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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Yayoi Kusama Statue at the Veuve Clicquot Exhibition. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

Maison Veuve Clicquot has brought its travelling exhibition to London this May. Trudy Ross stepped out to Piccadilly Circus to interview CEO Jean-Marc Gallot amidst sunflowers, paintings, sculptures, and that iconic gleaming yellow 

LUX: Queen Victoria was the first British royal to order a direct shipment of Veuve Clicquot in the 19th century. Now in 2023, with a new monarch having just been crowned, the brand still has this presence in the heart of London. Can you speak to the brand’s long history with the Royal Family?

Jean-Marc Gallot: It is a very, very, long history. I think the first shipment for the royal family was in 1868. In one of the exhibition rooms upstairs we have a menu made especially for Queen Victoria’s son, Edward the 7th Prince of Wales. He gave us the Royal Warrant in 1905, so, I would say, we have a very strong link and history with the UK.

The Maison was created in 1722, so we celebrated 250 years last year. The first shipment to the UK was in 1773, 250 years ago. So there is a long, long story between Veuve Clicquot and the UK. Out of the nine female artists we have here, two are British. We have Cece Philips and Rosie McGuinness, who have created their own portraits and interpretations of Madame Clicquot.

LUX: Throughout these 250 years, what do you think has changed about the brand and what has remained the same?

JMG: What remains today and will continue to remain, is the fact that we have an incredibly inspiring woman at the centre of our history. Madame Clicquot at her time was so courageous, determined, and audacious. She was a widow at 27 years old but her spirit, her audacity, and also this idea of being solaire, being radiant, is what remains in everything we do. It is a state of mind. Everyone from myself, the CEO, to my team, to everyone you will see here today from Maison Veuve Clicquot, works with this state of mind. I think it’s super important to have this spirit of being solaire, audacious and always surprising people. That is not going to change.

Display of Veuve Clicquot’s iconic designs through the years. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

What has changed? I would say that when you are so linked with the contemporary and the people around you, you also have to be very curious and try to evolve. So an example is right here: you have the very first ice jacket made by Veuve Clicquot. This first one was made 20 years ago out of diving costumes, but the ones we make now are made by the Saint Martins School of Business of 100% recycled plastic and this mono-material approach uses on average 30% less material than regular production. You can look at things we made 20 years ago and think, yes, this is nice, but we must continue to innovate, to respond to the times and move forward. Every single box that we make now in Veuve Clicquot is made out of 50% recycled paper and 50% hemp (not the hemp that people smoke!).

What we want to show here is that we have some duties to the world we live in. Not everyone is aware of the need for these things, so as a major brand we can help to act as an exemplar. This is what I am hoping to build with my team.

LUX: Your champagnes are offered at a range of price points. How do you balance keeping its luxurious and exclusive reputation whilst also ensuring it is accessible to a wider audience?

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JMG: I have been working for 34 years in the luxury world. I worked at companies like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Fendi, wonderful luxury names, and I know that luxury, for some people, means something that is not easy to get or seems unapproachable.

I don’t agree with that viewpoint at all. We have a collection of products, starting with the iconic yellow label, Brut, which is the most famous bottle of Veuve Clicquot, then you go to La Grande Dame which is at a much higher price point. Both of them however, embody the spirit of Clicquot, so it’s not a matter of price, it’s a matter of how desirable your brand is and how much you have built around the brand.

Take an exhibition like this, running for 3 weeks in the heart of central London. Some people in this area are on their way to very nice upmarket restaurants, and some are on their way to Tesco. Both will pass the exhibition, they will see these artists and learn about Madam Clicquot’s story, and then they will understand the dream, the spirit and the history of Veuve Clicquot.

Outside the Veuve Clicquot exhibition in Picadilly Square. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Can you tell us about the importance of art and the art world to Veuve Clicquot?

JMG: Actually, we are not really in the art world; I would say that we are in the design world. Design is not art, it is the way of making a beautiful object which is also functional, or building something beautiful around an object. When you sell bottles of champagne you have to build something really extraordinary. We love the beauty of objects and we believe that in champagne, since you have something precious inside the bottle, you have to make the outside of the bottle exciting as well. So we constantly are looking for the next idea, and there is no set recipe. It has to be a surprise, because more than anything else, we love the element of surprise.

LUX: Beyond this all female exhibition, Veuve Clicquot has many initiatives supporting gender equality, including supporting women entrepreneurs through your Bold Woman Award. Can you tell us more about this aspect of the brand?

JMG: This is the spirit of Veuve Clicquot. Fifty-one years ago one of my predecessors thought, what can we do for the 200 year anniversary of Maison Clicquot? They had an incredible inspiration and vision and said, why don’t we celebrate the spirit of woman entrepreneurs, why don’t we shine light on some inspiring women?

What we found out through running the Bold Woman Award was that for women there are many social barriers standing in the way of them running their own company or being independent. Veuve Clicquot is trying to fight against this because we believe there should be as many women entrepreneurs as men entrepreneurs.

The statistic is the following: 92% of women entrepreneurs believe and admit that they would love to have a role model, and only 15% of them can name one off the top of their head. We want to change this and help to inspire women. The first very inspiring woman entrepreneur was Madame Clicquot, and for the last 220 or 230 years, there have been many more women entrepreneurs that we want to shine a light on. It’s about sharing, inspiring and making the world more balanced between men and women.

Cece Phillips, Window Clicquot, 2022.Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: What is Madame Clicquot’s story and why is it so important to the brand?

JMG: You are in 1805 in France, in a very traditional, even noble family. You have faced a lot of challenges because twenty years ago was the French Revolution. You have a very nice husband who you love and a very severe and traditional father in law. Then you become a window overnight. Imagine: you basically don’t exist anymore. What are your options?

You could find another  husband, but instead you say “no, I’m going to take over the company. I’m going to run the company.” Everyone tells you not to, starting with your father-in-law. He says you are not capable of it, you cannot do it, you will not succeed at it. So, you are stuck.

If I had to describe Madame Clicquot, I would say she was  incredibly courageous, incredibly audacious and took huge risks. She teaches us that if you want to do something, just go for it. Never surrender.

LUX: The artworks that are on show here are reimagined portraits of Madame Clicquot. Can you tell me a little bit more about which ones are your favourite, and which one you think speaks to the values of Veuve Clicquot?

JMG: I have to say that I have a love for the Cece Phillips portrait in particular. You have the whole story there. You have a young woman sitting at her table, you see the vineyards through the window, you see that she is studying, very focussed but also very determined. She was writing a lot at the time, writing ideas, writing about the company. She was not travelling, but she was sending letters to all the customers around the world. This and the light, the vibrant, sunny appearance of it all, this is Clicquot.

I have to say, the portrait we have of Clicquot was taken when she was 84 years old and she looks a little bit severe! With all do respect to 80-year-old women, this was maybe not Madame Clicquot at her strongest period of life. Cece Phillips gets it all in one painting, you have the whole story in one, so it’s better than words.

Ines Longevial, Ghost Guest, 2022. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Beyond the artworks, what else interests you about the exhibition?

JMG: The statue of Yayoi Kusama is pretty impressive, but my favourite piece today here in London, which is not really in touch with the exhibition itself; it is the Sunny Side Cafe. I love it because this is actually when Clicquot meets British tradition and British culture.

LUX: The exhibition has been in Tokyo, Los Angeles, and now London. Where is next?

JMG: We started in Tokyo in June last year, and then we did three weeks in Los Angeles, and now it’s three weeks in London. Next year, we might go somewhere else, perhaps a continent we have not been to yet, perhaps South Africa.

LUX: What was the decision-making process behind choosing these three cities?

JMG: These are the three most important market places for Veuve Clicquot. I loved the idea of being in Tokyo because Japanese people are so refined. Then we went to the US and we didn’t want to go to New York because we thought we were going to be lost, and we love the vibes of LA so we went there. When we went to Europe we didn’t look for France – can you imagine me, a French guy, saying that! – but we decided to take it to London.

Yayoi Kusama, Twist with Madam Clicquot! Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Would you take it to France and if not why?

JMG: No, for a few reasons, actually. First we love to speak about our brand outside of our own country, and second because the UK is very important to us, and also because there are some legal constraints in France which wouldn’t allow us to make such an impression in an exhibition like we have here.

LUX: You have a lot of tradition and history behind you. In today’s market, with the younger generation coming up, what do you think are the key changes and the key ways that you’re going to have to adapt as a brand to appeal to these younger consumers?

JMG: We are a luxury maison, and I’m a strong believer that luxury is about what you offer rather than just marketing fast-moving consumer goods. We talked about how to surprise people, how to make people dream and feel that they are getting something that they are really inspired by. My point is that if we keep on being ourselves, being super creative and bringing excitement, I think that we can offer things that people will discover and appreciate, even if they are not tailored to their tastes.

Read more: Visual art and music meet in Shezad Dawood’s latest exhibition

If we start to do it the other way round and try to anticipate what it is that people expect, what they want or think they need, we lose our spirit and our soul. Of course, we need to listen to the younger generation, look at what they do, and how they behave to a certain extent. However, I don’t want to be obsessed with creating something that people will expect.

Find out more: solaireculture.veuveclicquot.com

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Reading time: 10 min
a sofa in a lobby with colourful works of art on the walls behind it
a sofa in a lobby with colourful works of art on the walls behind it

The Four Seasons, 2021, by Idris Khan, in the lobby of the Deutsche Bank Center, New York

With Preview Day of Frieze New York underway, Will Fenstermaker discovers a stunning and carefully curated selection of artworks, in a spectacular skyscraper in midtown Manhattan, courtesy of Deutsche Bank

On a warm Manhattan afternoon, the sun is shining in a way that it only shines in cities and canyons. For a moment, light reaches the lobby of the Deutsche Bank Center, two 55-storey skyscrapers occupying the entire west side of Columbus Circle in New York City. Inside, four coloured paintings seemed to come alive. They comprise a work called The Four Seasons by the London-based artist Idris Khan.

A landscaped terrace at the Deutsche Bank Center

A landscaped terrace at the Deutsche Bank Center

Unbeknown to many, the Deutsche Bank Center is home to one of the world’s most substantial collections of contemporary photographs and works on paper. Deutsche Bank began collecting art in the late 1970s with a small idea, one that would prove radical in the context of corporate collections: works on paper could be made viewable to all, not siloed away in storage or senior executives’ offices. In 1978, the bank arranged its first display in its New York offices, and in 1986 it opened its new global headquarters in Frankfurt’s Twin Towers with each of the buildings’ 60 floors dedicated to a single artist.

Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century by Andy Warhol

Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century by Andy Warhol at the Deutsche Bank Centre in New York

At the time, the collection consisted mostly of work made by German artists (Deutsche Bank owns a particularly significant watercolour from Sigmar Polke’s early Capitalist Realism period, for example, and a vibrant pencil drawing made by AR Penck while the artist was living in the German Democratic Republic). Today, Deutsche Bank’s collection consists of tens of thousands of works of art, representing cultures from around the world, and displayed across 900 offices. “Portrait of a Collection”, in Deutsche Bank’s Columbus Circle building, charts the evolution and expansion of the New York collection. “Diversity is a truly important topic at Deutsche Bank,” says Britta Färber, Global Head of Art. Färber says works in the collection by Abstract Expressionist artists Eva Hesse, Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell are “as groundbreaking as those of their male counterparts.” They underscore the impact of women artists on the movement.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

While Deutsche Bank has no special remit to collect work by women artists, its attention to them over the decades is impressive. Wangechi Mutu, the subject of a recent retrospective at the New Museum and a 2019 façade commission at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, earned early support as a Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year in 2010. Alongside the major works by female Abstract Expressionists, the bank’s US collection contains major works by influential photographers such as Candida Höfer and Carrie Mae Weems, and contemporary artists such as Amy Sillman and Betty Woodman. In fact, Färber says that 80 per cent of recent acquisitions are works by women artists.

Fei Lai Feng by Thomas Struth

Works by Imi Knoebel (left) and Fei Lai Feng by Thomas Struth (right) in the collection at the Deutsche Bank Center, New York

For the prestigious Deutsche Bank Artists of the Year programme, a team of external art experts, including renowned curators Hou Hanru, Udo Kittelmann and Victoria Noorthoorn, propose key artists to a senior committee within the bank. It leads to an appreciation for art and community that is threaded throughout the organisation. More recent acquisitions include a triptych by John Akomfrah, a British artist of Ghanian descent and the son of anticolonial activists, and a group of works by Paris-based Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga, whose work explores the impact of colonialism on Canada’s First Nations. Both artists will represent their home countries at the 2024 Venice Biennale.

Four Panels from Untitled 1972, by Jasper Johns at the Deutsche Bank Centre in New York

Four Panels from Untitled 1972, by Jasper Johns at the Deutsche Bank Centre in New York

“It is an honour to have work in a collection as expertly curated, well regarded and diligently cared for as the Deutsche Bank collection,” says artist Erin O’Keefe. In 2022, the bank commissioned O’Keefe as its Lounge Artist at Frieze New York – a fair it has supported international presence is a real benefit,” O’Keefe continues. “It allows the work to be introduced to audiences beyond the regional art worlds.” In New York, works by Kandis Williams, Haegue Yang, Moshekwa Langa, Jose Dávila and ruby onyinyechi amanze provide a refreshingly global outlook on contemporary artistic production. “Because I developed a personal relationship with many of Deutsche Bank’s representatives, it didn’t feel like I was joining a significant corporate collection,” says amanze, who is happy to see her work contextualised in the company of such significant works on paper.

Works including ruby onyinyechi amanze’s Without a care in the galaxy, we danced on galaxies (or red sand with that different kind of sky) with ghosts of your fatherland keeping watch (left)

Works including ruby onyinyechi amanze’s Without a care in the galaxy, we danced on galaxies (or red sand with that different kind of sky) with ghosts of your fatherland keeping watch (left)

An immense composite photograph of the Shilin Night Market in Taiwan by photographer Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao belongs to a series “exploring the complex cultural conditions of countries that are heavily influenced by modern colonisation and the ongoing impact of globalised immigrant labour,” says the artist. Some might find it surprising that work so critical of capital is in the collection of a global corporation, but Deutsche Bank believes that its collection strengthens the firm’s commitment to funding positive impact.

The Oratory Command: X Carmichael King Hampton by Kandis Williams (left) and Untitled 2015 by Kay Hassan (right)

The Oratory Command: X Carmichael King Hampton by Kandis Williams (left) and Untitled 2015 by Kay Hassan (right) at the Deutsche Bank Centre, New York

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf’s Guide to Starting an Art Collection

Back downstairs, art including The Four Seasons is an expression of Deutsche Bank’s broader ambition to support sustainable initiatives. “The art in the lobby ties the since it was founded in London 20 years ago, including through its annual Los Angeles Film Award and Emerging Curators Fellowship. “The fact that the collection has an Deutsche Bank Center to the original design approach for our space,” says James Dyson, Director of Global Real Estate for the Americas.

Faces of Infinity (Unfinished) by Charles Avery

Faces of Infinity (Unfinished) by Charles Avery in the collection at the Deutsche Bank Centre, New York

When Deutsche Bank began planning the project, it hired Gensler to design the workspace. In June 2022, the project achieved LEED Gold certification, marking a significant advancement in Deutsche Bank’s goal of reaching net zero by 2050.

Jewel Glow – Trustworthy #248 by Haegue Yang in the collection at the Deutsche Bank Center, New York

Jewel Glow – Trustworthy #248 by Haegue Yang in the collection at the Deutsche Bank Center, New York

Deutsche Bank’s space consumes half the energy of its previous headquarters and 100% of its CO2 emissions are compensated via renewable sources. That sits well alongside the energy of its art.

Find out more: art.db.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 5 min
embroidered artwork

embroidered artwork

In 2019, German embroidery artist Jess de Wahls had her works removed from the Royal Academy gift shop after a blogpost – in which she outlined her views on gender identity politics – was deemed transphobic. The Royal Academy has since apologised, emphasising the importance of freedom of speech. Here, Candice Tucker speaks to the artist about the experience, her practice and future collaborations

1. You’ve established yourself as an ‘enfant terrible’. Can you explain what that means exactly?

I was branded that, rather, by Hand and Lock, which is this old-fashioned embroidery house in the West End – it’s over 250 years old, I think. I did a bit of work with them over a period of years and I guess it’s because I’m not your average dolly embroiderer. They did a story on me and that’s what it was called and I thought I’ll run with it, it works! I’ve done a lot of vulva embroidery and I’ve got the Big Swinging Ovaries label and I think that’s where it came from and I thought well I guess that’s true because I kind of go against the grain of what people perceive as embroidery.

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2. Your work explores themes such as the environment, contemporary feminism and female liberation. Do you think there is a natural link between these interests?

There has always been a natural link for me. It wasn’t something I set out to do and embroidery wasn’t something I set out to do either – I just fell into it, naturally.

Traditionally, embroidery and needle work have been seen as women’s work. The recycling bit, for me, is connected in the sense that I am a big fan of trying to reuse things so I almost exclusively work with recycled materials. I embroider onto old fabrics, usually old clothes or bed linen or anything I can get my hands on. When I used to do the Retex sculptures (short for recycled-textile-sculpture) it was purely from donated clothes from friends and family and people that like my work which I cut apart, so that links together with the whole textile aspect.

Feminism was always something I was curious to explore through my work. As mentioned before, embroidery or textile art in general has always been sidelined as women’s work, and regarded as somehow less than mainstream art. I’ve been taking quite a stand over the years now to make a point that embroidery is just as much art as any other medium, but it wasn’t that I thought “I’m a feminist and therefore, I have to choose textile art”, it all just kind of connected. There’s no ulterior motive behind it.

3. How were you first introduced to textile art and embroidery?

I used to paint and draw storyboards, but I sort of fell into textile art when my goddaughter was born and I wanted to make something tactile for so I used some of my old clothes. The last time I had sewn something before that was when I was in primary school. I made a little soft toy for her and I really loved the process of stitching, so much so that I thought, “Why haven’t I done this before?”

After that, I did a lot of sewing which ended up turning into my Retex sculptures that became more and more intricate the more I went with the fabric and the textile. I never studied it so I just found my way through what medium I wanted to work with next. Embroidery happened naturally because the backgrounds got tinier and tinier, and more and more detailed. Now, I pretty much only do embroidery. I find it addictive.

I’ve always been fascinated by meticulous, tiny works of art where there’s lots of repetition, and really, there’s nothing more repetitive than stitching because you get into this flow state and you can go for hours and also do something else whilst you’re doing it. I have a Zoom stitch group – we meet every other day and for 2 hours, we just chat while everybody works on their own projects. It’s kind of like back in the day when women used to meet to stitch. There’s something really soothing about it.

4. How do you think art manages to act as a platform in raising awareness for issues such as equality and the environment?

In a way, I think art has always [raised awareness], it’s just now that the mainstream is taking more notice. Artists have always expressed their worries, concerns, likes, dislikes and fears through their work, but with social media, and the internet, we have much more exposure to [both art and these issues]. Look at Frida Kahlo and her work: she was expressing very similar things early on.

Read more: Helga Piaget on educating the next generation

I do find it a little difficult now because there is so much political art that it becomes a bit like propaganda where I’m not sure how good it is and how much it takes away from the quality of the art. There is also such an incessant need for labels for everyone and everything, which is interesting to me because I’ve sort of become a feminist artist and although the majority of my work is about feminism, it’s also only one of many things that I’m exploring. At the moment, there are a lot of feminist issues that that I’m looking at through my art, criticising or applauding, but that’s not to say that’s what I’ll be focusing on next year when there might be something else that’s more on my radar. There are some really good things about the internet, it allows people to reach broader audiences that they wouldn’t have been able to access before, but [the overload of information and content] can be difficult to navigate.

5. What was the importance of the Royal Academy’s apology with regards to freedom of expression?

Obviously, I welcome the apology. Sadly, over the last two years, I had become almost used to that kind of behaviour. People were really shocked to see what had happened because it was the first time this had happened so publicly, other than what happened with JK Rowling, but that’s a different story because she’s at a different level to me. It was shocking to see that an art institution like the RA would go along with the social media pressure because ultimately that is what it is, and there is a danger in that. I think we should be able to look at art and separate it, to a certain extent, from the artist.

Of course, people are free to disagree with me. They said it’s not freedom of speech if you don’t let people voice their concerns about your views and I’ve never said that they shouldn’t be able to voice them. It’s not freedom of speech if the consequence is that I have to worry about my livelihood and that of my partner and friends. Within art, I think, there are guidelines for hate speech, which I haven’t broken: I don’t hate anyone. So, yes I am glad they apologised publicly. A lot of people were hoping I was going to court, but it’s much more important to have a public stand on this, and I know there are a lot people who disagree with that too, but then, what do you want from art?

textile artwork

Ideas don’t go away just because they are prohibited: they go underground and they fester when they are not being examined. I, as an artist, should be able to say something that isn’t hate speech, and people should be free to say, “That’s rubbish”, or “I agree with you.” To me, that’s what art is about. The way [this whole thing] has been misrepresented as if I am trying to punch down a minority is nonsense: in my opinion, I’m standing up for women. I’ve been open for conversations about my thoughts on this for a long time and they have only every been met with dogma.

If the big art organisations start examining every artist, they won’t have any art on their walls anymore and if only certain thoughts are allowed to be expressed, then we will have a very narrow view of art and life.

6. Do you have any upcoming projects?

I’ve done a couple of webinars with Baroness Nicholson. She wants to get me involved with the Yazidi women in the war camp and bring embroidery there, which I would love to do because in South Africa there are a lot of women who were raped in the war and they work through their trauma with embroidery, which can be super healing and soothing.

There’s also a group of women artists that I’m working with in the background and a couple of curators, we are trying to put on an exhibition about ‘cancelled’ artists, particularly women artists. Who knows, maybe I can convince the Royal Academy to give us a space!

Find out more: jessdewahls.com

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Reading time: 7 min
landscape painting
landscape painting

Georgia O’Keeffe in New Mexico with one of her landscape paintings

As a new solo show of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work opens in Madrid, artnet’s Vice President and LUX columnist Sophie Neuendorf reflects on how the American painter’s visionary work and mainstream success paved the way for many of today’s women artists

Sophie Neuendorf

American artist Georgia O’Keeffe burst onto the New York gallery scene in 1917 at the age of twenty. At the time, the American art world was under the influence of French Cubism, but O’Keeffe’s abstract charcoal drawings presented a version of modernism that was so radically individual, she quickly became a favourite among collectors – a nearly unthinkable achievement for a young women from the midwest.

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The artist began making her famous large-scale flower paintings in the 1920s. A new show at Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid includes O’Keeffe’s spectacular Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 (1932), which sold for over $44 million at auction in 2014, more than tripling the previous auction record for a female artist. Since then, the market for her work has been steadily growing, with her top 10 most expensive works finding buyers over the past 10 years (source: artnet price database).

flower painting

Georgia O’Keeffe, Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 (1932)

A recurring subject for O’Keeffe, the flower was a tool through which she could explore varying languages of abstraction and representation, responding to nature as opposed to her inner self. Inside Red Canna (1919), for example, is considered her earliest depiction of a magnified flower in oil. Sensual, sexual, powerful and delicate, the painting beckoned Freudian interpretations throughout her life and to the present day. However, her famous flowers are just one part of her vast canon of work, and in fact, O’Keeffe spent much of her life bristling at the Freudian reading of her delicate folds of flora.

Read more: Artists in residence at Castel Caramel in the south of France

She grew up on the Wisconsin prairie and was forever after enchanted by wide open spaces with limitless horizons. Later, she found a similar sense of ease in the Badlands of New Mexico, where she lived after her husband, the photographer Alfred Stieglitz, passed away. Astonishingly, she didn’t make her first trip to Europe until 1953, when she was 66 years old, but her work was widely shown in major museums across the US. In 1940 she was given a retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago and in 1946, she became the first female artist to be afforded a retrospective at MoMA. In 1970, her work was celebrated in another retrospective, this time at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, which travelled to the Art Institute of Chicago, and the San Francisco Museum of Art.

tropical garden coutryard

O’Keeffe’s home in New Mexico

Then, as now, women artists face far greater challenges than their male counterparts. To put it into perspective, German artist Gerhard Richter is the highest grossing living male artist, with a total sales value of $2,488,640,798. In contrast, the highest grossing living female artist, Japan’s Yayoi Kusama, has a total sales value of $709,679,123 (source: artnet price database). Kusama is closely followed by visionary artists such as Cindy Sherman, Bridget Riley, Marlene Dumas, and Julie Mehretu. However, artnet’s recent data shows that women artists have been outperforming the S&P 500, indicating strong demand and growth.

graph showing top selling artists

Infographic courtesy of artnet

A strong woman and a visionary painter, O’Keeffe remains an inspiration for many female artists around the globe. She was a feminist who largely contributed not only to the rise of modernism, but also helped to solidify the place of female artists within the historical art canon.

“Georgia O’Keeffe” runs until at 8 August 2021 at Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. For more information, visit: museothyssen.org/en/exhibitions/georgia-okeeffe

 

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collage artwork
portrait of artist in her studio

Iranian artist Arghavan Khosravi

In our ongoing online series, renowned art consultant Maria-Theresia Mathisen profiles rising contemporary artists to watch in 2021. Here, she speaks to New York-based Iranian artist Arghavan Khosravi about the power of visual metaphors, juxtaposing imagery and how her work reflects on her experiences of growing up in Iran

Maria-Theresia Mathisen

Arghavan Khosravi’s work is not only visually compelling but also loaded with socio-political commentary. I discovered her work in late 2019, a few months before the pandemic, on Instagram and was immediately taken by it. Bright colours and smooth skin are juxtaposed with uncanny elements such as ankle bonds, bombs, fragments of sculptures, shattered structures, ropes and keys. There are recurring symbols for censorship, such as locks, masks and bonds, reflecting the artist’s experience of growing up in Iran.

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Over time, I noticed that her compositions are becoming increasingly complex, and her paintings more and more sculptural. Arghavan is very ambitious and curious, constantly developing her practice, as if she is trying to solve a problem, or perhaps find a solution to some of Iran’s, or even the world’s problems.

To me, Arghavan’s work feels extremely important right now as it tackles human rights issues with a particular focus on the oppression of women in autocratic systems.

mixed media painting

Arghavan Khosravi, The Key, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery

LUX: You are born and raised in Iran. When did you move to the US and why?
Arghavan Khosravi: I was born in Iran and spent almost my whole life there. In 2015, I came to the US to go to graduate school.

LUX: Was it a culture shock?
Arghavan Khosravi: To be honest, I didn’t face that much of a culture shock. I think nowadays, with globalisation and the internet, people from all over the world that are coming from similar cultural classes and generations have lifestyles that are not hugely different. The only thing that I can think of, which still wasn’t a culture shock, but a huge difference (and relief) was that in the US I could wear whatever I want in public; there was no more compulsory hijab (which is an unjust law for women in Iran).

mixed media artwork

Arghavan Khosravi, Connection, 2020. Courtesy Carl Kostyál Gallery

LUX: You have four degrees, two from Iran and two from the US. Why did you choose to do both undergrad and graduate degrees again in the US?
Arghavan Khosravi: I actually have three degrees. I got my BFA in Graphic Design and MFA in Illustration both in Tehran. After being a graphic designer for almost 10 years I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a painter and moved to the US, but since I didn’t have much professional or academic experience in that field, I decided to apply for a one-year non-degree post-bacc program in studio arts at Brandeis University (Waltham, Massachusetts). Over the course of that one year, I could make a body of work which enabled me to apply to a few graduate programs. Eventually, I ended up in Rhode Island School of Design’s graduate painting program.

three-dimensional painting

Arghavan Khosravi, On Being a Woman, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery

LUX: Your earlier work from 2016 is heavily influenced by Iranian miniatures, but your style seems to have evolved a great deal in the past few years. What were the museums you visited the most upon coming to the US and which of them provided new sources of inspiration?
Arghavan Khosravi: Persian miniature paintings have always been one of the main sources of inspiration for me. Every time I look at them, I get inspired by one aspect of these works, whether it’s their mesmerising colour palette; their compositions; the way figures are depicted (there’s not much facial expression and the expressive qualities are heavily dependent on their poses and body language); or the way architectural spaces are depicted so that there’s no perspective and no vanishing point, which has a flattening effect. When I place figures that are rendered realistically into that unreal space, the juxtaposition gives a sense of distortion and displacement which can be read metaphorically too. The more I focused on this aspect of the paintings, the more I got involved with building shaped panels (instead of the regular rectangle) to emphasise these architectural elements of the space. This helped the paintings to increasingly exist as a 3D object rather than a 2D surface, which opened a whole new door for me and led me to experiment with different ways to explore three dimensionality in the paintings.

Unfortunately, over the past year I haven’t been able to visit museums due to the pandemic, but when I look back at the few years before that, a few museum exhibitions stand out. One of them was a retrospective of Jim Shaw’s works at the New Museum in New York in 2015 and another exhibition of his works a few months later at MASS MoCA in Massachusetts which truly fascinated me. The way he’s always exploring new different ideas and his never-ending creativity was very inspiring for me. The other inspiring museum exhibition that I can think of was David Hockney’s at the Met in 2017. One of the most inspiring aspects of his works for me was colour.

three dimensional artwork

Arghavan Khosravi, Isn’t it time to celebrate your freedom?, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery

LUX: Your work fluctuates between pop, symbolism and surrealism. Which genre, if any, do you feel most comfortable being associated with?
Arghavan Khosravi: I can mostly relate my work to the surrealist movement and I think symbolism is one of the tools in surrealistic storytelling. In my paintings, I like to depict moments that might be impossible to happen in real life. I also use an indirect and subtle approach to convey what I have in mind. This approach slows the audience’s reading of each painting and hopefully, leaves a more effective and longer lasting impression on them.

Read more: Philip Hewat-Jaboor on discovering art through materials

LUX: Can you tell us about some of the recurring objects in your work such as strings, disembodied limbs and floating heads. What do they represent for you?
Arghavan Khosravi: In general, I am interested in depicting scenes and situations that at the first glance, might seem peaceful, normal and comfortable, but the more you look at what’s going on, you find moments where something dark and slightly violent is occurring. The body fragments, for example, give a feeling that the characters in the painting are lacking control not only over the situation, but also their own body. You can look at it as a metaphor for the suppression which happens under autocratic systems.

Another metaphor I use for suppression is the red string. I am thinking about all the “red lines” that are drawn which mustn’t be overpassed. These lines can be drawn systematically by an authoritarian regime or can be drawn by tradition in more patriarchal societies, which mostly, target women. I am mostly interested in using visual metaphors that don’t look too violent at first, but present an underlying sense of suffocation or disturbance.

Arghavan Khosravi, Black Rain, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery

LUX: You seem to like adding sculptural and three-dimensional elements to your paintings, and often use a shaped canvas. Do you start a painting knowing that you will use a shaped canvas or do you sometimes change the shape after starting a painting?
Arghavan Khosravi: The sculptural elements started when I decided to experiment with shape panels, which I talked about earlier, I stretch canvas over the shaped wood panels, so it’s almost impossible to change its shape after I start a painting. Therefore, I pre-plan most of the painting before building the shaped panel, and I have a clear idea what imagery is going to be painted within that shape.

LUX: Another formalist aspect of your work is the ‘trompe l’oeil’ technique, which sometimes makes it difficult to delineate what’s painted and what’s not.
Arghavan Khosravi: I am interested in the idea of juxtaposing a two dimensional painted surface which mimics three-dimensionality with actual three dimensional elements in the paintings. I like how it can invite the viewer to explore more time with the piece in order to figure out which part is which. I am also interested in the notion of duality and having contrasting visual elements. This contrast can be in materialistic aspects of the paintings (like the contrast between a 2D surface and a constructed 3D element) or it can be more about the subject matter. For example, the juxtaposition of imagery appropriated from an Eastern context beside Western, or the contrast can be historic versus contemporary and so forth.

mixed media painting

Arghavan Khosravi, Entrapment, 2021. Courtesy Carl Kostyál Gallery

LUX: In one of your works the red string is physically wrapped around a canvas so that you can see dents at the edges. How did you do it?
Arghavan Khosravi: To achieve that effect, before stretching the canvas over the wood panel, I carved the sides of the wood panel in a way which makes the hard surface of the panel look like a soft smooth material that’s being compressed when a rope is tightly wrapped around it. This approach again aligns with the notion of duality and contrast that I talked about in the previous question. This time it’s the contrast is between a soft and a hard material.

Read more: Uplifting new paintings by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

LUX: Another Iranian artist that works a lot with trompe l’oeil is Mehdi Ghadyanloo. Do you know his work?
Arghavan Khosravi: Yes, I am very much familiar with his work and really like it. I first encountered his work when he used to make large murals all over Tehran where I grew up and was living before immigrating to the US. It was so fascinating to see his creative ways to give the illusion of depth and space in his murals so that the 2D painted surface of the wall seemed like the continuation of the actual buildings and space surrounding it. Before him (with a few exceptions), most of the murals were at the service of the state propaganda or had ideological purposes.

painting of a mystical woman

Arghavan Khosravi, The Balance, 2019. Courtesy the artist.

LUX: Who are your favourite Iranian artists that deserve more attention in the West?
Arghavan Khosravi: One Iranian artist that comes to mind is Bahman Mohasses. I also really like Nazgol Ansarinia’s work.

LUX: Born soon after the Islamic Revolution, you witnessed Iran’s transformation from a Western-friendly monarchy into a suppressive theocratic republic. How did you experience this growing up and what did your parents teach you?
Arghavan Khosravi: I was born and grew up in a non religious family, so there was a more secular/liberal way of thinking and living, but when I stepped out of that ‘private space’ into the ‘public space’ I could see that everything was very different. So, like so many other Iranians, I was taught by my parents how to navigate this dual life from an early age. For example ,there were certain things we did at home that mustn’t be mentioned at school, or we did things at school that I personally didn’t really believe in like saying prayers with other students which was compulsory in my middle school. Or we had to pretend to abide by some rules in public, which we don’t really believe in, such as the compulsory hijab. I think the notion of duality that I’m exploring in my paintings is a result of reflecting on those life experiences and memories from Iran.

textured painting

Arghavan Khosravi, Fragility of Peace, 2019. Courtesy the artist

LUX: In your 2017 Muslim Ban series you use pages of your Iranian passport as a canvas and there’s also your Self-Censorship series. Can you tell us more about those works?
Arghavan Khosravi: In early 2017, only a week after I came back from a short trip to Iran during the school’s winter break, an executive order was signed which prevented citizens of six muslim-majority countries from entering the US. It meant that if I had returned to the US a week later, I could have got stuck in Iran and wouldn’t have been able to finish my degree. Also, it meant that I wasn’t able to exit the US for an unknown period of time. My first reaction to the news was anger and a feeling of being treated with disrespect. I thought of using this anger as fuel in my studio, but the blank canvas didn’t feel right. So I had this idea of painting on pages of my expired passport and weaving my narrative into the visual structure that was already there.

When you grow up under the suppression of an autocratic system which limits freedom of speech, you start to develop self-censorship as a defence mechanism, and sometimes you’re not even aware of it. Therefore, you start to suppress your own freedom of expression to avoid getting in trouble. In the Self-Censorship series I was interested in exploring these themes using a symbolic language. It is worth mentioning that symbolism itself can be one of the tools to circumvent censorship because when you use symbols and metaphors to convey certain thoughts you can always say that this particular thought is the viewer’s interpretation of your work and not necessarily your own idea. But of course when I use symbolism now, where I have freedom of expression, I have different reasons for this choice.

collage painting

Arghavan Khosravi, Hafez (The Muslim Ban Series), 2017. Courtesy the artist

LUX: Your paintings are so intricate they seem very laborious to produce. How long does it take you, on average, to finish a painting and do you work on multiple paintings at the same time?
Arghavan Khosravi: Depending on the size, it takes me about 2 to 5 weeks to finish each piece. Usually, the paintings with 3D elements and multi-panels take longer because there is more than one surface to paint on. I rarely work on several paintings at the same time because if I leave a painting unfinished and move to a new one, I get very excited about the new piece and won’t feel like going back to the older piece. I have works lying in my studio from two years ago that are still left unfinished.

3d painting

Arghavan Khosravi, Four Elements, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery

LUX: Finally, tell us about your current show In Between Places at Rachel Uffner Gallery in NYC. How do you think your practice has evolved or changed since your last show in NYC at Lyles & King in 2019?
Arghavan Khosravi: This latest body of work was made in isolation during the past year of quarantine. The works build upon my previous explorations of techniques taken from historical painting genres, such as the use of stacked perspective in Persian miniature paintings, while also incorporating new sculptural and three-dimensional elements that further emphasise qualities of illusion and artifice. The paintings are rendered on surfaces that have been layered to create visual depth, which somehow evoke the structure of a theatrical set and the corresponding implication of a not-quite-real world built on false appearances.

“Arghavan Khosravi: In Between Places” runs until 5 June 2021 at Rachel Uffner, New York. For more information: racheluffnergallery.com

Arghavan Khosravi’s solo exhibition at Carl Kostyal, London opens in June. For more information, visit: kostyal.com/exhibitions

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painting of a woman in green
painting of a woman in green

Tamara de Łempicka, Young Lady with Gloves (1930)

As part on an ongoing monthly column for LUX, artnet’s Vice President Sophie Neuendorf outlines a brief history of women artists, and discusses their recent rise to prominence

Sophie Neuendorf

We define ourselves, as nations and individuals, mainly through our respective cultures. Since the stone age, art has been a signpost for humanity, and a reflection of history and the zeitgeist. Over the past few years, we’ve often been amazed by the discoveries made by archaeologists and what these tell us about generations past and how humanity has evolved since.

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Artists were first commissioned to illustrate the word of God for those unable to read and since then, art has evolved to not only depict religious or mythological scenes, but also the joys and perils of everyday life. Especially in Italy, France, and Spain, prominent political, royal, and influential families commissioned artists to portray their lives for posterity.

However, the artists receiving public recognition for their contribution to the documentation of culture, have until, very recently, only been male. But how can an accurate portrayal of humanity take place when women (who make up half of the world’s population) are marginalised or ignored?

women artists

Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Self-Portrait

Paying a historical debt, the contribution of women to the canon has only been recognised in recent years. The first documented female artists emerged during the Renaissance, during a time when it was either considered not ‘seemly’ and completely forbidden for women to be artists, and several obstacles stood in their way. First and foremost, their training would include the dissection of cadavers and the study of the nude male form, while the system of apprenticeship meant that aspiring artists would have to live with an older artist for several years. This made it nearly impossible for Renaissance women to follow this path, seeing as other “expected duties” took precedent. Florentine artist Artemisia Gentileschi (1593 – 1653) was one of the few artists able to practice her passion. Trained by her father, she was the first female artist to be admitted to the prestigious Florence Academy of Fine Arts.

Read more: Alia Al-Senussi on art as a catalyst for change

Several years later in France, Neoclassical painter Adelaïde Labille-Guiard (1749 – 1803) became one of the first women artists to be admitted to the distinguished Académie Royale, where she exhibited her works. Soon after, she was appointed Peintre des Mesdames: painter to the King’s aunts. Astonishingly, several male painters were so threatened by Adelaïde, that they spread rumours alleging sexual misconduct in order to discredit her. But she persevered, and became a mentor many other female artists.

One of her contemporaries was the completely self-taught artist Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. Active during some of the most turbulent times in European history, she was admitted into the French Academy as one of only four female members, thanks to the intervention of Marie Antoinette. Forced to flee Paris during the Revolution, Vigée Le Brun traveled throughout Europe, impressively obtaining commissions in Florence, Naples, Vienna, Saint Petersburg, and Berlin before returning to France after the conflict settled.

abstract painting

Joan Mitchell, Untitled (1979)

Only a few years later but on a different continent, American artist Mary Cassatt was born in Philadelphia. Headstrong and independent, she trained as an artist and fled to Europe in order to study Old Master paintings in Spain and France. After befriending Edgar Degas, Cassatt was invited into the Impressionist circle, and by the turn of the century, her reputation was thriving in France. In 1904, she was named a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur. Soon, American artists in Paris sought her blessing and advice, while wealthy Americans sought her discerning eye and connections.

Courtesy of artnet

In the same century, Polish-Russian aristocratic artist Tamara de Lempicka took the French art scene by storm. Forced to flee St Petersburg and the Russian Revolution in 1917, de Lempicka headed for Paris, where she studied painting in the ateliers of Maurice Denis and André Lhote, and quickly found success. By the early 1920s her works were appearing in major Paris exhibitions, such as the Salon d’Automne and the Salon des Tuileries. Nicknamed “the baroness with the paintbrush,” she is renowned for her art deco style which oozed cool chic and elegant sensuality.

Not long after, but on the other side of the world, Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama began painting at an early age. Without any formal training, she emigrated to New York to pursue her passion. Now famed for her psychedelic paintings and sculptures, Kusama remains one of the top 10 highest grossing women artists in the world.

artist in the studio

Yayoi Kusama in the studio

That brings us to 2021, the era of ‘me too,’ and a question arises: has the work of women artists been reduced to gender politics and to the circumstances of its production rather than being judged for its quality?

Read more: A prima ballerina dances in the London lockdown moonlight

Even though women artists are finally being recognised and forming a formidable part of the canon, it will take another few years for them to feel completely secure and appreciated in the art world. Ground-breaking artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, or Cindy Sherman have liberated themselves from identity politics and are held in esteem by the quality of their oeuvre.

However, regardless of the obvious quality of their work, there is one glaring aspect which hasn’t yet translated: when looking at the monetary value of female artists in comparison to male artists, female artists are still incredibly undervalued. In 2020 alone, the top 10 highest grossing female artists achieved $322,780,748 in comparison to their male counterparts, who achieved $1,590,134,429 (source: artnet Price Database).

graph tracing gender imbalance in art world

Infographic courtesy of artnet

While we can’t undo the past, we can work towards building a richer and more equal picture of art history, ensuring that future generations see us through all facets of humanity. How else, if not through the arts, are we supposed to learn from the past and create a brighter future for humanity?

Follow Sophie Neuendorf on Instagram: @sophieneuendorf

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Abstract painting of a curved black line
Surreal photograph of a woman with a star for a head

‘Mannequin-étoile'(1936), Dora Maar. © Adagp, Paris, 2019. Photo © Centre Pompidou

To the majority of people, Dora Maar is Picasso’s lover and his muse, and yet Maar was an innovative and avant-garde artist in her own right – before Picasso came into the picture. In the Pompidou’s latest retrospective exhibition, Dora Maar is finally given the centre stage she deserves.

There are nearly 500 of her works and documents on display, inviting the visitor to journey through the entire length of her career, from her initial works as a professional photographer in the fashion industry, to the capturing of both political and social concerns in her street photography, and her central involvement in the surrealist movement. This is the first exhibit of Maar’s work at a national museum, presenting the rare opportunity to see works from both public and private collections in one place.

Surreal photograph of woman's legs disembodied

‘Sans titre’ (1935), Dora Maar. © Adagp, Paris 2019. Photo credit © Centre Pompidou

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The stand out pieces of the show are her iconic surreal photographs. They are oddities formed of auto-curious objects which hold us between disbelief and reality, as seen in Mannequin-Étoile (1936) and sans titre (1935). In Mannequin-Étoile we are positioned to be frustrated, caught between identifying the stage set and the female performer, but also restrained from knowing or seeing the whole truth – we are unclear of where she is going and who she is. Her star head simultaneously functions as a clue to the theatre setting and a disguise. It is through Maar’s use of the uncanny and strange that we are able to identify the influence of other surrealist photographers such as Man Ray and Hans Bellmer, as well as other artists such as Breton and Miro. Like them, her work continues to actively challenge and provoke its audiences, inviting us to embrace new perspectives and break away from the norm.

Naked woman photographed against a wall with her shadow

‘Assia’ (1934), Dora Maar. © Adagp, Paris 2019 / Photo © Centre Pompidou

Rosie Ellison-Balaam

‘Dora Maar’ runs until 29 July 2019 at the Pompidou Centre, Paris. For more information visit: centrepompidou.fr

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Neon pink lights spelling Another World in Italics
Neon pink lights spelling Another World in Italics

‘Another World’, Tracey Emin

Artist Tracey Emin and Deutsche Bank are marking 100 years of women’s suffrage with a show of work by female artists from the bank’s collection at Frieze London and Frieze Masters, as well as a secret postcard sale for women’s charities. Anny Shaw reports from the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounges
Portrait of artist Tracey Emin wearing a black blazer and top

Tracey Emin. Image by Richard Young

To mark this year’s centenary of voting rights for women in the UK and Germany (and the fact there are still places in the world where women can’t or find it difficult to vote), the British artist Tracey Emin and her studio have curated an exhibition of around 60 works by female artists drawn from the Deutsche Bank Collection. Over the course of 35 years, the firm has accrued one of the world’s largest collections of works on paper.

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Entitled ‘Another World’, the exhibition spans both Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounges in Frieze Masters and Frieze London, featuring 34 artists working from the late 19th century to the present day. Emin’s selection includes titans such as Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945), whose depictions of women and the working class countered the dominant male rhetoric of the time, and Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010), whom Emin admired greatly and collaborated with shortly before the French-born American artist died.

Painting of red hands reaching with the words ‘10am is when you come to me’ by Louise Bourgeois

‘10am is when you come to me’ (2006) by Louise Bourgeois

 

For the show, Emin has chosen Bourgeois’s 10am is when you come to me (2006), a work with 20 etchings including depictions of the hands of the artist and those of her assistant Jerry Gorovoy, painted with watercolor and gouache in various shades of red and pink. Contemporary artists featured in Emin’s selection include Maggi Hambling (b. 1945), whose 1993 aquatint of a heron “appears somewhat comical”, in Hambling’s words, and Marlene Dumas (b. 1953), whose work entitled Girl from a Dutch Painting (1991) represents a state of mind rather than being a portrait of a particular person.

A Show for Everyone

Although the show is dedicated to women (Emin and her studio reviewed all of the 670 female artists in the collection), Emin says she wants the theme “to relate to everybody”. The title could refer to a liminal or dream-like state, she points out. “Another world can be the twilight time when we are half asleep and half awake. Or literally another world, another universe, the animal kingdom, or for me personally, another world represents the afterlife,” Emin says. The artist has created a new neon work, Another World, especially for the show.

“We always look to provide a stimulating and relaxing environment for our guests in our VIP lounges, whether they want to take in our exclusive exhibitions or simply take a break during their visit,” says Nicola West, Global Head of Events, Partnerships & Sponsorships at Deutsche Bank Wealth Management. “This year, Tracey and her team have created something truly spectacular.”

Charcoal drawing of a woman seated on a bench by Käthe Kollwitz

Käthe Kollwitz’s charcoal drawing ‘Frau, auf einer Bank sitzend’ (Woman, sitting on a bench) (1905)

A quarter of the 2,694 artists in the Deutsche Bank Collection are women – higher than the 4% at the National Gallery of Scotland and 20% at the Whitworth in Manchester, though less than the 35% at Tate Modern. However, Mary Findlay, International Curator in the Bank’s Art, Culture & Sports division, acknowledges there is still work to be done. “We are always looking to buy more works by women,” she says. “Diversity and promoting women is something that Deutsche Bank is vocal about. This exhibition is a good way to continue that conversation.”

With the advent of the #MeToo movement and the centenary of women’s suffrage, the art world certainly appears to be changing. So what advice would Emin give to young female artists trying to forge a career today? “Use really good contraceptives,” she quips. “Don’t sleep with gallerists or anybody who could enhance your career. Try to be logical in all your arguments and if that doesn’t work scream the house down. Work every hour God sends.” But most important of all? “Do not compare yourself to anybody.”

‘Another World’ Postcard Project and Sale

Inspired by the annual secret postcard sale held by the Royal College of Art (where Emin studied) and by historical suffragette postcards, which were produced by campaigners for women’s rights as well as by those who opposed them, Emin has approached women artists in the Deutsche Bank Collection and asked them to contribute unique postcard works to the charity exhibition and sale. The result is in excess of 800 works. The project is in aid of organizations, yet to be chosen, that support vulnerable women in London and in Margate, where Emin grew up and now has a studio.

The postcards, priced at £200 each, will be sold anonymously, with around three-quarters on view in the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge and a quarter available online. “What’s really interesting about selling works anonymously is that suddenly the name of the artist, and all that entails, isn’t important. You’re using your eye and your intuition to respond to what you see,” says Findlay. “That reflects the ethos of the Deutsche Bank Collection – we’re not about big names. Supporting creativity is at the heart of what we do.”

The long-term aim, Findlay continues, is to “create a legacy, and to do something concrete to actually help women who are the victims of abuse and change things for the future.” She expects the financial benefit of the project to continue into next year and beyond for the selected charities. “We have set up the Tracey Emin and Deutsche Bank Centenary Fund, which, with the large number of unique artworks we have to sell, will become a multi-year legacy,” she says.

Watercolour painting of a girl's face by Marlene Dumas

‘Girl from a Dutch Painting’ (1991) by Marlene Dumas

Maggi Hambling

The Suffolk-born painter and sculptor Maggi Hambling, chosen by the campaigners Mary on the Green to create a public sculpture in London to celebrate the feminist writer and thinker Mary Wollstonecraft, was quick to respond when Emin wrote asking for the women artists represented in the collection to submit postcards for charity. “Almost every day a case of domestic abuse is revealed. It takes a lot of bravery to come forward and talk about it,” she says. “If the sale of these postcards helps those who help the victims of abuse, then it’s a great idea.” Hambling says she opted to paint something “rather jolly”. She adds: “I haven’t tried to paint victims. I hope I have done something quite joyous.”

Hambling has sent in postcards to RCA Secret, the Royal College of Art’s annual fundraising secret postcard exhibition, every year since it began in 1994. She is a keen advocate of raising money for emerging artists who are struggling financially; the scheme has raised £1m so far. The anonymous postcard sale is a format that has gained popularity, particularly among charities, but that doesn’t diminish their power, the artist says. “The more attention that is drawn to the victims of abuse the better, and I hope people will spend lots of money on these [Deutsche Bank] postcards. There will be something for everyone; all artists are different.”

Elizabeth Magill

The Irish painter Elizabeth Magill, who has a conference room named after her at the Deutsche Bank headquarters in London, is no stranger to philanthropy. This year she has produced work for no fewer than four charities, including a project with the Imperial Charity marking the National Health Service’s 70th anniversary.

A decade ago, Deutsche Bank acquired a set of 10 lithographs of landscapes by Magill, which have inspired the artist’s postcards. “I wanted to do something that directly relates to that series of prints,” she says. The artist is represented in ‘Another World’ by the painting Bonn 2 (2003), which she describes as “not a landscape as such, but more like a suggested backdrop to how I feel, think and interpret the world”.

A washed out landscape painting with small black figures of people walking by artist Elizabeth Magill

‘Bonn 2’ (2003) by Elizabeth Magill

For Magill, an exhibition of women artists, coupled with the postcard project, could not be more timely. “Because of the #MeToo movement and the highlighting of the gender pay gap, I think we are entering into another world for women. At least I hope we are entering another world, although it remains to be seen; we thought the same in the 1960s,” she ponders. Despite the hurdles, Magill says she has never been preoccupied with her position as a woman. “I have always been concerned first and foremost with my work. My advice to a young woman today would be: just focus on your work, don’t be dissuaded.”

Emel Geris

“To begin with, I did not realize that the postcards would be shown – and sold – anonymously. I saw them as a natural progression of my paintings and just started working,” says the Berlin-based Turkish artist Emel Geris, before wondering: “I hope they won’t be too easily recognized!”

The only difference between the postcards and Geris’s typical work is the scale. “I adjusted the series I am currently working on to the card format, nothing more,” she says.

Tracey Emin has selected Geris’s painting, Dahinter (behind) (2017) for ‘Another World’. The work is part of a series that “deals with dreams, impermanence, trauma and other similar themes”, Geris says. “I created these pictures spontaneously, one after another, like a diary. I still work with these sorts of themes today, but in a completely different way. To see them after so many years seems like another world.” Geris says the #MeToo debate is part of a long-running narrative that is likely to continue for some time. “As long as this strange world keeps rotating, it will probably always be important,” she says. “We have to keep striving to make things better.”

Rosemarie Trockel display

Twenty-one watercolor sketches by the German artist Rosemarie Trockel, many of which depict heads in various guises, have been selected by Tracey Emin to hang in the wide corridor of the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge that leads to the fair itself.

Most striking among them are a group of drawings that show what appears to be a man’s head, in profile, with a wildly protruding nose, often painted bright red. “Trockel’s ‘Nose’ or ‘Pinocchio’ drawings exist in various versions in both black and white and color, and are mainly from the 1990s,” says Monika Sprüth, the co-founder of the Sprüth Magers gallery, which represents the artist. Trockel has also employed this motif in her sculptures. “They alternate between the figure of Pinocchio, the liar, and a phallic representation,” Sprüth says. “But interestingly the portrait has no clear female or male characteristics. Like many of her works, it deals with gender-specific assignments in a humorous way.”

Watercolour painting of a face with a pinocchio nose

Rosemarie Trockel, ‘Untitled’ (1994)

Other works on display reflect recurring themes in Trockel’s work, such as portraits of monkeys, people sleeping and domestic objects such as vases and pots. Trockel rose to fame by shifting the way traditionally feminine materials were used – and perceived – by the male-dominated art world, shunning painting in favor of drawing and crafts.

“We’re delighted that such outstanding artists are represented in both the exhibition and the sale,” says Nicola West. “The result is an environment that will not only engage our guests but also give them a chance to participate in a memorable event for a very worthy cause.”

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Exhibition of Historical Suffragette Postcards

Suffragette postcard depicting a man and woman fighting in a garden with the woman holding a frying pan as a weapon annotated with an anti-suffrage message

This comic postcard has been annotated with an anti-suffrage message, an example of anti-suffragette ‘hate mail’

A 1907 photograph of “a Lancashire lass in clogs & shawl” being escorted by police from a demonstration outside the House of Commons in Westminster and a cartoon of a stern-looking woman in a meeting hall full of men being asked if she will “go quietly” or be thrown out “by force” are just two examples of some 60 suffragette postcards that will go on show as part of the project.

Deutsche Bank will reproduce postcards from the Museum of London, which holds the world’s largest collection of material related to the militant wing of the suffragette campaign. In 1926, former members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and the Women’s Freedom League (WFL) came together as the Suffragette Fellowship “to perpetuate the memory of the pioneers”. In 1950, they offered their collection of memoirs and archives to the then London Museum.

Historical suffragette photograph in black and white of women's parade holding signs with the suffrage message

Poster parade organized by the Women’s Freedom League to promote the suffrage message

The Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounges will offer a unique opportunity to view postcards promoting both sides of the struggle. Many of the works for the pro-suffrage campaign were produced by two artist groups, Suffrage Atelier and the Artists’ Suffrage League.

“For the suffrage campaigners, it was all about getting the message into the home,” says Beverley Cook, curator of social and working history at the Museum of London. “They wanted to raise the profile of the campaign and present it not just as something concerning politicians, but integrating the fight into every part of life.”

the signage for historical suffragetto board game

Suffragetto, a board game produced by the Women’s Social and Political Union, from the exhibition ‘Sappho to Suffrage: Women who Dared’, at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 2018

On the other side of the political fence, satirical postcards mocked suffragettes, often depicting them as harridans or as wives and mothers who had abandoned their duties. “They were less formal ‘anti-suffrage’ and more like comic postcards. They were incredibly popular,” Cook says.
With up to seven postal deliveries a day in some parts of Britain, postcards were an effective form of communication. “They were cheap and would often carry very short messages, like ‘See you tomorrow at 2pm’. The telephone was not widely used at the time,” Cook explains. The WSPU and the WFL, which had suffrage shops in nearly every high street, with 19 branches in London alone, were popular outlets.

comical post card of a man fallen over with stars from his head with a satirical suffragette message

Commercially produced postcard satirising the suffragette movement

So just how effective were the postcards? Financially, they “added to the suffragettes’ war chest”, Cook says, noting that the sheer number in the museum’s collection (several hundred) indicates their success. “The fact that they have found their way into museum and gallery collections is proof of their currency.” Not only that, but they have also inspired a new generation of contemporary artists to produce postcards. As Cook points out: “The campaign is still as relevant today; it’s just a different battle. In essence, it’s all about women working together to become a force for change.”

Suffragette exhibitions in 2018

Sappho to Suffrage: Women who Dared
(Bodleian Library, Oxford, until February 2019)

Votes for Women
(Museum of London, until 6 January 2019)

Voice & Vote: Women’s Place in Parliament
(Houses of Parliament, until 6 October 2018)

A Woman’s Place
(Abbey House Museum, Leeds, until 31 December 2018)

Ladies of Quality & Distinction
(The Foundling Museum, London, until 20 January 2019)

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