A concrete building with plants and purple flowers outside it
A concrete building with plants and purple flowers outside it

The Hepworth Wakefield Museum which will acquire the work of the winner of the second edition of the Spirit Now London Acquisition Prize, supporting young female artists

Now in its second year, the Spirit Now London Acquisition Prize in partnership with Frieze London, brings together and celebrates young female artists offering them a chance to be recognised by leading art institutions

While contemporary women artists are commanding increasing investment and attention, the global art market remains under the sway of male creators. Marie-Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s Spirit Now London is aiming to keep women in the art world’s spotlight.

Created in 2015, Spirit Now London is a philanthropic community of patrons and collectors aiming to support emerging artists and cultural institutions, with a focus on the work of female artists. Last year, they allocated a £40,000 grant to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge to acquire works from the Spotlight section of Frieze Masters; Sylvia Snowden was the artist selected, with her work Brown – Yo II becoming part of the museum’s permanent collection.

A gold painting with a black and beige drawing in the centre on a canvas hung on a wall

Sylvia Snowden, Brown – Yo II, c. 1978. Courtesy the Artist and Franklin Parrasch Gallery. Photo by Michael Adair

The Prize’s second edition is being held this year and aims to recognise and celebrate the outstanding achievements of women artists under 40, allowing one female artist exhibiting at the fair the unique opportunity to have her work acquired and donated to The Hepworth Wakefield’s permanent collection. The Hepworth Wakefield is a publicly funded modern and contemporary art museum located in West Yorkshire, established in 2011 and designed by London-based architect Sir David Chipperfield. The museum draws inspiration from the legacy of renowned 20th-century sculptor Barbara Hepworth, and remains committed to showcasing the works of other talented women artists.

Eva Langret, Artistic Director at Frieze London, said the fair was “honoured to be partnering with Spirit Now London,” also commenting that: “gender parity in the arts is an important conversation, as despite perceived progress, women artists remain underrepresented and undervalued throughout galleries, museums and auction houses.”

A brunette woman wearing a black top standing in front of books

Marie-Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, founder of Spirit Now London

Headed by Marie-Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, founder of Spirit Now London, the 2023 Jury is composed of Laura Smith, Director of Collection & Exhibitions at The Hepworth Wakefield; Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield; and “The Spirit of Giving” Committee, featuring 16 international women, art patrons and collectors, active members from the Spirit Now London community.

The winning artist will be announced on 11th October

Find out more: spiritnowlondon.com

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A man sitting in a wheelchair, wearing red trousers, in a courtyard of a building with plants hanging over the interior balconies
A man sitting in a wheelchair, wearing red trousers, in a courtyard of a building with plants hanging over the interior balconies

Yinka Shonibare at the Guest Artists Space Foundation, Lagos, one of two artist residencies he has established in Nigeria

The Birtish-Nigerian artist and philanthropist is the official artist of, LUX’s partner, Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, at this year’s Frieze in London. In just a few short years, the Guest Artists Space Foundation spaces in Nigeria, founded by Yinka Shonibare, have seen art residences that are inspiring transformative creative conversations and programmes between artists, local communities, activists, ecologists and more. Will Fenstermaker reports

It used to be the case that if an artist working in Africa wanted a prestigious residency at which to hone their practice and dedicate uninterrupted time to their work, their best option was to look towards Europe and North America, where many programmes sought to address colonial legacies by strengthening a sense of artistic internationalism. A growing cadre of artists, including Kehinde Wiley and Yinka Shonibare, are now working to expand the opportunities available to African artists by opening residencies directly on the continent, especially focused around emerging art centres including Dakar, Senegal and Lagos, Nigeria.

clothes on the floor next to tapestries hanging on the walls

A view of “The Politics of Fabrics” exhibition by Samuel Nnorom

One such initiative is the Guest Artists Space (G.A.S.) Foundation, a non-profit established by Yinka Shonibare that occupies two sites in Nigeria. Through his programme Guest Projects London, Shonibare has hosted artists in his east London studio since 2006, more recently extending to the digital space, enabling “a laboratory of ideas and a testing ground for new thoughts and actions in which the possibility of failure became an opportunity for artistic growth”, according to its website. Shonibare, who was born in London and raised in Lagos, was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2004 for work that investigated postcolonial Nigerian identity, including whimsically ornate sculptures dressed in “African” textiles and shorn of their heads. In recent years, he considered how to extend his guest programme to offer opportunity, support and space for collaboration to artists within Africa.

A headless mannequin with a dress on it in a courtyard

A view of the inaugural exhibition, curated by Miriam Bettin, at the G.A.S. Farm House

In 2019, the project realised a kind of homecoming when Shonibare first conceived G.A.S., with two spaces in Nigeria completed by 2022. The idea is to develop artist practice and facilitate cultural exchange between the continent and the UK. “I realised a lot of local artists wanted platforms in which they could enhance their work and meet other international artists to exchange ideas,” says Shonibare in a video published by the foundation. “I felt very much that I’d love to contribute to building some of the institutions there.”

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The Oniru, Lagos residency occupies a building that fuses Yoruba and Brutalist principles around a central courtyard, and was designed by Ghanaian-British architect Elsie Owusu in collaboration with Nigerian architect Nihinlola Shonibare. The residency was made open to more than artists – its first class of 2022 included designers, architects, curators, economists and researchers, all of whom, Shonibare believed, were strengthened by a sense of interdisciplinary community and creative dialogue. “I feel that we’re creating a platform for conversation between local people and our residents,” Shonibare says. “I think you actually get the best out of creatives if you put them with people in other disciplines.”

people sitting in a circle holding as pink ribbon

A moment from performance artist Raymond Pinto’s movement workshop

G.A.S. also opened a rural second space three hours outside the capital near Ijebu Ode. Like the Oniru building, the residency in the Farm House, a sustainable building designed by Papa Omotayo with interior design by Temitayo Shonibare, strives to support a conception of culture beyond the visual arts. Belinda Holden, CEO of G.A.S. and the Yinka Shonibare Foundation, the residency’s sister organisation in London, says, “Ultimately, our mission is about breaking down barriers between cultural differences. It’s about building those bridges across different cultures and different practices, and allowing those conversations to develop into opportunities for the exchange of ideas and knowledge.”

A man wearing black trousers and a white short sleeve shirt with a black top underneath sitting on the floor with a geometric picture beside him

Artist Femi Johnson at work

Yet the residency does embody a certain remit. The pastoral property is on the site of a 54-acre working farm. Corn, cassava, peppers and cashews are all grown on Shonibare’s Ecology Green Farm, established in 2018. This July, the farm welcomed its third set of residents, having previously supported short-term stays for G.A.S. Lagos-based practitioners taking part in the programme. In 2022, as a result of its inaugural open call to artists and researchers living in West Africa, G.A.S. awarded seven funded residencies to individuals based across Nigeria and Benin. Raqs Media Collective was especially motivated by the setting’s ties to the land. At the G.A.S Farm House it established an outpost of the World Weather Network, a project that sees a global network of artists and writers submit “weather reports” in the form of works of art from a “constellation” of weather stations worldwide: In Peru, Luz María Bedoya and Pablo Hare record cloud, fog and associated sounds flowing over Oxapampa; in South Africa, four artists create odes to the Orange River; in Dhaka, in Death Valley, in Svalbard, correspondents from the London Review of Books send dispatches from the extremes of climate change.

A woman wearing a white and blue top painting on the floor with blue paint

Evan Ifekoya at their presentation “Water Is Life, O!”

During her stay at the G.A.S. Farm House, activist and spatial designer Mariam Hava Aslam began pickling foods from the farm, inspiring Apocalypse Pantry, a project that supplies preserves to food-scarce areas of Lagos. Berlin-based curator and researcher Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock invited artists to cook for residents and share their work over dinner.

Read more: An Interview with Maurizio Cattelan

“We’ve had painters, sculptors, writers, poets, architects. We’ve had digital artists, we’ve had archivists, we’ve had dancers, we’ve had sound designers,” continues Holden. And that’s only year one. “Our aim is that next year we’ll really shift our focus onto the farm and encourage agriculturalists who are interested in land, environment and ecological impact.” For the upcoming year, the foundation is looking to support people “who are considering food and ecology, or thinking about the materiality of the work they produce”.

Three people speaking including a woman wearing a black and white dress and a man wearing a striped yellow shirt

Discussing work by Emma Prempeh

From the start, the ambitious residencies have attracted an impressive amount of institutional attention – perhaps most significantly in the form of a recent donation of material from John Picton, Emeritus Professor at the Department of the History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS, University of London, and Sue Picton. Professor Picton, an expert on Yoruba and Edo (Benin) sculpture, spent decades assembling an important archive of West African art and ephemera, including journals, magazines, pamphlets and books covering Sub-Saharan architecture, textiles, sculpture and more, as well as African American and Black British arts. In 2022, Picton gave 1,500 volumes from the collection to G.A.S., a donation that has inspired the foundation to “look at the role of art libraries across Africa and the role they play in developing, educating and supporting the growth of creative and critical thinking and writing,” says Holden. To that end, this year G.A.S. is seeking fellows to be based in Lagos and focus their work around research into Picton’s archives.

A woman with a pony tail looking at a work of art hanging on a string with a man beside her looking at another work on the string wearing a green cap

A view of “The Last Time I Called…” exhibition by Ofem Ubi

In just a few short years, G.A.S. has become a beacon of artistic collaboration, cultural exchange and interdisciplinary dialogue. Shonibare’s vision to provide a platform for everyone has blossomed into a vibrant community that extends beyond visual arts, encompassing designers, architects, agriculturalists and ecologists. With its ambitions to break down traditional barriers that have separated the liberal arts, it has firmly established itself as a catalyst for creative and critical dialogue between two regions that have historically been defined by a very different, and much less egalitarian, form of intellectual and labour exchange.

guestartistsspace.com

Yinka Shonibare at Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge, Frieze London
Fittingly, for an endeavour that grew out of his artistic practice, Yinka Shonibare’s presentation in the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge at this year’s Frieze London includes a documentary that showcases the development and aims of Guest Artists Space Foundation. The film supplements a diverse array of visual works, including sculptures, masks, quilts and free-standing sculptures.

frieze.com/tags/frieze-london-2023

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Reading time: 7 min
photograph that looks like painting with swirly silver object and squares
photograph that looks like painting with swirly silver object and squares

Lost at the Beach. Image courtesy of the artist

New York-based architect-turned-artist Erin O’Keefe plays tricks with our perceptions with her photographs that look like graphic paintings. The Deutsche Bank Lounge Artist for Frieze New York 2022 speaks to LUX about the transition from being an architecture professor to an artist, how the disciplines are interconnected, and her inspirations from the original Bauhaus art school in Weimar Germany. Interview by Darius Sanai

LUX: Was your dream when you were younger to be an architect or an artist?
Erin O’Keefe: I always wanted to be an artist. Although I guess what that actually means is an open question. Architecture provided a way of supporting myself that felt super interesting, and teaching meant I could explore theoretical issues that have turned out to be relevant to my art practice.

LUX: Were you always fascinated by the crossover between architecture and art?
EOK: Thinking about how architecture is represented in painting and photography has always been a source of fascination. I particularly love the wrongness of space in early Renaissance paintings – it actually feels pretty liberating. And I’m interested in the fact that most of what I know about architecture has come through images rather than visiting the actual buildings – that seems perverse, but it’s true. So you need to become a good translator to make a bridge between a picture of the thing and the thing itself, but I think it’s actually impossible to get the two things to align.

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LUX: Are we right in seeing influences of the Bauhaus – the physical school itself and its teachers – in your career and your works?
EOK: Yes, absolutely – it’s a kind of touchstone for me, and the development of my practice. The sense of interconnectedness among the disciplines, and the primacy of making, were both things that feel relevant. I did the Albers colour exercises with my architecture students, which was really the beginning of thinking about the spatial impact of colour in my work.

photograph that looks like painting with pink black and silver elements

Fever. Image courtesy of the artist

LUX: How do you set out to create your works: what is the process of conception and execution? Are you looking for a particular effect on the perception of the viewer?
EOK: I am always looking for a condition of uncertainty in the images. Something that operates in multiple ways and is a bit destabilising for the viewer. I’m interested in the friction between the ordinary tactile objects and the unreality of the image.

My studio process is quite open-ended, lots of trial and error. Small shifts or alignments in the still life can transform the reading of the image, and that moment feels like magic to me.

Colour and light play a huge part in how the objects are perceived, and what they are capable of spatially. The objects themselves are made with the awareness of how they will operate in the photograph – although it’s always a very rough guess, and most of the time I discover possibilities that I couldn’t have anticipated.

blue and orange shapes in photograph

One Day Soon. Image courtesy of the artist

LUX: Please tell us a little about some of the works at Frieze NY.
EOK: The consistent focus of my work is the gap between the real condition and its representation in the photograph. For the work at Frieze, I became interested in perspective correction – meaning I can paint shapes on the ground and back wall of my still-life set-up that appear very differently in the image – a trompe-l’oeil situation in reverse. I’m also using paint in these photographs as a kind of camouflage to confuse or amplify a spatial condition.

LUX: What kind of a visual artist do you describe yourself as?
EOK: At this point, a photographer, as a way of underlining what these images are. People often mistake them for paintings, but the fact that they are photographs that utilise the language of painting feels like an important distinction.

Read more: Uplifting New Paintings by Sassan Behnam- Bakhtiar 

LUX: Do you still teach and if not, will you ever teach again?
EOK: I really loved teaching, but I’m glad to have the time and attention to devote to my practice. I do miss the studio interaction – architectural education is pretty unique. I have no plans to teach in the future, but who knows?

Find out more: erinokeefe.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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A girl posing in an art gallery and a man taking a photo on his IPhone
A girl posing in an art gallery and a man taking a photo on his IPhone

VOLTA Art Fair. New York City. Photo: David Willems

Kamiar Maleki entered the art world at a young age and quickly became a leading curator and collector. Now Director of Volta Art Fairs, he speaks to Contributing Editor, Samantha Welsh, about the opportunities Volta is creating for new galleries and artists, ahead of the opening of the fair in New York on 18 May
A man wearing a suit, white shirt and green tie

Kamiar Maleki. Photo by Kenneth Nars

LUX: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and where you spent your formative years?
Kamiar Maleki: I was born in Iran in 1978 to a family of politicians, military generals, and diplomats. We escaped Iran in early 1979 before the revolution. My formative years came thereafter, spent between France, USA, Germany, and the UK.

LUX: How did your appreciation for art become a compulsion to discover and collect?
KM: My appreciation for art started in Germany. I remember seeing sculptures by Niki De Saint Phalle in the squares of Germany and was mesmerised by them. We also spent much time in Vienna, where my parents exposed us to galleries, museums, and the theatre. My love of art transitioned from a love of sculpture to painting and then well beyond.

The compulsion to collect came after college. As a gift, my father gave my brother and I funds with which to begin our collections. These funds came with a condition. We were advised to extensively research and pitch to him the merit of works we wanted to acquire. If we wanted to sell anything, we had to follow the same philosophy and were required to reinvest the proceeds back into art. This activity functioned as our own personal art fund in a way. I was lucky to discover some gems early on during this period, from Ged Quinn to Oscar Murillo. The discovery of new talent became a compulsion — I truly loved meeting, supporting, and cultivating fresh talent.

two people looking at abstract art on the wall

VOLTA Art Fair. New York City. Photo: David Willems

LUX: Over time have you evolved personal guiding principles?
KM: Absolutely. The more art you see, the more you read, the broader the mindset becomes. Your ideas change as well as your tastes. You learn to hone your eye.

LUX: Is there a conversation to be had about how we buy and show art?
KM: Yes, I believe progress is always centered on continuing to question existing models. Whether through my curatorial work or my involvement in the market, I have a practical understanding of how connoisseurs and collectors discover new artists:

The art world is a social market and it operates cyclically, like a traveling nexus. If you’re setting out to expose seasoned collectors to new talent, you need proximity, both geographically and ideologically, to the key players of the art market.

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Six years ago, I curated my first show on how one buys, sells and researches art on platforms like Instagram, having bought my first piece on Instagram over seven years ago. Just last summer, I curated the very first art-in-residency program to create NFTs by collaborating with different industries, across the music industry, digital art and traditional art.

It is the responsibility of the curator or director to vet quality and content, to ensure that what you present resonates across audiences. Through exposure and education, there exists the possibility to reinvigorate how we transact.

A woman staring at a black piece of art of coming out of the wall

VOLTA Art Fair. New York City. Photo: David Willems

LUX: What was the pull for you to work for Will Ramsay of Ramsay Fairs to lead Volta Art Fair?
KM: I identified in Volta — and by extension Ramsay Fairs — a fair model that mirrored my approach to the art market. I gravitate towards discovery and towards support of galleries, artists, and platforms that posit new and fresh ideas. I see profound opportunity in the role Volta plays as a complement to the entrenched fairs in the art market’s capitals.

LUX: ‘From adversity comes opportunity!’  During the two years of the pandemic you have rebuilt and reset your pillars to ‘Discover. Connect. Collect’.  What does this entail?
KM: I am confident that after the statewide pause in New York and several challenging years globally, VOLTA can reestablish its foothold as a strong emerging- to mid-market platform at the heart of New York’s fair season.

With the May art fair calendar in New York undergoing significant transitions in the past few years, we’re energised by the chance to align Volta with Frieze Art Fair. We have the opportunity to expose new and established collectors to a distinct roster of new and returning galleries unique to Volta. Despite the challenges we faced these past years, those galleries that have emerged have done so with a newfound commitment to their program — and we have as well.

LUX: At a personal level, you mentor artists and gallerists; how do you manage this day to day?
KM: In all honesty, it has become a bit more difficult, as I am committed to fulfilling my role as director of Volta which requires a lot of travel and long hours. I’ve reframed my responsibilities to strengthen the fair’s program and to create a platform that supports our gallery network. In focusing my attention on supporting the galleries, the artists are supported by extension.

A woman showing people an art work of flowers painted on a canvas

VOLTA Art Fair. New York City. Photo: David Willems

LUX: How is Volta positioned for multi-media presentation, viewing rooms and so on?
KM: We leverage our website, the Volta Voices blog, and social media as a tool to communicate the highlights of our fair program, but we remain committed now more than ever to the in-person experience. When you navigate a fair comprised of legacy, blue-chip galleries, you’re often confronted by artworks and artists with whom you are already familiar. Our gallery roster is more experimental and less universally recognised — and that for us is very exciting! The experience of seeing the work in person and dialoguing with the gallery or artist directly at Volta is what marks that critical point of discovery and therefore distinguishes us.

Read more: 6 Questions: Bettina Korek, Serpentine Galleries

LUX: At the same time, Volta has upscaled experiential engagement, leasing a 40,000 flagship for Frieze NY.  What are you showcasing this year?
KM: At the heart of Volta New York’s program, and taking up the majority of our real estate, is a dynamic roster of over 50 galleries, some of which join us for the first time, others who previously exhibited with Volta in 2014, or 2019, and have since returned to us. Having these galleries join us on our journey has been critical to our success and therefore they are the focal point of this year’s program.

Beyond our exciting roster of exhibitors, we are welcoming several new programming partners to activate the space. For instance, we will be co-presenting the Volta Spotlight Prize with an exciting NFT platform with whom we’ve partnered. Given that we are able to congregate in person again, we’re also quite looking forward to the return of our full-service café and lounge.

A mother and child standing in front of a wall installation

VOLTA Art Fair. New York City. Photo: David Willems

LUX: How are you finding young artists are reacting to new realities, disruption and distortion?
KM: Beyond the logistical challenges, I see a renewed fervour to create and a strengthen commitment to their practice. So many artists were unable to visit their studios, to source materials, and to exhibit their work. It led to a need to innovate and adapt, hence the proliferation of digital media and new modes of creation. Now I think this digital sensibility or lens has infiltrated the market. Yet, there is still a deep desire to return to experiences, to in-person connection, to tactility.

LUX: Through ‘Volta Voices’ how are you championing emerging talent?
KM: VOLTA Voices is our online editorial platform that features a series of interviews with vanguards of the contemporary art world and friends of Volta , past, present and future. We pride ourselves on welcoming cutting edge, pioneering galleries to Volta. By extension, we see Volta Voices as yet another platform for our exhibitors to communicate their unique vision and that of their artists.

LUX: What advice will you give your children when they embark on their collecting journey?
KM: Stay curious. Don’t let the market dictate where you seek out new artists. Follow what speaks to you, ask lots of questions, and be willing to discover.

Find out more: voltaartfairs.com

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Reading time: 7 min
two champagne bottles
two bottles

Ruinart recently launched its ‘second skin’ case, a stylish and more sustainable alternative to the traditional champagne gift box, as pictured above with the Brut Rosé NV and Blanc de Blanc .

Sometimes it’s the supplementary parts of art fairs that we miss the most. For yesterday’s virtual preview of Frieze art fair, we recreated the most excellent private Ruinart champagne event, which usually takes place this week, with a little tasting of their range at home

What will you miss most about the seminal Frieze London Art Fair moving this year from tents in Regent’s Park to an online-only existence, prompted by the pandemic?

Perhaps it will be the frisson of excitement of bumping in to collectors, curators and dealers from around the world expressing their way between the different booths at the pre-preview. Or maybe it will be the talks; or the onsite cafés, where can find yourself standing next to a museum director from LA and a young billionaire from Shanghai while sipping a cup of coffee and finding there is nowhere to sit and catch up on emails. Or, if you are fortunate, the buzz of the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management lounges, where collectors and private bank clients gather to sip on endless champagne and nibble perfect canapés.

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Then there is the physical art, of course. The two fairs, Frieze London and Frieze Masters, at opposite ends of the park, which at best offer an unparalleled art museum experience – a walk around Frieze Masters in particular affords a view of some of the most significant artworks in the world, perhaps on display for the last time in decades or centuries.

artist sketch

A print from David Shrigley x Ruinart’s ‘Unconventional Bubbles’ Series that was scheduled to feature in The Ruinart Art bar at Frieze 2020

We are missing all of that, but on a more social note, we also missed the brilliant annual Ruinart event in their VIP zone. This low-key gathering always brings together a selection of art collectors, artists, champagne connoisseurs and selected media, and feels very old school and decadent in offering an unlimited flow of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs in the late afternoon of the preview day.

Read more: British artist Marc Quinn on history in the making

For anyone who is a connoisseur of both art and champagne, it is also unique, as the champagne on offer at art events around the world is usually only marginally better than at fashion events, which is to say standard issue and not very interesting at all. The Blanc de Blancs is in a different league.

There was no Ruinart event this year, so LUX decided to create our own, by tasting a range of the Maison’s champagnes, with a couple of our favourite people, while clicking through some excellent artworks on a laptop. Needs must.

Our tasting notes are as follows:

champagne bottle

Ruinart Brut NV

Ruinart Brut Non Vintage
In years past, this was a slight and rather forgettable champagne. But, unlike the stick thin Frieze Art Fair VIP guests, it has gained a little weight in all the right places, without requiring any liposuction. Lean but muscular, it is eminently drinkable, and disappears quickly – like a Frieze VIP in search of a Julian Schnabel on the morning of preview day. Maybe not the most memorable companion but easy-going and easy to introduce to anybody.

Ruinart Brut Rosé
A little bit more spicy and fruity, as befits it medium pink palate. Good company, effortlessly enjoyable and also noticeable, not anodyne; and we never felt we had too much of it. Not flirty like some rosés, and not ponderous and serious like others. Just right, like a good art advisor.

green champagne bottle

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2007

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs
There is, in our view, no better daytime art fair companion than this. Rounded, well formed, well educated, with years of expertise behind it like stumbling on a fabulous sixties pop artist at an unexpected booth. Aesthetically pleasing and rich, like many preview day guests. Buy, buy!

Dom Ruinart Vintage 2007
In a different league altogether. Like walking into a VIP lounge at frieze masters and chatting to Gerhard Richter (note, this has never happened). Delicate, aesthetic yet serious and multilayered, a companion you could be with it all night and not feel weighed down, and you would seek its company again and again. Like a Richter, there is always something else to notice about it.

Dom Ruinart Rosé Vintage 2007
Have you ever bumped in to has Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Olafur Eliasson having a banter at the bar at the Christie’s Vanity Fair Frieze party at midnight? Nor have we, but we reckon this is what it would be like. Engaging, by turns delightful and intellectual, and with deal depth and rigour underneath the fun facade. An ideal guest to the perfect dinner party. Or art fair.

Darius Sanai

Find out more: ruinart.com

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Reading time: 4 min
photograph of pink fields
Contemporary artwork

Crown (2006) by Wangechi Mutu. Courtesy of Deutsche Bank Collection

One of the key elements of this year’s edition of Frieze New York was to have been an exhibition drawn from the legendary art collection of Deutsche Bank, to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The fair may have been postponed, but the significance of the collection, its works and ethos, is undimmed, says Wallace Ludel

At Deutsche Bank’s headquarters in New York, several hundred exceptional works of art are hung throughout the building’s 47 floors. The Wall Street tower was built in the 1980s and certain floors still retain that era’s American wooden-clad banking aesthetic; long oak and cherry desks and accents provide a warmer, more characterful context for the high-calibre artworks than a typical white-cube gallery setting. The click of dress shoes and hum of conference calls in the background create an atmosphere quite unlike the usual art exhibition experience.

The artworks displayed here represent only a fraction of one of the largest corporate art collections in the world, comprising over 55,000 important pieces.

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Deutsche Bank employees are proud of the art that surrounds them, says Friedhelm Hütte, the bank’s global Head of Art. “They feel it helps the company and it does so not only in a general way but also when meeting with clients and prospective clients, because more and more people are interested in art, in going to exhibitions, or wanting to collect.”

photograph of pink fields

Düsseldorf (2018) #1 (2018) by Maria Hassabi. Courtesy of Deutsche Bank Collection

In 2020, Deutsche Bank is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its art collection, as well as the company’s 150th anniversary. Part of the celebration was intended to involve a major exhibition at Frieze New York. The show, titled ‘Portrait of a Collection’, brought together works from more than 40 artists from the bank’s holdings, including works by Wangechi Mutu, Amy Sillman, Glenn Ligon, Camille Henrot, Lucy Dodd, Hank Willis Thomas and many more. And although the fair was cancelled, the importance of the artworks and the philosophy of the collection remains as relevant as ever.

“Deutsche Bank has both the foresight to champion artists such as these in the early stages of their careers, and the power to contextualize them alongside an established canon within their collection,” Loring Randolph, Director of Frieze New York, tells LUX. She adds that Frieze and the bank are “aligned in their commitment to innovative curatorial programming and public art initiatives, including our mutual support and enthusiasm for artists.”

Purple hills of a landscape

Sugar Ray from the series ‘The Enclave’ (2012) by Richard Mosse. Courtesy of Deutsche Bank Collection. © Richard Mosse, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, photo Argenis Apolinario.

While Deutsche Bank’s enormous collection spans many decades and various movements of contemporary art, it does have a few points of focus – one being that the vast majority are works on paper. In this respect, Hütte and his team bucked the trend. “The bank decided to focus on an area in contemporary art that’s not so often covered by museums or private collectors,” Hütte says. “We wanted to build a collection that had a smaller focus placed on it. We now have one of the most important collections of post-1945 works made on paper in the world, even when compared with museums of the same era. This has allowed us to function as a kind of archive for artists and museums.”

Read more: Artist Peter Schuyff on the spirituality of painting nothing

Preparatory drawings for larger projects, including studies for public projects by Christo and mural-sized paintings by James Rosenquist, constitute this informal archive. Hütte says he is fascinated by the way these works illuminate the artists’ creative processes. The insights they provide are worth pursuing. “If you are not an expert in art, you can see these works and understand more about how an artist is developing his or her ideas. You see the moment of invention and of introducing something new. This is very much linked to business, and the ways we come up with new ideas.”

“We are always looking to discover new artists,” says Hütte, adding that this “doesn’t mean that the artist has to be young; it could be that an artist is older but hasn’t found the success that we feel he or she should have.” Supporting emerging artists is also a financially advantageous approach; the company does not have to lavish the same kind of sums on their artworks that collectors often pay for well-established artists. Hütte says that the bank, which has high-profile art hanging in offices all over the world, relies on the experience of their own team of curators and – in some cases – regional art experts to look out for creative talent. Additionally, the bank employs staff to oversee the collection, arrange exhibitions, facilitate loans and more.

Photograph of women

Four Little Girls (blue and white) (2018) by Hank Willis Thomas. © Hank Willis Thomas, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

While the biggest concentrations of works from the collection hang in the private offices of Frankfurt, London and New York, the bank opened its new museum-quality exhibition space and cultural programme, Berlin’s Palais Populaire, to the public in 2018. However, you may not have to travel to Berlin to explore the art from the company’s private collection. “We loan artworks to museums on a regular basis – normally every week,” explains Hütte. “We feel we have to support the museums and the artists, so there’s no ulterior reason. We give works for temporary exhibitions as well as for more or less permanent loans; for example, we recently loaned 600 works to the Städel Museum in Frankfurt.”

The Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year

One of Deutsche Bank’s initiatives to support young artists is their ongoing Artist of the Year programme. Previous winners include Wangechi Mutu in 2010, Yto Barrada in 2011 and Roman Ondak in 2012. All have since gone on to have exceptional careers. “It’s not simply a prize of a sum of money; it’s really to support the artist so they can reach a new level,” explains Hütte. The artist is selected with the recommendation of the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council, whose council members have included the curators Udo Kittelmann, Victoria Noorthoorn, Hou Hanru and the late Okwui Enwezor. The winning artist is given a solo exhibition – the 2018 winner, Lebanese artist Caline Aoun, held her show at the Palais Populaire – with a published catalogue of their work. “Most often, it’s the first large catalogue for this artist, and it’s normally their first museum exhibition. We also buy works from the artist for our collection,” says Hütte.

Discover the collection: art.db.com

This article will also be published in the Summer 2020 Issue, out later this month.

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Artist portrait of a branch
Artist portrait of a branch

Flow Diptych, Part 2 of 2 by Vik Muniz, for the 2019 Ruinart Carte Blanche commission and installed at the Ruinart Art Bar at Frieze London 2019

Brazilian photographer Vik Muniz has responded to Ruinart’s Carte Blanche commission by going back to the roots

“A photograph marks a moment in time,” says Vik Muniz. We sit surrounded by his latest photographic series, ‘Shared Roots’, in the Ruinart champagne bar at the 2019 Frieze London. “One way or another, everything fades and everything ceases to be. Photography is one way for you to hold on a little longer.”

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The Brazilian-born artist is fascinated by the fragile materiality of photography. “Visual technology broke a membrane, and the image became autonomous from any material relationship,” he says. “Our relationship to facts is getting more and more problematic. The idea of information, the idea of representation, is completely disconnected from tangibility, from facts. Psychologically, that has an effect. And, I chose to go in the opposite direction and make things that we have not lost. They require physical presence, they are heavy, even though they’re photographs.” The photographs around us are rooted in this physicality. Muniz used wood and charcoal to create temporary sculptures of hands clutching gnarled vines, captured in overexposed, grainy monochrome. “There is an architecture when you make art,” he says, “I find it quite pyramidal. The base of it has to be optical, haptic, sensory, perceptual. You have to have a physical reaction to it.”

Find out more: ruinart.com

This article was originally published in Spring 2020 Issue.

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Abstract painting in bleached colours
Portrait painting of a woman's face

‘Twenty Seventeen’ (2017), by Luc Tuymans, Pinault Collection

Favouring themes of conflict, violence and death, renowned Belgian painter Luc Tuymans fulfils the brief of brooding artist, yet his work is deeply layered and complex. With two major retrospectives on his work being held in Europe this year, Millie Walton meets the man behind the canvas
Painter Luc Tuymans in his studio

The artist in his Antwerp studio

Through a garage door and down a wide passageway: a man’s bleached face stares blankly ahead with large, piercing eyes. To the right, there are two more enormous pale faces. “These are dead people,” Luc Tuymans says of the series of three portraits hanging in his studio in Antwerp. They will soon be shipped off to form part of his upcoming show at De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art in the Netherlands, one of two major retrospectives this year. We sit on two sagging armchairs; there’s a small table between us with a cup of cold black coffee and in front of us, another much smaller painting of a ghostly, hooded figure tacked onto the wall with masking tape. It’s a present for the director of De Pont, Tuymans tells me, lighting up the first of many cigarettes. Apart from the paintings and a table stacked with paper and dried-up paint mounds, the studio is stark, almost blindingly white in the sunshine. A former laundrette, Tuymans bought it over ten years ago, having previously worked in a much smaller apartment, which looked “more like Francis Bacon’s studio”. This place, he says, is, “antiseptic, but it works well”.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The Belgian artist famously completes most of his works in one day, giving the impression of a feverish outpouring of creativity, but really the works have been brewing for some time, often for months, before Tuymans applies paint to canvas. For him, the process begins with a careful curation of pre-existing imagery, drawings, Polaroids and photos he takes on his iPhone, or things he encounters online. He selects his source material according to its relevance and paintability, by which he means, “what kind of kick I can get out of it”. Considering that much of his subject matter is violent, morbid or at the very least, deeply cynical, we might consider these ‘kicks’ to be somewhat sadistic.

Painting of a target with blue centre

‘Disenchantment’ (1990), by Luc Tuymans, private collection

Right from the start of his 40-year career, Tuymans has been depicted by the media as the brooding artist, in part due to his intimidatingly large physical presence and flickering eyes, but also because of his ongoing fascination with the darker corners of European history and reluctant approach to beauty. Speaking of his current retrospective exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, he laughs growlingly at the idea that people might consider his paintings beautiful. In the press video for the show, he is depicted as a stereotypical villain lurking in dark alleyways and brandishing his paintbrushes as weapons. It says a lot that Tuymans himself made the short film.

Collage painting of a man wearing sunglasses

‘Die Zeit (pt 4/4)’ (1988), by Luc Tuymans, private collection

And yet, something in Tuymans tells you not to trust appearances. Just as his paintings may appear prosaic in their imagery, their significance is deeply layered. To view his work is to enter into a game in which you neither know the rules nor the aim. “You could actually see my work as the deep web, or the precursor of it,” says Tuymans with a slight smile, making it hard to gauge how seriously to take such statements. Nevertheless, his practice is certainly preoccupied with peripheries, hidden objects and meanings, things the ordinary eye would ignore or miss. There is a tension in his paintings between uncovering and disguising, remembering and disremembering. As with the series of cadaver portraits, his subjects often seem to be disappearing, fading from memory and simultaneously, clinging desperately to life.

Read more: The new age of Chinese ink art

Abstract painting in bleached colours

‘Allo! I’ (2012), by Luc Tuymans, private collection

“From very early on, my work was born out of an insane and very profound distrust of imagery,” he says, which is now especially relevant in the age of the digital image and mass reproduction – where the lines between originality and forgery are increasingly blurred. This distrust, in fact, was the reason Tuymans started painting as a teenager in the late 1970s, seeking a deliberate ‘regression’ by creating a work that had the appearance of another era and thus, developing a practice of so-called ‘authentic forgery’. However, this seems somewhat reductive to Tuymans’ intentionality, which is one of total disillusionment. Take, for example, the mosaic of pine trees that covers the floor in the entrance hall of Palazzo Grassi. Visitors might be forgiven for assuming it to be part of the Palazzo’s grand decoration rather than an act of wilful deception by Belgium’s most famous contemporary painter, who worked with an Italian firm to perfectly match the green marble to the existing floor colouring. Then there’s the fact that the mosaic is based on Tuymans’ iconic 1986 painting Schwarzheide, named after a Nazi labour camp where many inmates were worked to death. This seemingly picturesque cluster of pine trees represents the evergreens planted along the border of the camp to hide it from public view.

Abstract painting of flowers in a vase

‘Technicolor’ (2012), by Luc Tuymans, private collection

Portrait of a priest in bleached paints

‘München’ (2012), by Luc Tuymans, Pinault Collection

Encountering works such as these for the first time, how can we know or begin to understand their embedded contexts? “I am a big believer in not overestimating or underestimating the public,” says Tuymans. “I don’t believe in wall texts. You’re given a reader, which you can choose to look at whenever you like, but there is a point I’m trying to make in the experience through which you have a feeling of not just oblivion, but utter ignorance.” This comes from the fact that the exhibition at Palazzo Grassi, titled La Pelle after Curzio Malaparte’s book of the same name, is a retrospective show in one of the world’s most visited cities, so the audience being addressed is the wider public rather than art experts. Tuymans notes that many viewers may be drawn not by the art, but by a “certain kind of voyeurism to get into spaces such as the Palazzo”. He relishes the idea that the exhibition may disrupt their expectations, functioning as “a strong confrontation with the space”.

Read more: Photographer Viviane Sassen’s ‘Venus and Mercury’ at Frieze London

Installation shot of a painting in a grand gallery space

Installation from ‘La Pelle’, ‘Turtle’ (2007), by Luc Tuymans, private collection

Does he think of himself as a political painter, then? “No artist can be political because you can’t load up an artwork from the start, if you do, you’re just making propaganda,” says Tuymans. “But that doesn’t mean the work cannot have a political stance at a certain given moment.” Whether his paintings work or not, in his opinion, has a lot to do with the images that surround him. “I need an extreme tension when I paint,” he claims, also referring to the anxiety that he feels each time he approaches the blank canvas. There are conditions for his creative process: Thursdays and Fridays only (“because it’s the end of the week”), a clear head (“no drinking the night before”) and a sense of risk. “I think that fear of failure is very necessary,” he says. “Otherwise I may as well do a 9-to-5 job.” Of course, failure is a less painful prospect when you’re one of the world’s most respected painters. Now, Tuymans has the luxury of “throwing away” a painting when it’s not working, and by that he means literally into the bin. Antwerp residents, take note.

Abstract painting of a clown

‘Ballone’ (2017), by Luc Tuymans, private collection.

“Whenever I’m asked the question: why do you still paint?,” muses Tuymans, “the answer is always: because I’m not f*cking naive. Painting is a medium that works within its own proposition with time and it’s always had this inheritance of being an anachronism within that time, which has an appalling impact on your brain.” The impact he speaks of relates again to the multilayered aspect of his work, to the way in which he both draws from and mimics the past, while simultaneously and inevitably applying his contemporary, subjective perspective. It is this perspective, combined with the cultural context in which the work is viewed, that creates its relevance. So the significance of Tuymans’ paintings – as perhaps with all artworks – is continuously reforming. “I’m currently working on a two-year project with three scientists,” he says. “We’re going to put [my] work into algorithms. Not to make a painting with a computer, because that’s stupid, but to see what the signifiers mean in terms of language. Language is something that is always changing and the aim is to compare that to the anachronism of painting and to see what the outcome would be.” Admirers of his work will anticipate this next incarnation with interest.

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.

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Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park, London
The Frieze art fairs in London and New York are the reference points for the brave new world of contemporary art: at once ground-breaking and commercial, edgy and established, and a badge of honour for the galleries selected to sell there. Frieze co-founder Matthew Slotover talks to LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai about digital art, the future of culture, and new developments.
Co-founder of Frieze art fair, Matthew Slotover

Matthew Slotover

Matthew Slotover is the co-founder of Frieze art fair in London and New York, and is fast becoming one of the art world’s éminences grises. Although that’s probably a misnomer for this boyish-looking 48-year-old who looks as insouciant as he did the day he and Amanda Sharp founded Frieze magazine in 1991, soon after they had left Oxford University.

Their art fair – the slightly less brash, slightly more cerebral, but just as influential, alternative to Art Basel – is still the most desirable place for the world’s biggest gallerists, collectors, and their armies of hangers-on, to display and purchase.

Slotover and Sharp have resisted the impulse to roll out their brand around the world. Founded in 2003 in a tent in London, Frieze only opened in its second venue, in New York, in 2012. This year, a quarter of a century after the specialist art magazine that spawned the fairs was founded, they took on some outside investment, for the first time, from the sports and entertainment agency WME-IMG – behind Slotover’s innocent facade and genuine love of the new in art is as tough a businessman as any.

Read next: Jude Law talks whiskey, hats and wagers

ON DIGITAL & POST-INTERNET ART
“People have been talking about digital art for 20 years, and your perspective on the subject partly depends on how you define it. Is it art that exists in a purely digital form? If so, what does that mean? Or does it mean art that exists only on the web, or as a video file or an audio file?

Art that only exists on the web is not, I think, the way you define digital art. We have not had very many brilliant examples of artists using a purely virtual presence in that way.

Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park, London

‘Annals of Private History’ by the Spanish installation artist Amalia Ulman at the Live section of Frieze London, 2015

In the past couple of years there has been a conversation about what some people call post-internet art. This usually has a physical component to it. It can be a video animation, but it can also be a sculpture or a flat artwork that refers to the internet and to modern communication, using images collected from the internet, such as logos, graphics and text from Instagram and other social media. It uses the language of technology and new communication to make art.

The art world wants objects [not purely virtual art], and artists want to create objects. I didn’t like Richard Prince’s Instagram paintings  when I first saw them, and now I think they’re brilliant: the work is about taking images that exist already and contextualising them. Richard loves photographic imagery; he used to be a photo editor before he was an artist. So he goes on Instagram, finds images that he likes, and makes a gnomic comment underneath them. He then does a screen grab and then a big print out with the image, with all the comments below. He is both inserting himself virtually into the Instagram world as an artist, and also making a physical object out of it. This leaves him open to criticism by the original image makers. When he did a stand comprising these pictures at Frieze New York last year, we had Facebook and Instagram comments saying we steal people’s copyright.

Read next: Discovering the ancient heart of Hermes

Prince’s response was that recycling images is what he has always done. One of the girls whose image he took did a grab of his picture, which was on sale for $90,000, and started selling prints of it for $100. He thought recycling his work and questioning the value was great.

I find it hard to distinguish between painting, photography, sculpture, digital art and installation. People say to me at Frieze, “There was a lot of photography this year”. I reply that I didn’t see it as photography. A lot of artists move between media. And if digital art has to be shown on a monitor in a gallery, is it physical or not?

Frieze Art Fair in Regents Park, London

‘Collection of Suppressed Voices’ by the Czech artist Eva Kot’átková at the Live section of Frieze London, 2015

What everyone looks for in art is something new that relates to its time, that isn’t just an updated version of what was done before. Most great artists historically follow this pattern: their work could only have been made in their time, they were pushing boundaries.

As to the companies that sell digital images to be displayed on mobile devices, it turns out that what people want on their phone is not beautiful images created by an artist or designer: it’s the age of the selfie, and they want to take the picture and they want it to be of themselves. If you look at Instagram, what are people doing and sharing? It’s very egocentric, and a bit disturbing. I’m not sure art sold for digital devices is really ever going to take off.”

ON BUYING ART ONLINE
“According to TEFAF’s market report this year, the amount of art being sold online is estimated to have gone up from 6% to 7%. Still a small amount, but going in the right direction. Clearly, we are getting more comfortable spending larger amounts of money online. But there are caveats. A couple of months ago I saw a picture that was for sale in an online auction. It looked great. But when I spoke to the artist’s dealer, he told me he had done a physical inspection, and the condition was terrible – something you would never have known if just looking online.

So there are some significant hurdles, which is why the online art market hasn’t exploded in the same way that music or film or clothing has. Many galleries have joined online sales platforms or invested in their own websites, but they are not seeing the returns they expected. They tend to get a lot of inquiries with a very low conversion rate into sales.”

22549941189_d26cc1093e_o

Frieze London has been held in a temporary space in Regent’s Park since 2003; it was more recently joined by Frieze Masters, focussing on non-contemporary art, held across the park

Read next: Taking British luxury overseas

ON THE FUTURE OF FRIEZE
“We are not going to rush into rolling out several new fairs. Our clients – the galleries – are the content. If you don’t have the right galleries, you don’t have a fair. But if the right opportunity arises, we will take it.

We set up the magazine in 1991 and Frieze London in 2003, and then in 2012 we launched our two new fairs, Frieze New York and Frieze Masters in London – so our timing has been roughly a new venture every 10 years!

We now have another new development, Frieze Academy , which has a series of talks, lectures and courses, such as how to write about art, and how to start an independent magazine. This September we are launching a course on art collecting, which will feature several fantastic art consultants, and could grow from London to other cities. And in October we are doing our first conference, for private individuals and museum professionals commissioning architecture for art spaces – homes, private museums and public museums.”

Frieze Academy opened this year; frieze.com

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