Tag: art

Rotten Russia: Snowden in; Altunin out

Thursday, 29 August, 2013 0 Comments

In his devastating New Yorker takedown of the traitorous Edward Snowden on 10 June, Jeffrey Toobin wrote: “Snowden fled to Hong Kong when he knew publication of his leaks was imminent… As a result, all of Snowden’s secrets may wind up in the hands of the Chinese government — which has no commitment at all to free speech or the right to political dissent. And that makes Snowden a hero?” But worse was to come. Snowden went from one ghastly tyranny to another: Russia. And there he found asylum at the hands of the tender Vladimir Putin.

That’s the same Putin who was depicted this week by the Russian artist Konstantin Altunin wearing women’s undies and fondly arranging the hair of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. For this “crime”, the Russian authorities removed four of Altunin’s satirical depictions of Russian politicians from St Petersburg’s Museum of Power and shut down the exhibition. Konstantin Altunin has fled Russia and is said to be seeking asylum in France. Meanwhile, in a perverse gesture of solidarity with the quisling Snowden, a group of cretinous German academics, the Vereinigung Deutscher Wissenschaftler, has decided to award him its “Whistleblower 2013” prize and €3,000. The real hero in this rotten Russia-centred drama, however, is Konstantin Altunin.

Putin on the style


Claude Monet and the Syrian connection

Wednesday, 19 June, 2013 0 Comments

This evening in London, Sotheby’s will auction 72 lots of Impressionist and modern art in one of the most anticipated sales of the year. When all the bidding’s done, Sotheby’s expects to have raked in more than £75 million. Undoubtedly, the star of show is Claude Monet’s gorgeous depiction of The Palazzo Contarini in Venice, which he painted during a three-month stay in the city in 1908. But it’s complicated.

Monet

What the Sotheby’s auction catalogue does not mention is that this particular Monet is from the collection of Helly Nahmad, a character for whom the adjective “colourful” was coined. The Nahmad family hails from Aleppo in Syria and its members operate art galleries in New York and London. Their collection of 3,000 works, including 200 oil paintings by Picasso, is valued at $5 billion by Skate’s Art Market Review.

Much to the surprise of its posh patrons, however, the Helly Nahmad Gallery in Manhattan was forced to shut its doors earlier this year after it was raided by US agents on the grounds that its owner was running a high-stakes gambling ring that catered to celebrities and the very wealthy. On 16 April, Helly Nahmad was charged with racketeering and money-laundering conspiracy. According to the indictment, Nahmad ran an operation that used illegal gambling websites to generate tens of millions of dollars in bets each year. The gambling ring was supported, in part, by the gallery, states the indictment. After such unpleasantness, it is a relief to lovers of modern art, no doubt, that the Helly Nahmad Gallery is open for business once more. The proceeds from this evening’s sale of The Palazzo Contarini painting, which should be spectacular, surely will comfort the proprietor during his difficulties.


A meshugener in the Haus der Kunst

Sunday, 14 April, 2013 0 Comments

When the Nazis decided to erect a monument, one that would glorify the concept of art as propaganda and venerate their Aryan supremacist ideology, they chose Munich, the “Capital of the Movement”, as the location. The Haus der Kunst (House of Art) “) at Prinzregentenstrasse 1 opened on 18 July 1937 with the Große Deutsche […]

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Bodies and Shadows: Caravaggio and His Legacy

Friday, 4 January, 2013 0 Comments

Founded in 1891 by Anthony J. Drexel, a financier and philanthropist, Drexel University is a private research institute located in Philadelphia. The Smart Set is an online magazine covering culture and ideas, arts and science, global and national affairs that is “generously supported by Drexel University”, and it kicked off the New Year in fine […]

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Reclining Josephsohns at Lismore Castle

Sunday, 2 December, 2012 0 Comments

The sculptor Hans Josephsohn was born in Kaliningrad, East Prussia in 1920, and he died in Zurich in August this year. At the time of his death, a major exhibition of his work was being held at Lismore Castle in Ireland. Josephsohn focused on the human figure — standing, sitting, reclining, made in plaster or […]

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A headhunter speaks

Tuesday, 9 October, 2012

“When I nominate someone for a top job in business, height is one of my most important criteria. Height instils respect, trust and authority. Tall people are visible, they can’t hide, they are masters, all nastiness air-blasted away, they have to stand up and be counted. Short people move around in the sediment, they have […]

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The Last Pictures show

Tuesday, 2 October, 2012

The public art organization Creative Time “commissions, produces, and presents art that breaks new ground, challenges the status quo, and infiltrates the public realm while engaging millions of people in New York City and across the globe.” One of these commissions was awarded to artist Trevor Paglen “to create a collection of images for the […]

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Summer in the Gatsby city

Wednesday, 18 July, 2012

Much of the greatness of Edward Hopper resided in his ability to paint silent spaces. His 1949 canvas “Summer in the City” reveals the solitude of two people sharing a hotel bedroom by suggesting that presence can sometime equal absence. Its presence here today heralds the start of the annual Rainy Day Great Gatsby reading, […]

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Ain’t it the truth

Friday, 17 February, 2012

Poorly Drawn Lines is the product of Reza Farazmand, who “draws comics and writes things.”

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Egon Schiele in red with snow

Sunday, 29 January, 2012

“When they came to his studio to place him under arrest, the police seized more than a hundred drawings which they considered pornographic. Schiele was imprisoned while awaiting his trial. When his case was brought before a judge, the charges of seduction and abduction were dropped, but the artist was found guilty of exhibiting erotic […]

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