It’s been a confusing time in the art world over the last two weeks. Is the art world a dour, serious affair as envisioned in Okwui Enwezor’s Arsenale at the Venice Biennale (described by critic Benjamin Genocchio as ‘morose, joyless and ugly’)? Or is it the frothy, fun scene witnessed in New York last week with a record-breaking auction price being paid for a distinctly average Picasso? The difference is massive. For an art-lover like myself this boils down to whether I should be wearing an Anthony Vaccarello wrap-effect asymmetric leather mini-skirt (joyless but still sexy!) or a Tim Ryan multi-colour sleeveless fringed vest (frothy!)
Adel Abdessemed, Personne, 2014. artspace.com
I’m putting my money on the serious vibe so I’m going to slip into that leather skirt metaphorically at least. After all who would trust auctioneers and art fair weeks over serious exhibitions anchored around readings from Marx’s Das Kapital? So first on my wishlist this week is Hans-Ulrich Obrist’s old passport which is being auctioned off to raise funds for the magazine Bidoun (which like Das Kapital, I’ve heard of but never read). If anyone has put serious curating on the map, it’s HUO and I’m determined to own a bit of his rich journey through life and stroke it lovingly in the inside pocket of my Burberry Trench Coat with leather detailing as I pass through customs.
Secondly I’m looking to pick up a work by Adel Abdessemed whose installation is the rather startling opening to the Arsenale so I’m going for his charming drawing of a dog carrying a severed human hand that is available for $80,000 on artspace.com online emporium. Let’s just hope that’s the hand of those anti-Okwui critics out there I say!
Hans Bellmer, La Poupée (1936). Courtesy sothebys.com
In this new super-serious mood I would normally steer clear of art fairs, but new kid on the block Photo London comes with the backing of Maja Hoffman’s Luma Foundation so I’m more than happy to send our Deputy Editor down there to take a few selfies. And to signal that seriousness doesn’t preclude naughtiness I shall then be placing an absentee bid (visiting auction houses is now strictly a no-no for me) on Hans Belmer’s La Poupée (1936) that is estimated at £10,000-15,000 at Sotheby’s Photographs Auction in London on 23 May, the third item on my list.
Instead of being there myself I’ll be first in the queue at Bargain Booktime in Nottingham hoping that they might be getting in a few copies of my final item this week: the recently released very serious sounding book Frank Auerbach: Speaking and Painting by Catherine Lampert. And seeing as big Frank has been known to say things like 'I don't think Seurat would have been aware of the dots - he would have been aware of what he was trying to do, the dots were an instrument.' I’m hoping for more speaking and less painting!
Online exclusive published 19 May 2015