Louis V Koons

  • Louis V Koons


Jeff Koons is a man of no small measures. Last November he showed the city of Paris a small gesture of goodwill in the form of a glass bunch of flowers that cost (the Fonds pour Paris) around 3millions Euros to produce. Though the sculpture is yet to actually be made, Koons has not stopped in his creative surge. This year he is going even bigger.

Sticking to French ties Koons has become the next in a string of artists to design a collection of bags for Louis Vuitton. Commissioned by Delphine Arnault, Koons’ new line will be called ‘Masters’, channeling

the greats from the art historical cannon. Not only will these bags appropriate the old works directly, but just in case you were at a loss as to who painted the Mona Lisa, Koons has kindly added a name tag to each of his designs which , naturally, is in large golden letters.

For those who are a little shy of the top heavy price tag that Koons’ larger sculptures command, these bags start at just $3,200.  In effect it’s two for the price of one, buy one Koons get a Da Vinci (or Van Gogh, Titian, Rubens etc etc)

Koons states that  in making these works more accessible he is raising the awareness of the Old Masters, whilst others argue that Koons is merely inflating his own ego by insinuating that his artwork is on a par with the greatest.

So are these style steals or are they just incredibly expensive prints? When you look at prints sold by Koons, the spenniest of the lot would set you back a cool 1.45 million USD and yet just last July one of his pieces failed to sell against an estimate of just 800 to 1,200 pounds.

Whilst stylistically this new collaboration has no obvious artistic merit, it is a classic tongue in cheek contribution that has Koons written all over it.

These “marmite” bags as GQ has branded them, go on sale this week. So far the celebrities who have been associated with the bags include. So it begs the questions; how much were they paid to pose with the bags? Or how much would you pay to carry a little bit of the Mona Lisa around with you? Then finally, is replicating a piece so special, so delicate, so mysterious and so debated over nearly 600 years in the form of a bag, rather mocking of the original? For such pieces that have, and will continue to stand the test of time, being appreciated, challenged and intellectualised, will this Koons’ collaborated ever be mentioned in the history books of tomorrow, let alone in years to come?


Picasso for Pennies

Bonhams auctioneers have recently announced that they will be selling some ceramics made by Picasso in their October Impressionist and Modern Sale in Knightsbridge. These works, unlike his paintings all have rather reasonable estimates, with some starting at just £500-700. Although at this price the works are not literally selling for a few pennies, when compared to the cool £70 million that Picasso’s “Nude, green leaves and bust” sold for at a Sotheby’s evening sale in 2010, these prices do seem dramatically low.


That said, many of these are experimental works, and the prices justly reflect the disparity between the current value of paintings and ceramics. The works held at Bonhams are much more playful and simplistic than his paintings, to the extent that some may considered somewhat childish. This sale will be interesting to see how much people will be prepared to pay simply to have a Picasso, and to discover if the value of such an artist will be as important at the lower end of the auction spectrum.


The majority of these works were designed in the late 1940’s in the South of France by Picasso, where he was said to have inputted in over 3,500 different models. This vast scale, and the ease with which many of them were executed meant that Picasso sold many during his lifetime at low prices, with the idea that everyone should be able to own a Picasso. This ceramic production can be seen as either a clever marketing ploy to strengthen his “brand” or a way to sell himself out, placing money before art. Regardless of his motives, thanks to his clever collaboration with influential ceramicists at the Madoura Pottery workshop, these works at Bonhams are worth a second look, showing an interesting technique and of course demonstrating Picasso’s characteristic playful imagery.

If press coverage is starting already about these works, with the sale in October it will be interesting to see what happens closer to sale day. With such a small sale room at Knightsbridge it seems that perhaps Bonhams are not expecting these ceramics to draw in the big boys, or indeed, that many others.

Richard Rogers: Inside Out


Apart from being one of the titles of my A-level art projects, the heading “Inside Out” is instantly intriguing- to me at least. Of course, when you learn that Richard Rogers, the brains behind the Pompidou Centre and the Lloyds building in London is the architect to whom this exhibition is dedicated, things become a little more self-explanatory.

Exterior of the Lloyds buildingCTS-grey

I confess. I am no massive architecture expert, and whilst I appreciate the originality behind the Lloyds building for example, I can’t help but point out its inevitable flaws. Yes, the building has all the lifts on the outside, and yes, the entrance hall and vast underwriting floor is truly dramatic with its vast ceiling height and sense of grandeur. Ultimately, the lifts and pipes that have been moved to the exterior to give the interior more space may have functioned in the most important rooms, but where the majority of people work, the day-today offices really leave a lot to be desired. I’m talking low ceilings, a vast expanse of grey felty textures, very few windows (don’t even get me started on the issue of replacing the glass) and in reality you could be anywhere.  So if the building really was inverted it would be rather felty, uniform and grey. Which I suppose is of course the point of Rogers’ project, creating a change from the conventional monochrome high-rise to be found in the city, for me however, it is just a shame that the interior of the building is oh so mediocre.


That said. This exhibition at the RA was incredible (and free) really opening the term “architecture” and giving an interesting insight into Rogers’ reasoning. The phrases and motivational statements decorating many of the walls, were, for some reason, not overly cheesy in this instance and seemed “fit the space”. Definitely worth a look in if you happen to be frazzled after a long oxford street session or fancy a cultural digestif.

View from inside the Exhibition

The exhibition is in the Burlington Gardens section of the Royal Academy and runs until the 13th of October. (Access only via the back)




Turner Shortlist Announced.

ShingleyThis years Turner prize actually looks quite Exciting. Yesterday they announced the 2013 shortlist who will be exhibiting their work at the Tate Britain until December. The list stands as Tino Seghal who works with live audiences, Laure Prouvost, an installation artist and filmmaker, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye who created painted portraits of fictional people and finally my personal favorite  David Shrigley, who combines drawings photography and painting to create often humorous works. Shrigley, the Glaswegian artist will surely spark some debate with his whimsical line drawings, that to many won’t be considered Art.

It will be interesting to see what work he contributes to the exhibition, for although his postcards and prints are very witty, I think that perhaps his sculptural works are more intellectually engaging.


However, there seems to be a much better variety this year than before and it is refreshing to have an artist like Yiadom-Boakye who creates works solely in the painted medium. Her works comment on racial difference, challenging the way we “read” works. To me she is somewhat akin to Marlene Duchamp in the way she constructs her figures, although clearly they are very different in form.


The other two don’t really tickle my fancy, but who know what this year’s panel will say.

Manet Madness

Hurrah. Finally A Manet Exhibition not displaying his works amongst his more famous impressionist sucessors, falsely dubbing him as their “founder”. An impressionist he was not.
To me, Manet is a man to be admired. Although from a wealthy, educated background, he knew of the Salon rules and expectations, yet he was determined not to make his ART according to these rigid standards. He was, veManet- Picnic in the Gary much, the painter of modern life, depicting modern characters in modern settings but gaining inspiration from the Renaissance masters.
This exhibition at the RA shows some of his greatest work, (although my favorite Bar At the Folie Berges is in the Courtauld collection) including the famous Breakfast in the Garden with the strikingly apparent nude female depicted in a picnic scene on the outskirts of Paris.
Manet appropriated this stare onto many of his later works, including his Olympia, in which he takes inspiration from Titian and Velazquez. The direct gaze of the nude woman, combined with the harsh contrast of her fleshy tones against the lush background re-enforce the intentional nudity. Here is where the modernity lies. It would have been interesting to perhaps see these two great works amongst the exhibition, and perhaps fewer of Manet’s experimental portraits, nevertheless it is still definitely one worth seeing.
Manet: Portraying Life opens at the Royal Academy, W1 (020 7300 8000, royalacademy.org.uk), from Saturday until April 14. Open Sun-Thurs, 10am-6pm; Fri-Sat, 10am-11pm. Admission £15 (concs available). Special Sunday lates, 6.30-10pm, March 3-April 7 (except March 31), £30.

Tim Walker at Somerset House

Tim Walker at Somerset House

If you are in London and have a spare hour or two this week, I urge you to head to Somerset House to catch the last of Tim Walker’s (free) photography exhibition.

As one of Britain’s most influential fashion photographers, all the works shown have already been displayed on the pages of top international fashion magazines, such as British, French and Italian Vogue, Vanity Fair and W, yet there is nothing stale or recycled about this exhibition.  Imagination- we are told- is the crux of the exhibition, with the focus on preparation and a highly constructed composition rather than an over-manipulated digital image (something that Walker scorns at).

Most notably, the exhibition begins with a room filled with an almost life-size replica of a spitfire plane that was used on set to invade and penetrate domestic interiors. The highly tactile display combined with the surreal photography produced by Walker introduces an innovative narrative to all his work, challenging the viewer’s perception of what is real and what is imagined, what is seen and what is felt.


At the first glance it’s hard to believe that Walker’s images are not digitally manipulated, especially due to the intriguing smoky effect he so often achieves. Although undoubtedly fashion is the context for all of the images, due to their highly complex construction I would argue that the fashion element is sidelined in favour of a more compelling narrative.

There is no doubt that Walker is a storyteller, and as the so-titled exhibition evolves the spectator is introduced to an array of characters and bizarre creatures along the way. Naturally, with such a high profile photographer, several  famous faces such as Agnes Deyn, Helena Bonham Carter, Tim Burton and (lest we forget) several disturbing shots of Tilda Swinton are portrayed in an array of disguises as Walker continually surprises the viewer not only with his creative powers as a photographer, but with his technical talents too.

Each room is filled with inventions from Walker’s wild imagination that will keep you on your toes, although a word of warning goes out to those with fears of dolls, especially giant ones.

The exhibition runs until Sunday 27th January 2013, East Wing Galleries, Somerset House.

Sistine Chapel to Limit Visitors. Phew….I Think….

Today is the 500th anniversary of the unveiling of Michelangelo’s fresco’s in the Sistine Chapel.

As one of THE most popular tourist destinations ever, with an average 10,000 visitors a day and 30,000 on Sundays (when entry is free of course) the Italian government have decided to take some “basta”  all of  those bodily fluids that are damaging the precious frescoes.

The current air-con system, installed in the 1990’s is now obsolete, and instead of simply replacing it the Vatican have decided to re-think their entry policy. The Vatican, museums director Antonio Paolucci appointed a specialist company to design a new air-purifying system but as there is no current solution it looks like only option is to reduce the number of tourists allowed.

Anyone who has been to the chapel will know that it is invariably cram-packed full of tourists, and despite all of the signs declaring “silenzio” there is a continual stream of chatter  in an incomprehensible mix of languages. Definitely not an environment suitable to prayer. Nor is it suitable for the study and appreciation of the frescos, for you are more likely to be concentrating on keeping your bag from the prominent pickpockets than the beautiful modelling of Michelanelgo’s Last Judgement. 

Perhaps then, this new tourist restriction could restore some of the peace and magnificence intrinsic to such an important place. Although, if the queue’s were 3 hours before, without the restriction, who knows what they will be like when it’s inevitably imposed.