2Q2016 Travails of an art advisor
April brought exciting new work in Amsterdam as my team began to restore a large and beautiful 1920’s private residence. This very exciting project will also include developing and installing a one-of-a-kind collection of artwork. Earlier in the month, I visited Den Bosch for the unique and spectacular Vision of a Genius, highlighting the work of Jeronimus Bosch and drawing worldwide attention because such a broad and significant amount of Bosch’s paintings and drawings had never been shown together. Many of the paintings were studied and restored for years before the exhibition by art historians, curators and restoration experts as part of the Bosch Research and Conservation Project.
A brief visit to the Fondation Pierre Bergé in Paris, during which Bergé personally showed me his collection of Bernard Buffet works, was also invigorating. Bergé was Buffet’s lover in the early 1950s, the formative years of Buffet’s stellar career, and still owns a good number of works from that period. It was a delight to see these works in the run-up to the Buffet retrospective at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, October 14 – February 27, 2017.
The opening of Taryn Simon’s Paperwork and the Will of Capital at the Gagosian Gallery in Rome was the final high point of a busy month. The exhibition examines the fascinating and peculiar relationship between international treaties and the flower arrangements displayed at their signing. While I was in Rome, my friend Roberto Bilotti showed me the incredible collection of his friend Prince Jonathan Doria Pamphilj and his partner Elson Edeno Braga at their 1,000-room private palace. Most memorable was a Velázquez portrait of Giovanni Battista Pamphilj, who reigned as Pope Innocent X from 1644 to 1655. This work was a major influence on British painter Francis Bacon.
In May the Frieze New York art fair brought a series of wonderful exhibitions and events: A fascinating show of rarely-seen Asgor Jorn works at the Petzel Gallery uptown. Mirror Cells, examining artists’ notions of angst, perceived or real, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, curated by associate curators Christopher Y. Lew and Jane Panetta. And Manus + Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology at the Metropolitan Museum, designed by OMA partner Shohei Shigematsu. Frieze itself was a regular art fair, except for the booth of Galerie Hervé Bize, dedicated to the French painter, sculptor and light artist Francois Morellet, who died May 10, shortly after the fair.
June was even busier than April, with the grand opening of Manifesta 11, What People Do For Money, in Zurich . Curated by artist Christian Jankowski, the show focused on Zurich’s primary enterprise, banking, and its effect on contemporary art, linking artists with people from a variety of professions to create collaborative works. Spread out over different work locations throughout the city, the show came together best in two venues, Lowenbrau and Helmhaus, and even more so at the beautiful Pavillon of Reflection on Lake Zurich, which offered documentaries about each collaboration and the chance to take a dip in the lake.
From Zurich it was straight to Basel for the 46th edition of Art | Basel. In addition to a very strong fair, there was the long-anticipated opening of the Kunsthaus Basel. Nina Zimmer, then deputy director, explained the opportunities and challenges of the new addition, designed by Swiss architects Christ & Gantenbein. The results — a beautiful and fittingly monochrome building – also include a very successful re-interpretation and rejuvenation of the gloomy 1930s neoclassical building.
After Basel, another long-awaited project beckoned in Italy. On Lago Isoa, near Lago di Como in the Alto Adige foothills of Bergamo, artist Christo has planned for years to connect a number of small islands with a series of walkways. Floating Piers was a colossal feat, overcoming technical problems, security issues, the well-known lethargy of civil servants and, not least, financial challenges. Christo funded the full installation. To walk on these piers in the early morning hours of June 18, before the stampede that followed, was magical. The sun emerged between heavy showers, bouncing off the intense Buddhist orange of the decking, as water lapped all around with no protective barriers. Suddenly Christo appeared on a boat, waving proudly, as if he were a pope. Rumors abounded that the real pope would come but were not confirmed. His Holiness missed a miracle.