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art

Bermuda Museum Honors John Lennon with Sculpture

More than three decades after John Lennon‘s untimely death, a Bermuda museum remembers him with a stylized sculpture. Writer Nancy Lazarus takes a closer look.

Double Fantasy Sculpture NL1The picturesque island of Bermuda is a long way and a far cry from the hectic urban settings of Liverpool, England where John Lennon grew up, and from New York City, where his life ended on December 8, 1980. The British musician and artist spent several months in Bermuda during his last trip abroad, and the island served as his muse. Bermuda pays special tribute with “Double Fantasy,” a sculpture dedicated last year in Lennon’s honor.

Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art commissioned local sculptor Graham Foster to create the six-foot Cor-Ten steel structure. The work shows a stylized double-sided profile of Lennon and his “granny” glasses with his Rickenbacker guitar, doves of peace, and the double fantasy freesia flower. At approximately 4,000 pounds, it’s a weighty piece, and sits on a raised flowerbed in a courtyard near the museum’s entrance. The sculpture is located in Bermuda’s Botanical Gardens, on the island’s south shore in Paget parish.
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Quote of Note | Sarah Lucas

(Sarah Lucas)“What are my thoughts about Christmas cards? Maybe it’s nice to receive a few from certain ­people, and send a few so they know you haven’t forgotten them. That’s about it. I don’t send many. I ­usually make my own. William Blake said that Christ is the Imagination. Not that He exists only in the ­imagination, but that He literally is the Imagination. So that’s a good argument for making your own. At least it’s outside of the racket. As for this one? Well, it’s for the turkeys, really!”

-Artist Sarah Lucas in The Guardian, for which she created this fowl-themed holiday greeting

Quote of Note | Ian Buruma

(Balthus)“To be sure, the marvelous paintings by Balthus of the twelve-year-old Thérèse [Blanchard], dreamily gazing at the viewer with her white panties showing (Thérèse with Cat, 1937), or the painting reproduced in the catalog of the nude Laurence Bataille (daughter of Georges Bataille) stretched back, cat-like, in a chair, while a sinister-looking person draws the curtains to throw light on her naked form (The Room, 1952–1954), are unsettling, but not because of anything pornographic….What is disturbing about Balthus’s pictures of girls is not just the age of his models, but the atmosphere, which is creepy, full of dread and latent violence, and yet extraordinarily beautiful. Girls are trapped in angular, often torturous poses in tight gloomy spaces. There is something in Balthus’s art of those claustrophobic Victorian novels about children locked up in dark attics.”

-Ian Buruma, writing in The New York Review of Books about “Balthus: Cats and Girls—Paintings and Provocations,” on view through January 12 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Pictured: Balthus. Thérèse Dreaming (1938)

Talkin’ Turkey with Norman Rockwell and Chef Tony Mantuano

Deborah Solomon‘s new book, American Mirror (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), reveals that Norman Rockwell wrestled with severe depression and was consumed by a sense of inadequacy, but today let’s focus on the turkey—specifically, the plump bird in Rockwell’s Freedom from Want. An image of the oil painting, part of a series illustrating President Franklin Roosevelt’s four freedoms, appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1943. The work is on view through January 27 at the Art Institute of Chicago as part of “Art and Appetite,” an exhibition that explores the tasty tradition of food and drink in American art. The museum cooked up this video with chef Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia that begins with Rockwell and ends with helpful tips on dressing your Thanksgiving turkey.

Rineke Dijkstra, Laurie Simmons, Hong Hao Among Photographers Shortlisted for Prix Pictet

(Hong Hao)
Hong Hao, “My Things No. 1″ (2001-2002)

Back for its fifth go-round, the Prix Pictet has announced the eleven photographers shortlisted for the purse of 100,000 Swiss francs (approximately $110,000, at current exchange). The entry-by-nomination international photography competition sponsored by Swiss bank Pictet & Cie seeks to promote sustainability, and this year’s theme is consumption. Selected for the shortlist by a jury that includes previous winner Luc Delahaye, architect Wang Shu, curator Elisabeth Sussman, and Martin Roth, director of the Victoria & Albert Museum, are: Adam Bartos, Motoyuki Daifu, Rineke Dijkstra, Hong Hao, Mishka Henner, Juan Fernando Herrán, Boris Mikhailov, Abraham Oghobase, Michael Schmidt, Allan Sekula (who passed away in August at the age of 62), and Laurie Simmons.
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Ed Ruscha’s Archive Acquired by Harry Ransom Center

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Photos from Ed Ruscha’s “Royal Road Test.” (Image courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.)

Ed Ruscha‘s silhouetted “Rooster” (1987) sold for a sweet $605,000 yesterday at Sotheby’s, but the real crowing is about Texas. This week the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin announced its acquisition of Ruscha’s archive. The trove includes five personal journals filled with preliminary sketches and notes; notes, photographs, correspondence, and contact sheets relating to the creation and publication of his artist’s books such as Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1962) and Every Building on the Sunset Strip (1966); and materials relating to his short films “Miracle” (1975) and “Premium” (1971). “The thought that my working documentation could be in this magnificent repository is a wonderful honor and destination of great respect,” said Ruscha in a statement. “I now see that the Ransom Center is the home to end all homes.”

Quote of Note | Hiroshi Sugimoto

(Hiroshi Sugimoto)
Hiroshi Sugimoto, “Sea of Japan, Rebun Island” 1996

“Humans have changed the landscape so much, but images of the sea could be shared with primordial people. I just project my imagination on to the viewer, even the first human being. I think first and then imagine some scenes. Then I go out and look for them. Or I re-create these images with my camera. I love photography because photography is the most believable medium. Painting can lie, but photography never lies: that is what people used to believe.”

-Hiroshi Sugimoto in an interview that appears in Art Studio America: Contemporary Artist Spaces, out later this month from Thames & Hudson

Big Time: Olafur Eliasson, Peter Zumthor Among New Mentors in Rolex Arts Initiative

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(Photos courtesy Studio Olafur Eliasson and Keystone/Christian Beutler)

Rolex’s Arts Initiative gives new meaning to the phrase “ones to watch.” For the past decade, the luxury watchmaker has paired mentors and protégés in dance, film, literature, music, theatre, visual arts, and—beginning last year—architecture for year-long creative collaborations. The program, which encourages dialogue between artists of different generations, cultures, and disciplines, has devised dynamic duos such as Anish Kapoor and Nicholas Hlobo, Zhang Yimou and Annemarie Jacir, and SANAA’s Kazuyo Sejima and Yang Zhao.

Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice was the setting for a festive gathering held earlier today to announce the seven creative wizards who will serve as mentors for the 2014-15 program: Olafur Eliasson (visual arts), Alejandro González Iñárritu (film), Michael Ondaatje (literature), Alexei Ratmansky (dance), Kaija Saariaho (music), Jennifer Tipton (theater), and Peter Zumthor (architecture). As for the emerging talents, it’s pick-your-own-protégé. Each of the mentors will choose a talented young artist to join them for a year of creative collaboration—and a grant of 25,000 Swiss francs (approximately $28,000, at current exchange rates).

The Art and Design of Deception: Documentary Tells Story of Secret WWII ‘Ghost Army’

Bill Blass Jeep
Friendly Ghost. Bill Blass somewhere in Europe, in a photo taken by his friend Bob Tompkins.

Inflatable tanks, sound effects, elaborately painted faux convoys, carefully crafted illusions. It was all in a day’s work for the American G.I.s—including Bill Blass, Ellsworth Kelly, and Art Kane—who artfully mislead the Axis forces on the battlefields of Europe during World War II. “They conducted 21 different deceptions, often operating within a few hundred yards of enemy lines,” filmmaker and author Rick Beyer tells us. “Their story was hushed up for more than 40 years.” Beyer brings it to light in The Ghost Army, a new documentary that will be screened on Thursday, October 17 at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (register here to attend). Beyer made time to tell us some ghost (army) stories in advance of next week’s screening.

How did you become interested/first learn about the story of this secret WWII unit?
I first learned about it eight years ago when a mutual friend introduced me to Martha Gavin, whose uncle, John Jarvie, served in the unit. Her enthusiasm was the spark that started the whole project. I have always loved quirky history stories, the strange, “can you believe it?” stuff. In fact, I’ve written an entire book series, The Greatest Stories Never Told, that focuses on just that. The idea that American soldiers in World War II went into battle with inflatable tanks and sound effects records was so bizarre, so contrary to every image from every war movie I’ve ever seen, that it immediately attracted my attention.

On top of that was the fact that many of the soldiers in the unit were artists, who used their spare time to paint and sketch what they saw on the battlefield. In fact, the first time I met Martha at a Boston area coffee shop, she was carrying an armload of three-ring binders filled with uncle’s wartime artworks. I was captivated with the way they presented such a unique and intimate perspective of the war. And that’s how I got hooked.

How were GIs selected to serve in this unit?
The Army threw the 23rd together in a hurry, in January 1944, so they assembled it from four pre-existing units. One was the 603rd Camouflage Engineers, which had been formed more than 18 months earlier. The Army had loaded the 603rd with artists, because their initial mission was camouflage. Some were recruited from art schools such as Pratt and Cooper Union. Word quickly spread to other artists interested in finding a way to put their art skills to use in war effort. (Or interested in finding a way to avoid ending up in the infantry!)

Similarly, the Army took a pre-existing radio unit and assigned it to The Ghost Army to handle radio deception. But because they wanted only the very best radio operators to carry out convincing deceptions, they pruned about 100 soldiers from the radio unit, and then plucked skilled men from other units around the country. In general, once it was formed, The Ghost Army had a very high priority status, and could whatever soldiers it wanted.
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Quote of Note | Pierre Huyghe

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From “Untilled” (2011-12), Pierre Huyghe’s Documenta 13 project, which was installed around a park’s compost heap.

“To a certain extent, I have always used animals in my work. This might have increased in recent years and become more overt. But even in my 20s, I did a show with a lot of animals. I think a major turning point, however, was my show at the National Museum of Art and Popular Traditions in Paris [2009-10]. I became fascinated by the work in progress. I realized that what I was more and more attracted to was the aspect that was undetermined. You frame a rule, set the conditions, but you cannot define how a given entity will interact with another. I can never fully determine what animals will do; it’s certainly not my aim to have one animal eat another, although that can happen. What I show is a set of elements and the way they collide, confront and agree with each other. In a certain way, I construct a play. I don’t want to exhibit something to someone any more. I want to do the reverse: I want to exhibit someone to something. It’s random… I don’t even know what will happen most of the time.”

-Artist Pierre Huyghe—whose first major retrospective at the Centre Pompidou features bees, spiders, and a dog—in an interview with The Art Newspaper

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