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.

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.

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.

Richter swipes the new auction record for any living artist.

£21, 321, 250. The Premium Price of the World’s most expensive artwork to be sold at auction by any living artist, and it happened this evening.


At 7pm the Contemporary art evening auction kicked off at Sotheby’s on Bond St, where lot number 15, Gerhard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild made it’s astonishing new record. With an estimate of 9,000,000 – 12,000,000 GBP the hammer price almost doubled this, with the work that according to the catalogue, “represents an all-enveloping evocation of a distinctly post-modern semblance” and is “a masterpiece of calculated chaos and paradigm of Gerhard Richter’s mature artistic and philosophical achievement”.

This work was always set to be the star of the show, with it’s bold, bright colours and large scale it dominates the room. Although another Richer entered into the sale, making a very notable 1.9million GBP it was nothing abstract away from good old lot 15.

The breaking of an auction record such as this, will help to dispel rumors of a collapsing art market after a somewhat nervous week of Frieze, where dealers have reported that a lack of American buyers has significantly reduced sales.



Una Bellissima Mostra a Dundee


Una bellissima mostra di Leonardo da Vinci a Dundee

10 disegni di Leonardo da Vinci alla McManus Gallery, a Dundee, che vi prego di andare a vedere……

Non ho sbagliato, davvero. Fidatevi. Tutti gli studenti di St Andrews conoscono la città di Dundee solo perché c’è Fat Sams, l’unico posto dove si può andare a ballare fino alle cinque di mattina. A Dundee ci sono parecchie gallerie d’arte, anche se non sono gallerie importanti. Di solito la McManus mostra solo dipinti d’artisti scozzesi, soventemente ritrovati in vecchie case.

Adesso, per la prima volta, c’è una piccola mostra per festeggiare il giubileo della regina, nella quale si trovano dieci disegni di Leonardo da Vinci.

Questa mostra vale le £5 che ci vogliono per andare fino a Dundee in autobus, perché la mostra è gratis! Infatti, quando sono andata era quasi deserta, a differenza delle folle che hanno visitato la mostra esibita negli ultimi anni, “Leonardo, painter at the Court of Milan”.  Durante la chiusura di questo evento alla National Gallery di Londra l’anno scorso, la gente faceva 6 ore di coda; fermi nel vento ghiacciato di Trafalgar Square, ci si chiedeva continuamente se ne valeva la pena.

Ovviamente, questa mostra non è dello stesso calibro di quella a Londra, ma i disegni sono comunque molto interessanti e importanti, tra i quali si trova La Testa di Leda, la figlia di Testio nella mitologia greca. Questo disegno proviene dal Castello Sforzesco, e secondo me questo è uno dei migliori tra i numerosi studi per la Leda.

Leda è ritratta a mezzobusto, in una torsione col busto verso destra e la testa a sinistra, leggermente reclinata. È un disegno tipico nelle opere della fase matura dell’artista, dove si vede la dolce espressione della donna, una riflessione verso se stessa. È notabile la delicatezza che Leonardo usa per disegnare i suoi capelli, che appaiono come se avessero vita propria, muovendosi come se fossero al vento.

Tutto sommato, questa è una mostra che decisivamente vale la pena. Per ne gode, dopo si può anche fare un giro di shopping nel centro di Dundee, seguito da una serata a Fat Sams….

La mostra fine la domenica il 4 novembre

The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery and Museum

Conatti: 01382 307200

Angel or Demon

Angel or Demon?


Since it’s erection in 1998 Anthony Gormely’s Angel of the North has sparked much debate. It’s imposing 20m high presence on the side of the A1 in Gateshead is impossible not to notice, with it’s rusted plane-like industrial 54 metre wingspan.

The question is, do people still appreciate Gormley’s sculpture or has it become something of an eyesore? Whilst traveling on the train to Scotland I overheard two middle aged women who- incidentally- were merrily munching on some pork pies and swigging on tins of pre-mixed bracardi and coke whilst dismissing, ‘that piece of junk’ and rolling their eyes at Gormley’s Angel.

As a longstanding appreciator of Gormely and his work, my opinion remains split on this piece. Where his installation Another Place on Crosby Beach connects the sculptures to the surrounding environment, presenting an ethereal, peaceful effect encouraging the contemplation of time and the selfThe Angel of the North has no human grace or poise, but stands tall like a past war monument left over from times of hardship and terror. For me it is too menacing to suggest contemplation and reflection, too industrial to be human, and perhaps just a bit too close to the roadside to be understood in context.

Gormley states, “People are always asking why an angel? The only response I can give is that no-one has ever seen one and we need to keep imagining them. The angel has three functions – firstly a historic one to remind us that below this site coal miners worked in the dark for two hundred years, secondly to grasp hold of the future expressing our transition from the industrial to the information age, and lastly to be a focus for our hopes and fears.” –

Perhaps then these women have forgotten their past, and have no fears other than  drinking too much bracardi and missing their train stop. Whizzing past on the train or motorway doesn’t allow for a proper glimpse of the sculpture, the image along with it’s message is blurred and confusing in the mind’s eye.

Tellingly upon it’s erection the Sun paper likened Gormley’s Angel to a monumental clanger, and many other tabloid’s were similarly unimpressed by the work. For something that is supposed to inspire the masses, sadly this work doesn’t quite translate.