Celebrating today, on what would have been Robert Mapplethorpe’s 69th birthday
Born in Queens, NY, Robert Mapplethorpe attended classes at Parsons School of Design while he was a teenager, working mostly with collage and mixed media. There he met fellow artist and musician Patti Smith, who posed in some of his earliest portraits of famous figures, and developed his love of photography as a medium separate from his collages.
In the late 1960’s he worked as a photographer for Andy Warhol‘s Interview magazine. Mapplethorpe began taking Polaroids of his family, friends, and public personalities regularly, and in the late 1970s, focused primarily on intimate, sexually charged images, which is what brought Mapplethorpe significant critical attention. Mapplethorpe later did a series on female bodybuilder Lisa Lyons, as well as images of dramatic, classical nudes, carefully composed still lifes, and engaging portraits.
In 1986, he was diagnosed with AIDS, and over the next three years, continued to photograph fervently. He also established the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, dedicated to supporting photography and AIDS research. He had his first major American retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1988, just a year before his death
This past weekend saw the 42nd edition of the FIAC art fair at Paris’ Grand Palais. Director Jennifer Flay allowed only 170 participators from 22 countries to participate this year, tightening the selection by 21 entries from last year’s edition.
As a result, fair-goers — many of whom were enjoyed an extended trip fromlast week’s Frieze London — saw a more selective, curated display of works. And visitors reacted well to the more selective display of works, with participating galleries reporting strong sales throughout the fair. Hauser & Wirth gained attention for its presentation in honor of the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks while Gavin Brown’s Enterprise alluded to its own exclusivity with an automatic curtain that separated it from the rest of the fair and 303 Gallery adorned its booth with an edition Jeppe Hein wallpaper. (You can read more about the fair’s best booths here.)
2. Wirths Top List of Most Powerful People in Contemporary Art
Iwan and Manuela Wirth have officially been recognized as the most powerful people in contemporary art in 2015. The Swiss couple, co-founders of international gallery Hauser& Wirth, topped ArtReview’s Power 100 list. The Wirths, who were ranked at 3rd last year, have ascended the list due to their innovations in “the model of selling and promoting art.”
Mark Rappolt, the editor in chief of ArtReview magazine, elaborated that Hauser & Wirth has managed to combine the “institutional operations” of the art world and the “lifestyle of collecting” to build a global brand that is both intelligent and sensitive to clients’ wishes. The Hauser & Wirth brand also shows no signs of slowing its international influence, with the recent opening of a gallery in Somerset and an impending museum in Los Angeles. Dealers David Zwirner and Larry Gagosian (the only other deal to ever rank number 1 on the list, which he did in 2004 and 2010) joined the Wirths in the top 10 as well alongside artist Ai Weiwei and Marina Abromovic.
3. UK Museums Go On High Alert For Theft
In the first warning of its kind, the Arts Council England has warned British museums of a “sever and imminent” threat — that of theft. TheUK’s National Crime Agency has learned of a threat to smaller pieces across British artistic institutions.
The Crime Agency is, “aware of a group who has made reconnaissance visits to a number of museums and other venues across the UK. It is thought that smaller, more portable items will be targeted rather than items such as large paintings.” While the Agency would not comment as to how intelligence came to light, some suspect it came from an embedded or underground source. The need for increased security comes at a difficult time for British museums, who were struggling to balance their budgets already.
4. #LegosForWeiwei Takes Off Amid Lego’s Atempt to “Censor” the Artist
This week, Ai Weiwei took to Instagram to discuss LEGO’s recent denial to send him a bulk order of plastic bricks for an upcoming exhibition in Australia. While Lego stated that it “cannot approve the use of Legos for political works,” Weiwei called the denial an act of “censorship and discrimination.”
Following the Chinese artist’s post, some became suspicious that Lego was attempting to defend its corporate interests in China (including a forthcoming Legoland in Shanghai) and a hashtag calling for lego donations for Weiwei had taken off. Weiwei is working on the logistics of how to accept lego donations from his supporters, but with the UK’s Chinese ambassador dismissing his work earlier this week and his new three-year visa from Germany, Weiwei definitely has enough to deal with.
5. Not Everyone Loves Renoir
Not even the most recognized masters of painting are safe from criticism it seems. After picketing the Museum of Find Arts Boston, the “Renoir Sucks at Painting” group recently demonstrated outside New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Holding signs that read “ReNOir” and “God hates Renoir,” the protestors demonstrated against the museum’s inclusion of works by Renoir, who they deem untalented and over-hyped. The protest’s leader, Max Geller, founded the movement with a “Renoir Sucks at Painting” Instagram account and a national petition to remove the Renoir paintings from the National Gallery. “I hate Renoir because he is the most overrated artist east, west, north and south of the river Seine,” explained Geller. “Renoir just sucks at painting.” Despite the group’s strong setiments, the Met has not responded with any plans to remove their renown Renoir paintings.
Roy Lichtensteinwas an American pop artist. During the 1960s, along withAndy Warhol, Jasper Johns, andJames Rosenquistamong others, he became a leading figure in the new art movement. His work defined the basic premise of pop art through parody. Favoring the comic strip as his main inspiration, Lichtenstein produced hard-edged, precise compositions that documented while it parodied often in a tongue-in-cheek manner. His work was heavily influenced by both popular advertising and the comic book style. He described pop art as “not ‘American’ painting but actually industrial painting.