British artist Damien Hirst has turned down an offer to become a Royal Academician at the Royal Academy in London, an institution that was founded in 1768 by King George III. The refusal was revealed by Secretary and Chief Executive Dr Charles Saumarez Smith CBE, who told the Evening Standard that he does not know the reasons of this decision. According to Saumarez Smith, there are artists who have accepted the invitation and others that have not, some of these are: Lucian Freud, Howard Hodgkin and Paula Rego. Other contemporary artists, such as Tracey Emin, who made her dirty bed an artistic installation, have accepted to become a Royal Academician.
Some artists who were formed in the 50s and 60s believed that the Royal Academy had become obsolete, but that has changed and the newer generations have supported the Academy.
Membership of the Royal Academy is made up of up to 80 practising artists, each elected by ballot of the General Assembly of the Royal Academy, and known individually as Royal Academicians (R.A.). The Royal Academy is governed by these Royal Academicians.
All RAs are entitled to exhibit up to six works in the annual Summer Exhibition. They also have the opportunity to exhibit their work in small exhibitions held in the Friends’ Room and are occasionally invited to hold major exhibitions in the Sackler Galleries. Many Academicians are involved in teaching in the Schools and giving lectures as part of the Royal Academy Education Programme.
Damien Hirst, the highest paid living artist and most provocative of the YBAs, is becoming a free agent. The art world’s answer to Reggie Jackson says he will sell his latest body of work at auction, circumventing de rigueur gallery sales. “The world is changing,” said Hirst, and as always, he’s ahead of the curve.
Hirst is a rare breed–both artist and salesman. This isn’t the first time he’s stunned the art world with his business savvy (and his dead animals). Back in November of 2003, the artist bought back 12 of his seminal pieces from benefactor Charles Saatchi for $15 million. By owning his key early work, Hirst sought to control his own market, deciding which pieces to hold on to or place in museums or collections. Were these works to be sold en masse, as Saatchi is known to do, the value of his works could have taken a substantial hit. This past February, Hirst also opened a store on High Street called Other Criteria, designed to “democratize” art–or at least commoditize it.
The Serpentine Gallery presents an exhibition of the work of the celebrated American artist Jeff Koons. This will be England’s first ever major survey of Koons’s work in a public gallery. For his exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, Jeff Koons presents works from his Popeye series, which he began in 2002. The works incorporate some of Koons’s signature ideas and motifs, including surreal combinations of everyday objects, cartoon imagery, art-historical references and children’s toys. The sculptures on show continue Koons’s interest in casting inflatable toys. Those typically used by children in a swimming pool are cast in aluminium, their surfaces painted to bear an uncanny resemblance to the original objects. On exhibition 2 July through 13 September, 2009.
Koons has used inflatables in his work since the late 1970s. He further develops his use of cast inflatables in the Popeye series by juxtaposing these replica ready-mades with unaltered everyday objects, such as chairs or rubbish bins. The paintings in the series are complex and layered compositions that combine disparate images both found and created by Koons, including images of the sculptures in the series.
Featuring loans from both public and private collections, the exhibition also includes works that have never been shown publicly before. The immediately recognisable figures of Popeye and Olive Oyl are central in the series and they appear in several prominent works within the exhibition. One of the most iconic American cartoon characters, Popeye was conceived 80 years ago this year in 1929 when the Great Depression was taking hold. In Popeye’s early years, the cartoon addressed the hardships and injustices of the time and, in this current period of economic recession, he is a fitting character to rediscover and explore. Jeff Koons: Popeye Series is curated by Julia Peyton-Jones, Director, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, and Kathryn Rattee, Curator, Serpentine Gallery.
Working in thematic series since the early 1980s, Koons has explored notions of consumerism, taste, banality, childhood and sexuality. He is known for his meticulously fabricated works that draw on a variety of objects and images from American and consumer culture.
Jeff Koons first exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery in 1991 as part of the group show Objects for the Ideal Home: The Legacy of Pop Art. His work also appeared in the exhibition Give and Take that was organised by the Serpentine Gallery and the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2000, and as part of In the darkest hour there may be light – works from Damien Hirst’s murderme collection at the Serpentine in 2006.
Koons took part in a headline event in the Serpentine Gallery’s summer events programme, Park Nights, in 2006. He appeared as part of a panel discussion involving Hans Ulrich Obrist and Rem Koolhaas, the architect of that year’s Serpentine Gallery Pavilion. Koons also contributed to Hans Ulrich Obrist’s recent book Formulas for Now, which was presented at the Serpentine Gallery Experiment Marathon in 2007.
Jeff Koons was born in York, Pennsylvania, 1955. His work has been widely exhibited internationally. His most recent solo exhibitions include presentations at the Château de Versailles, France; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, all in 2008. Koons lives and works in New York.
Serpentine Gallery is one of London’s best-loved galleries for modern and contemporary art. Its Exhibition, Architecture, Education and Public Programmes attract approximately 750,000 visitors a year and admission is free. In the grounds of the Gallery is a permanent work by artist and poet Ian Hamilton Finlay, dedicated to the Serpentine’s former Patron Diana, Princess of Wales. Visit : http://www.serpentinegallery.org/
The Royal Academy of Arts presents GSK Contemporary 2009, the second annual contemporary art season at 6 Burlington Gardens. Opening in December, Earth: Art of a changing world will present new and recent work from more than 30 leading international contemporary artists, including commissions and new works from the best emerging talent. The exhibition will introduce the key elements that make up the natural world, and the activities that affect the planet’s fragile equilibrium. Works by artists including Ackroyd & Harvey, Spencer Finch, Mona Hatoum and Marcos Lutyens & Marianantoni, engage with the earth, air, sky, nature and carbon elements to encourage a deeper consideration of our cultural relationship to earth’s stability.
Recent debates have centred less on the possibility and more on the certainty and speed with which climate change will take place. As the debate has developed, so too has our approach to the future. Co-curated by Kathleen Soriano, Director of Exhibitions at the Royal Academy, David Buckland, Director of Cape Farewell, and, Edith Devaney, Royal Academy, this exhibition will reflect the impact of the climate change debate on the practice of a broad range of contemporary artists across a wide variety of media.
Many of the artists featured are actively engaged with the issue itself, working directly to transform the global scale of climate change into a human narrative. Others have shown it to have a place, or to resonate, within their work. Earth will interconnect ‘issue’ and ‘art’, and will present works that are beautiful, powerful and thought-provoking. The exhibition will build on the power of the individual works to create an overall aesthetic, visual and experiential impact that explores some of the cultural impacts of climate change.
Artists such as Antti Laitinen and Edward Burtynsky will represent our contemporary world and will invoke a dialogue around the perceived security of our existence.
At the centre of the show, a group of exhibits will elucidate the role of the artist in the cycle of human and cultural evolution – as communicator, reflector and interpreter of key issues of the day. Within this section artists such Sophie Calle, Lucy & Jorge Orta, Cornelia Parker, the poet Lemn Sissay and Shiro Takatani hold up a mirror to our changing world, producing work that will encourage us to examine the issues from a variety of angles, to reflect and question. Other works will confront the viewer with the consequences of human behaviour through natural disasters and physical collapse, counterpoising the beauty of the planet with the damage that is being inflicted upon it.
The exhibition concludes with works that present a world of vision and of hope, but through the glass of reality. These works will reflect notions of beauty and inspiration fundamentally re-defined by climate change. This subtle shift represents the first major change in our view of the world since the first ‘whole earth images’ emerged as photographs taken from Apollo 8 in 1968, an image that anchors our contemporary perception of the beauty and fragility of the earth that has germinated new notions of care and empathy for our habitat. Works by artists such as the writer, Ian McEwan, Mariele Neudecker and Emma Wieslander will offer insight, vision and hope, responding powerfully to this cultural shift, some with a celebration of beauty and what we stand to lose. These artists approach this shift from various perspectives: some engaging with the rigour of scientific endeavour, others through the use of imagined worlds, film and music, delving into the emotional understanding of knowledge.
The Wikimedia Foundation, the non- profit organization which operates Wikipedia, has received a $300,000 Ford Foundation grant to make it easier for people around the world to participate in Wikimedia Commons, the Internet’s largest repository of high quality, freely reusable educational illustrations, photographs, maps, sound, and video files. Available in 85 languages, Wikimedia Commons is a global community dedicated to sharing media. The Wikimedia Commons also acts as the central multimedia library for Wikipedia. The Ford Foundation grant will support interface and work-flow improvements to make it much easier to contribute freely reusable content.
“The global community that is building Wikimedia Commons is setting the standard for the way that video and images are uploaded and shared through the Web,” said Jenny Toomey, a program officer for the Ford Foundation. “The whole process is simplified, promotes collaboration, and is driven by consensus among the community. Ultimately, this approach and others like it can help ensure that the Internet remains a rich and open space for learning, expression, and participation.”
Since Wikimedia Commons was founded in 2004, a strong community of international volunteers has formed to support its growth and development. Wikimedia Commons currently hosts more than 4.5 million freely reusable educational media files. Its files are used in thousands of educational and informational initiatives around the world, including in mass media and books.
“We are thrilled that the Ford Foundation is supporting this project,” said Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation. “We want to make uploading files to Commons as easy as possible, so that people everywhere can join us in helping Commons grow. The bigger Commons is, the more people it will serve.”
The grant will fund a project team to study challenges faced by new participants in Wikimedia Commons, as well as to identify best practices from other media sharing websites. Following a research phase, the team will design and implement a simple upload work-flow, enabling users to easily upload files, select licenses, and provide descriptions.
About The Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. For more than half a century it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
About The Wikimedia Foundation
The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization which operates Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. According to comScore Media Metrix, Wikipedia and the other projects operated by the Wikimedia Foundation receive more than 300 million unique visitors per month, making them the 4th most popular web property world-wide. Available in more than 265 languages, Wikipedia contains more than 12 million articles contributed by a global volunteer community of more than 100,000 people. Based in San Francisco, California, the Wikimedia Foundation is an audited, 501(c)(3) charity that is funded primarily through donations and grants.
Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction took place this evening and realised £19,063,350 / $31,778,604 / €22,513,816 selling 88% by lot and 86% by value. The top price was paid for Night Playground by Peter Doig (b.1959), 1997/98, an exemplary large scale painting described by the artist as one of his own favourites. It was offered at auction for the first time and realised £3,009,250 / $5,016,420 / €3,553,924, the second highest price for the artist at auction (estimate: £1.5 million to £2 million). A particularly rare urban view, the painting shows night falling on a city playground and portrays the contrast between nature and the man-made. At this evening’s auction, 4 works of art sold for over £1 million / 11 for over $1 million, and buyers (by lot / by origin) were 65% UK and Europe, 29% Americas and 6% Asia.
Francis Outred, International Director and Head of Post-War and Contemporary Art, Christie’s Europe: ‘We are delighted with the results of our sales tonight which continued the trend of strong sold rates seen in the first 6 months of this year at our international auctions. This evening, an active market saw 86% of lots find buyers in a sale that achieved strong prices – in particular, the outstanding result for Peter Doig’s ‘Night Playground’, which made the second highest price ever achieved for the artist at just over £3 million. What was most interesting was that 80% of works sold within or above their pre-sale estimates, and that we welcomed bids from a significant number of new collectors.’
Further highlights of the sale:
1025 Farben (1025 Colours) by Gerhard Richter (b.1932) realised £1,385,250 / $2,309,212 / €1,635,980, and was offered at auction for the first time having been in the ownership of the present European owner since 1974, the year in which it was painted. From a series considered to coincide with the most fruitful period in the artist’s career, the work sold this evening is from the last and most accomplished group of colour charts which he painted.
Country Nurse, 2003, by Richard Prince (b.1949), one of the largest works created for the artist’s celebrated and highly coveted Nurse series, sold for £1,721,250 / $2,869,324 / €2,032,796. For the Nurse series, Prince mined his own extensive collection of trashy romance novels from the 1950s and 1960s, lifting the protagonists and titles from their lurid covers and immersing them in layers of pigment. An exploration of female stereotypes, the series was subject to great attention in 2003 when Prince photographed Kate Moss for W magazine in front of one of his pictures while she was wearing a suggestive nurse’s outfit.
The auction offered 3 works by Jeff Koons (b. 1955) which represented three distinctive moments from the artist’s career, and all of which were offered at auction for the first time. Moustache, 2003, from the artist’s Popeye series sold this evening for £1,105,250 / $1,842,452 / €1,305,300. Flowers, 1986, from the artist’s Statuary series which also included his masterpiece, Rabbit, sold for £337,250 / $562,196 / €398,292; and Walrus (Blue), executed in 1999, sold for £361,250 / $602,204 / €426,636.
Untitled, by Cy Twombly (b.1928) realised £802,850 / $1,338,351 / €948,166, exceeding its pre-sale estimate of £500,000 to £700,000. This important work was executed in 1961, a watershed year in the artist’s career during which he created a number of masterpieces including the Ferragosto series which was recently united in an exhibition dedicated to the artist at Tate Modern last year.
· Rosso Gilera 60 1232 Rosso Guzzi 60 1305 by Alighiero Boetti (1940-1994) sold for £713,250 / $1,188,988 / €842,348 against a pre-sale estimate of £280,000 to £350,000 setting a record price for the artist at auction. Further artist records were established by Transiente by Julie Mehretu (b.1970) which realized £229,250 / $382,160 / €270,744; and Golden Independent Heart, 2004, a 4.5 metre tall, rotating heart made of plastic cutlery by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos (b.1971) whose work has never before been offered at an international auction and which sold for £163,250 / $272,138 / €192,798 (estimate: £80,000 to £120,000).