FOREWORD The second half of the 20th century was marked by one of the biggest breaks with the past ever to be witnessed in the history of art. For over 40 years indeed, it has been obvious that a new movement overtook Modern Art: that movement is known as Contemporary Art. Modern Art was undoubtedly an audacious art movement, although it remained within the traditional aesthetics lines. But, unlike the Moderns, Contemporary artists have emancipated from all conventions and have introduced a disruption even deeper than the one that had already occurred at the beginning of the century. The post-war period in Europe prefigured this break with the past. If art critic Winckelman defined the artists as ‘the creator of ideal forms’ at the end of the 18th century, the end of all illusionism and classicism after the Second World War shatters this idea. This era will be the age of glory for Modern Art, recognised by all the main cultural institutions in the Western world. The Masters of this movement are praised, especially Matisse and Picasso. In this context, abstraction starts appearing in different fashions. The art history will remember notably four leaders of the abstract movement. Hans Hartung, Master of informal art and undoubtedly a precursor of action painting; Pierre Soulages, the ‘painter of the dark and light’, recognised as one of the main figures of abstraction movement and most famous contemporary French painter. On the other side, Sam Francis developed in his abstract works a new aesthetics of colour that is now widely recognised. Through their art, these artists embody the questioning of the moral and artistic Man in his quest toward the inner and subjective representations. This quest will continue through the ‘art brut’ movement with Jean Dubuffet, who renewed the artistic vocabulary of the period. Almost simultaneously through the 1950s’ and 1960s’, the centre of gravity of the art world moved from Paris to New York - although one must admit that the 1980s’ saw a relative globalisation of the art stage. Indeed, New York became a central place for avant-garde artistic creation. The exile of Yayoi Kusama is a great example of it: crossing boundaries, Kusama liberated herself from all link with Japan, 2
all but the memory of an immense culture. ‘It was an era of great excitement for Action Painting. I felt like it was important for me to create an original art, emerging from my own inner world only’, she says. Kusama gave birth to a prolific and somehow obsessional body of artworks all articulated around the repetition of shapes - her famous dots for instance. An exceptional artist, her work has influenced many various artists such as Andy Warhol and, more recently, Takashi Murakami. In the 1960s’, marked by the consumer society, artists tend to return to realism: figuration is back in the place of honour. In the United Kingdom and the United States, Pop Art triumphs through legendary names like Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselmann. They depict the urban scene and give visibility to the immense world of consumer goods that are the daily surroundings of these societies. In France, more discreetly, the New Realism appears like an echo of the Pop Art movement, highlighting a fascination for the trivial that is tainted with political commitment. Niki de Saint Phalle, the only female artist in the movement, differentiates herself from her peers by a strong and obvious feminism: in her sculptures, for example, she questions the condition of women in the 1960s. New Realism, an art practice that was oblivious to the worldwide success of Pop Art, emerges with its leading artists Yves Klein and Arman who paved the way for the movement. Back in New York in less urban settings brighter than those depicted by pop artists. In the Bronx and Harlem, new art practices emerged, that of Graffiti and more broadly Street Art, which have now become a global practice. Jean-Michel Basquiat is considered the figurehead. Belonging to the generation of Graffiti artists who suddenly appeared at the end of the 1970’s, Basquiat has left a considerable body of work, inhabited by death, racism and his own destiny. His world mixes the sacred mythology of voodoo and the Bible, as well as the advertising and media, the African-American heroes of music and boxing and finally the affirmation of his ‘blackness’. In 1983, he became the youngest and first black artist to ever be exhibited at the Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. An overview of Contemporary Art must inevitably take into account the emergence of new artistic 3
scenes such as in China, Japan and Iran. Our societies have now accepted the idea that the culture and civilisation are no longer part of the monopoly of the Western Christian society but are rather moving to other spheres including political and social changes that greatly work in favour of development of the artistic field. In the 1970s’, there was a boom in the Chinese art scene. Despite reluctance and obvious political tensions, Chinese art wanted to critique the living conditions and the government in place. Feng Zheng Jie, a major artist from ‘The School of Kitsch’, has focused on the identity of the younger generation. Yue Minjun is considered one of the key figures of the ‘cynical realism’ movement after the student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989. He highlights the vulnerability and anxiety of a collective yet individual changing society. At the other end of the world, in Iran, art is blooming as well through the art of Tanavoli, father of the modern sculpture and a key member of the movement of ‘Saqqakhaneh’. Through the famous three Persian characters ‘Heech’ (meaning nothing), the artist reflects the feelings of unworthiness, frustration and powerlessness that lie within the Iranian society since the 1960s’. A couple of years later, the artist Koorosh Shishegaran revealed his conception on the modern world through his paintings. He appears as a complex artist, on the verge of exploding, just as the twisted lines that invade the canvas. In Japan, Nara Yoshitomo realised a work whose themes are closer to the current malaise of Japanese youth and result in a constant introspective search of identity. The ill being and quest for identity are inscribed in the vast majority of work by artists from these new artistic scenes. No more predominant tendencies in painting will be seen before the new millennium, and neither will avant-garde theories nor major streams. Yet, does it mean that Contemporary Art is only contextual and about identity? Such a conclusion would be simplistic and inaccurate. In light of two major contemporary movements such as the collective Young British Artists (YBAs), or that of the New English Sculpture, some subjects appear recurrent such as the body, the space, new technologies and the media.
representatives of British Contemporary Art and his work deals mainly with the mutability of the body over time, its physical presence in space and the anxiety of living within a culture. As with Julian Opie, he reduces the image to the essential and transgresses the boundary between painting and sculpture. In his experiments with technology and the digital image, Opie is freed from traditional media. Finally Chris Ofili created a painting that blurs the boundaries between pleasure and displeasure, the acceptable and the outrageous. David Mach is an artist of excess who uses the aesthetic and the proliferation of manufactured goods. His creations, initially designed to expose the humour and irony of consumerism, do emphasise the beauty of everyday life, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. From now on, art will question us, measuring our own limits and exploring our taboos. Finally, design is the culmination of artistic liberation. At the border of the visual arts, design has invaded our environment through its uniqueness. Ron Arad today remains one of the most famous designers of the world, both in the artistic sphere and on the market. Through this exhibition, Opera Gallery aspires to render homage to the major contemporary artists whose work has contributed to the progression and evolution of art history. Gilles Dyan Founder and Chairman Opera Gallery Group
Jean-David Malat Director Opera Gallery London
Indeed, the collective of YBAs is characterized by the rejection of aesthetic theories and schools of thought and that they will rather trigger knee-jerk reactions to the viewer. Forerunner Damien Hirst mediates hyper growth through provocation and reflection on the idea of mortality and the consciousness of the end. On the other hand, Marc Quinn is one of the leading 4
(1904 - 1989)
T1985 - H1, 1985 Acrylic on canvas 60 x 81 cm – 23.6 x 31.9 in.
This work will be included in the Catalogue raisonné de l’oeuvre de Hans Hartung undertaken by the Fondation Hans Hartung et Anna-Eva Bergman
Anna-Eva Bergman and the Fondation Hans Hartung have confirmed the authenticity of this work 6
(1919 - )
Peinture 130 x 81 cm, 12 avril 1989 Signed ‘SOULAGES 12 AV. 1989’ (on the reverse) Oil on canvas 130 x 81 cm – 51.2 x 31.9 in.
Galerie Fandos, Valence Galerie Protée, Paris Private collection, Paris
Valence, Galerie Fandos, Pierre Soulages, Dec. 1989, ill. in the exhibition catalogue Paris, Galerie Lansberg, Rétrospective Soulages, Oct.-Dec. 2009, ill. in colour p. 55 of the exhibition catalogue
P. Encrevé, Soulages, L’ œuvre complet, Peintures, Vol. III, 1979-1997, Paris, 1998, No. 1013, ill. p. 216
Pierre Soulages has confirmed the authenticity of this work 8
(1923 - 1994)
Untitled, 1980 Signed and dated ‘Sam Francis 1980’ (on the reverse), and numbered ‘SFP80-18’ (on the overlap) Oil on canvas 60,3 x 50,8 cm – 23.7 x 20 in.
Private collection, USA 10
(1901 - 1985)
Réchaud - Four à gaz V, 1966 Signed, dated and dedicated ‘J. Dubuffet 66 pour André’ (lower right corner); signed, titled and dated ‘J. Dubuffet réchaud-four à gaz V mars 66’ (on the reverse) Vinyl on canvas 116 x 89 cm – 45.7 x 35 in.
Acquired from the artist Acquired by the present owner by descent from the above
Max Loreau, Catalogue des Travaux de Jean Dubuffet, l’Hourloupe II, Fascicule XXI, Paris, 1968, No. 287, ill. p. 160 12
Infinity nets, 1993 Acrylic on canvas 91 x 61 cm – 35.8 x 24 in. 14
(1929 - )
(1929 - )
The imminent death, 1989 Acrylic on canvas 38 x 46 cm – 15 x 18.1 in.
The Yayoi Kusama Studio has confirmed the authenticity of this work 16
(1928 - 1987)
Guns, 1981 Silkscreen ink and acrylic on canvas 41 x 51 cm - 16.1 x 20.1 in.
Estate of the Artist
The Estate of Andy Warhol and the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts have confirmed the authenticity of this work stamped and numbered PA15.048 on the back 18
(1928 - 1987)
Parrot , from the Toy series, 1983 Signed and dated ‘1983’ (on the overlap) Silkscreen ink and acrylic on canvas 25,4 x 20,3 cm - 10 x 8 in.
Galerie Bischofberger, Zurich Private Collection, Switzerland 20
(1931 - 2004)
Still life with fruit and goldfish, 1987 Signed, titled and dated ‘87’ and inscribed (on the reverse) Enamel on laser-cut steel 132,1 x 195,6 cm - 52 x 77 in.
Sidney Janis Gallery, New York Knoedler Gallery, New York Private collection, Palm Beach Irving Galleries, Palm Beach Acquired by the present owner from the above (1992)
Sidney Janis Gallery, Cut-Out Metal Paintings by Tom Wesselmann, New York, April - May 1987, ill. in colour 22
Hope, red-blue Polychrome aluminium, edition of 8 91,4 x 91,4 x 45,7 cm – 36 x 36 x 18 in. 24
(1928 - )
NIKI DE SAINT-PHALLE
(1930 - 2002)
La Machine à rêver, 1970 Fiberglass and polyester painted 280 x 346 x 120 cm – 110.2 x 136.2 x 47.2 in.
Alexander Iolas, Athens
Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Rétrospective 1954-80, 1981, ill. pp.1 and 69 Stockholm, Moderna Museet, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Rétrospective 1954-80, 1981, ill. pp. 68-69 Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Niki de Saint-Phalle : l’Invitation au Musée, 1993, ill. pp. 90-91 Angers, Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Angers, Niki de Saint-Phalle, Des assemblages aux oeuvres monumentales, 2004, ill. p. 80 Barcelone, Fundació Joan Miró, Woman, Metamorphosis of modernity, 2004-05 26
(1928 - 2005)
Starry Night, 1995 Signed ‘Arman’ (lower right) Acrylic with brush on canvas 95 x 135 cm – 37.4 x 53.1 in.
Mrs Denyse Durand-Ruel and the Official Arman Studio New York archives have confirmed the authenticity of this work under the reference No. APA 8027.95.004 28
(1960 - 1988)
Logo, 1984 Signed and titled (on the reverse) Acrylic and silkscreen 152 x 122 cm - 59.8 x 48 in.
Gagosian Gallery, New York Galerie Beaubourg, Paris Collection Marciano, USA Jose Mugrabi, New York Private collection, New York Private collection, Greenwich
Paris, Galerie Beaubourg, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Peintures 1982-87, 1988 New York, Whitney Museum of Art, Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1992-93, catalogue, p. 191, ill. Vienna, Kunsthaus, Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1999, catalogue, p. 72, ill.
Michel Enrici, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Paris, 1989, p. 109, ill. in colour Richard Marshall, Jean-Louis Prat, Jean-Michel Basquiat, vol. II, Paris, 1996, p. 122, No.7, ill. in colour Richard Marshall, Jean-Louis Prat, Jean-Michel Basquiat, vol. II, Paris, 2000, p. 191, No.7, ill. in colour 30
Comrade (Forget and remember series), 2002 Oil, pencil and ink on paper laid down on canvas 39 x 53 cm - 15.3 x 20.9 in. 32
(1958 - )
FENG ZHENG JIE
Untitled, 2006 Signed and dated ‘Feng Zheng Jie 2006’ (lower right corner) Oil on canvas 210 x 300 cm – 82.7 x 118.1 in. 34
(1962 - )
Hero here, 2004 Signed and dated ‘Yue Minjun 2004’ (lower right corner); signed, titled in Chinese and dated ‘2004’ (on the reverse) Oil on canvas 100,4 x 85,1 cm - 39.5 x 33.5 in.
Provenance Private Collection, Geneva
Literature The Hexiangning Art Museum exhibition catalogue, Reproduction Icons: Yue Minjun 2004-2006, 2006, ill. in colour p.33
Notes ‘I hope laughing characters will be seen everywhere, whether through mass communications or the interaction of our daily lives. If everybody would laugh from their hearts, then the world would be nicer for us.’ From History of Oil Painting: From Realism to Modernism (Schoeni Art Gallery Ltd.) 36
YAN PEI MING
Portrait, 1991 Oil on canvas 178 x 152 cm - 70 x 59.8 in. 38
(1960 - )
Red twin ‘Hich’, 2007 Fiberglass, edition of 25 105 x 75 cm – 41.3 x 29.5 in. 40
(1937 - )
Abstract Signed ‘Koorosh’ (lower left corner) Acrylic on canvas 160 x 130 cm – 63 x 51.2 in. 42
(1945 - )
Green head, 2008 Signed ‘Koorosh’ (lower left corner) Acrylic on canvas 170 x 120 cm – 66.9 x 47.2 in. 44
(1945 - )
Swimming school, 1997 Signed and dated (lower right corner) Acrylic and collage on paper laid down on canvas 56 x 42 cm – 22 x 16.5 in. 46
(1959 - )
(1965 - )
The hours spin skull, 2009 Resin, household gloss paint and clock dials, unique piece within a series of 210 differently painted skulls 18 x 14 x 20 cm – 7.1 x 5.5 x 7.9 in.
Private collection, France 48
(1965 - )
Untitled (Birthday card), 2001 Gloss household paint and butterflies on canvas, unique piece 214 x 214 cm – 84.2 x 84.2 in. 50
(1964 - )
Endless column (micro cosmos) Bronze, edition of 7 69 x 21 x 23 cm – 27.2 x 8.3 x 9.1 in. 52
(1964 - )
Iris (we share our chemistry with the star) Oil on canvas 200 x 200 cm – 78.7 x 78.7 in. 54
(1964 - )
Yellow chrome gold hallucination, 2008 Acrylic on gesso panel 41,5 x 31,5 cm – 16.3 x 12.4 in. 56
(1958 - )
Elly, gallery assistant 3, 2001 Vinyl on wooden stretcher, unique piece 192 x 142 cm – 75.6 x 55.9 in. 58
(1958 - )
Vera, dancer 4, 2007 Aluminium, vinyl and lights 195 x 204 x 21 cm – 76.8 x 80.3 x 8.3 in. 60
(1968 - )
Afro Lunar Lovers, 2003 Signed twice and dated ‘CHRIS OFILI Chris Ofili 2003’ (on the reverse) Gouache, charcoal and gold leaf on paper 31,5 x 24 cm – 12.4 x 9.4 in.
Victoria Miro Gallery, London Acquired from the above by the present owner 62
(1961 - )
The Joker, 2006 Aerosol on canvas 200 x 80 cm – 78.7 x 31.5 in. 64
Pre-Raphaelite woman Mixed media postcards on wood 152,4 x 152,4 cm – 60 x 60 in. 66
(1956 - )
(1956 - )
Marilyn head Coat hangers, edition of 4 50 x 65 x 80 cm – 19.7 x 25.6 x 31.5 in. 68
Little Angel Mixed media postcards on wood 152,4 x 152,4 cm – 60 x 60 in. 70
(1956 - )
Blo Void II, 2006 Mirror-polished steel and steel mesh tinted pink, edition The Gallery Mourmans 64 x 119 x 61 cm - 25.2 x 46.8 x 24 in.
Ron Arad No Discipline (catalogue of the exhibition), Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 2008, similar model ill. in colour p. 127
Rover chair, 1981 Seating, lacquered steel and leather, unique piece 99 x 67 x 89 cm - 39 x 26.4 x 35 in.
Collings Matthew, Ron Arad talks to Matthew Collings, Pahidon Press, London, 2004, drawing of the model in black and white p.40 Sudjic Deyan, Restless Furniture, Rizzoli Publishing, New York, 1989, similar model reproduced in black and white p. 31
The ‘Rover Chair’ is a seat from a Rover 2000 car mounted on a frame of Kee-Klamp scaffolding. This is among the first piece of furniture Ron Arad designed and captures the spirit of 80s in London using readymade objects. 74
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