laure Prouvost: Venice… via London

Laure Prouvost is French, but built her career in England. At 18, she arrived in London to pursue art studies she had started in Belgium. In London she studied cinema at the prestigious Central Saint Martins School and pursued her training at Goldsmiths College. A few months after obtaining her last Master’s degree, the young artist received the Max Mara Prize (2011) which earned her an exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery. But her ‘international’ career really began two years later when she won the Turner Prize although a certain David Shrigley looked favourite to win the prestigious award. Above all, she was the first French artist to win the British career-booster. Thereafter she was offered numerous exhibitions all over the world including the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York in 2014 (Laure Prouvost: For Forgetting) followed by a first solo exhibition in France (We will go far, Rochechouart Museum, 2015) and then another at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo this year (Ring, sing and drink for trespassing, 22 June to 9 September 2018). Her latest career news could not be better as it includes the official nomination (in December 2017) to succeed Xavier Veilhan as France’s representative at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019.

Laure PROUVOST – who expresses herself through video, drawing, collage, photography, installation, ceramics and tapestry – displays a freedom of style and form that continues to seduce the juries of the most prestigious art prizes as well as museum curators. Her works have already been acquired by various public collections around the world, including the MAC / VAL of Vitry-sur-Seine, the Kunsthalle in Luzern and the Red Brick Art Museum in Beijing.

However – so far – Laure Prouvost’s success has had little impact on her secondary market prices; her best auction result to date is $12,000 for a 2010 installation sold at Christie’s in London (10 March 2017). The latest of her works submitted to bidders in London in March 2018 remained unsold. A priori a minor work (a ceramic measuring 22 centimeters, from an edition of 100), the painted teapot, offered with a low estimate of $845 (Forum Auction, London) and titled A Wantee Teapot, is an important work since it is directly related to her Wantee installation that was presented as part of the Schwitters in Britain exhibition at the Tate Britain in London. Wantee (“want tea?”) is an allusion to the nickname given to the companion of Dadaist Kurt Schwitters because of her propensity to offer him tea (“Do you want tea?”). To occupy her time between cups of tea, « Wantee » created ceramics… hence the presence of ceramics in this fictional installation in which Laure Prouvost invented a zany family story related to that of the Schwitters… an installation that earned her the Turner Prize…