This sculpture is part of Jeff Koons’s ‘Made in Heaven’ series, which shows the artist in intimate or erotic situations with his wife of the time, Ilona Staller, known as Cicciolina. In the stylised nobility of its poses and the perfection of its lustrous, sensual surface, Bourgeois Bust borrows from the canons of neoclassical sculpture ranging from Canova – Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss (1793) – Gérome and Clésinger.
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Here Paolini returns to one of sculpture’s most celebrated motifs, the Medici Venus. Itself a copy of a Greek bronze, the Medici Venus has inspired artists ranging from Coysevox to Pistoletto. The mute dialogue taking place between these two works in plaster calls into question the concepts of singularity and duality, original and copy, before and after.
These three candle-sculptures by Urs Fischer (Swiss, born 1973) comprise a life-size replica of Giambologna’s Rape of the Sabine Women (c. 1579), a portrait of Fischer’s artist friend Rudolf Stingel and a representation of an ordinary office chair. In the course of the exhibition they all gradually melt, in a metamorphosis leading from the figurative to the abstract, from a deliberately chosen form to a shape due entirely to chance. This work points to art as something as mutable and impermanent as everything else.
Giambologna’s The Rape of the Sabine Women サビニの女たちの略奪
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“Untitled (Dancing Nazis)” is a combination of two earlier pieces by Piotr Uklanski (Polish, b. 1967): firstly a sound and light installation referencing the club in Saturday Night Fever and the Minimalist works of Carl Andre and Dan Flavin; and photographs of actors who have played Nazi roles in the movies. This new work sets out to blur the boundaries between art and entertainment, good and bad taste, history and fiction.
This polyptych by Takashi Murakami (Japanese, b. 1962) is deeply marked by the history of Far Eastern art. Among the sources openly acknowledged by the artist are a big cat crouched on an arch made of skulls, inspired by Sakaki Hyakusen (1697-1752), and a tornado and a gigantic wave harking back to Soga Shohaku (1730-1781), Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) and Kano Sansetsu (1590-1651). Murakami makes no secret of his allegiance to this ‘Lineage of Eccentrics’: so important are they to him that he personally published an English-language version of the book bearing this title.
This work by Louise Lawler (American, b.1947) appropriates Degas’s sculpture Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, which created a furore when it was shown at the sixth Impressionist Exhibition in 1881. The changes effected include photography, cropping, decontextualisation, multiplication and colourisation.
Here Paul Fryer (British, b. 1963) transposes Sir John Everett Millais’s iconic Pre-Raphaelite Ophelia (1851) from painting to sculpture, from the two-dimensional to the three-dimensional, from the dignified world of the great museums to the more trivial, ambiguous one of the wax museum, with its mixed bag of anatomical exactitude and popular entertainment.
The title of this work, such as The Evangelist, explicitly references Christian imaginary and, more specifically, the representation of the four Evangelists. The Evangelists are canonically associated with the ox, the lion, the eagle and the man, but despite the title Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, only the ox appears: the attribute of Luke, traditionally the patron saint of painters and artists.
A number of works by Damian Hirtst (British, b. 1965) make specific reference to Francis Bacon, English painting’s major 20th-century figure. Here Hirst borrows highly characteristic aspects of the Bacon style in order to address personal issues, either aesthetic (questions of painting and the artist’s touch) or existential (the death of his artist friend Angus Fairhurst).
This work by Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese, b. 1948) is a photo of a wax version of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper from a museum in Japan. in this translation from painting through sculpture to photography, we are offered the ghost of a ghost of an image – or one of that image’s avatars.
Gelijkenis (‘Likeness’) by Marlene Dumas (South African, b. 1953) brings together two images with very similar formal structures: Holbein’s The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb and a photograph of Michael Jackson in the oxygen chamber supposed to slow his ageing (1986). The work sets up a dialogue between registers: the sacred and the profane, the spiritual and the trivial, art and the gutter press.
Dio by Adel Abdessemed (French, b. 1971) returns to the visual tradition of the via crucis, the Way of the Cross. The significance of art history is underscored here by the choice of the location: the Villa Medici in Rome. Dio also references the history of the cinema and in particular the Pier Paolo Pasolini of The Gospel According to St Matthew and La Ricotta.
When he decided to paint – literally – the Gabriel Gaveau grand piano, Bertrand Lavier (French, b. 1949) opted for ironic appropriation of a totally unmistakable manner and brushwork: the ‘Van Gogh touch’, which in the course of the 20th century became the clichéd yardstick for artistic quality and expressive sensitivity. Through a gap in the exhibition wall we get a glimpse of the same artist’s 308 GTS, acquired by the New National Museum of Monaco 2009, in the garage of Villa Sauber, on the other side of Avenue Princess Grace.
These two works by Rudolf Stingel (American, b. Italy 1956) involve the same process: they are painted from an enlargement of an old or damaged photograph, with the artist meticulously reproducing both the motif – a sculpture, a landscape or, in this case, a portrait – and such fortuitous elements as rips and paint spatters. Suffused with melancholy and the inexorable passing of time, they show the Expressionist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) and the artist Franz West, a longtime friend of Stingel’s who died in 2012.
Javier Téllez “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc (Roselle Hospital, Sydney)” 2004
Video installation, double projection and red velvet curtains. Twelve and a Marionette
Super 16 mm movie transferred on video, colour, sound, 40’55’’ La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc
16 mm movie transferred on video, black and white, silent, 97’02’’
La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc – trailer
This work by Javier Téllez (Venezuelan, b. 1969) emerged from a workshop in which the artist asked women patients in a Sydney psychiatric hospital to rewrite the inter titles for Carl Theodor Dreyer’s masterpiece “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc” 1928. In this installation the revisited version is shown opposite a film in which each participant in the project recites – or sings – her personal narrative of confinement, repression and exclusion.
Based on the rechanneling and appropriation of existing images from art history or American popular culture, the oeuvre of Richard Prince (American, b. 1949) seeks to subvert the concepts of artistic paternity, authority and property. Here, in a homage to the great American painter he avowedly venerated, Prince draws directly onto the pages of a book about the Women of Willem de Kooning (1904-1997), triggering an ambiguous dialogue between the original images and his own handiwork.
“You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talkin’ to? You talkin’ to me? Well I’m the only one here. Who the fuck do you think you’re talking to?”
Since the early 1980’s Sherrie Levine (American, b. 1947) has produced several series of rephotographed iconic images by such greats as Edward Weston, Walker Evans and, in 2012, August Sander. Titled ‘After’, these series – remakes seemingly identical in every way to the originals – are critical incursions into the concept of the readymade, the modernist myth of originality and feminist appropriation of a long-patriarchal history.
This cycle of paintings by Jonathan Monk (British, b. 1969) references German artist martin Kippenberger (1953-1997). In 1981 Kippenberger had a sign painter produce a series of pictures on different (and sometimes absurd) themes. Titled ‘Dear Painter, Paint for Me’ and signed by Kippenberger, this attack on concepts like style, authorship and originality is now considered a seminal work. In 2011 Jonathan Monk commissioned online a reproduction of Kippenberger’s series from a Chinese company specialising in the copying of pictures. In addition to its use of mockery and irony, Monk’s remake raises once more the question of authorship and uniqueness in art, at a time when the circulation of images has gone global.
Between 1965 and her recent death on 7 May 2014, the American artist Sturtevant devoted herself to producing from memory replicas of groundbreaking works of modernism and contemporary art. Neither homages nor pastiches, her pictures embody a subtly radical take not only on issues of uniqueness and reproduction, but also on the image-based fabrication of art history in mass culture. In an ultimate allusion the two works on show featured in earlier Grimaldi Forum exhibitions: Flowers from the ‘Superwarhol’ exhibition in 2003 and a work by Felix Gonzalez-Torres from the ‘New York New York’ show of 2006.