Are you rushing around, searching for a nice last-minute Christmas gift? Don’t worry. Here are some beautifully produced items that offer an intriguing conceptual marriage of marketing and culture.
To ward off holiday lethargy, we recommend Find-A-Text, a book and art project conceived by artist Charles Gute and produced by New York gallerist Jason Rulnick. The project consists of a 96-page paperback publication - a $4.95 retail book that emulates the look and feel of mass-market word-search puzzle books, the only difference being that everything here is art related. Each page has its own theme, from “So You Want to Be an Artist” with prestigious art schools around the world, to “Life after Death” featuring artists like John Latham, Steven Parrino and Francesca Woodman. The book also functions as a catalogue raisonné of a series of canvas wall works recently presented by the artist at Rulnick’s gallery space. The project resonates ironically with the undeniable “who's who” nature of the art field and all its wondrous players. Find out where to buy a copy at http://find-a-text.com
If instead you desire a new year under the sign of art, you’ll want to purchase the wonderful art calendar produced by New York-based curator Rita de Alencar Pinto. Pinto, who has a background as a marketing strategist, got the idea last summer in the beautiful surroundings of Trulli in Southern Italy’s Puglia, the home region of Italian dealer Pasquale Leccese. Leccese encouraged Pinto to do the calendar (beautifully designed by Richard Bloom Studio), and the cover features a work from the dealer’s collection: Boetti's seminal piece Contatore (1972-73). Each month presents the artwork of a rising or established art star such as Louise Lawler, Wangechi Mutu, Rosemarie Trockel, Eve Sussman, Jota Castro, Nico Vascellari, Sigalit Landau and Bjorn Copeland, among others. This simple but culturally intriguing project is supported by Leccese’s Milan gallery Le Case D’Arte, The Italian Cultural Institute NY, Sima Familant and Roebling Hall Gallery; proceeds benefit Artis and The African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF). The calendars (2 for $50, 5 for $100) are available to the public at The New Museum, Printed Matter and the $999 Holiday Bazaar @ Honey Space.
The 6th Fair of Cheap Art is an initiative of Warsaw gallery Raster, the second-generation Polish art goldmine. After a three-year break, the gallery owners — curator/critics Lukasz Gorczyca and Michal Kaczynski — decided to again provide an opportunity to buy low-priced art, presenting on December 20th editions by Agata Bogacka, Michal Budny, Rafal Bujnowski, Slawomir Elsner, Nicolas Grospierre, Przemek Matecki, Zbigniew Rogalski, Aneta Grzeszykowska & Jan Smaga, Karol Radziszewski and many others. As a flamboyant response to the current state of the art market, the project statement says, “For professional and beginning collectors, unaffluent aficionados, thrifty investors and those who vainly seek smart Christmas presents. Relentless art, radical prices!”
Raster is not the only gallery to smartly address the current financial aftermath: on December 18th, Milan gallery Conduits — a project by Flash Art U.K. Editor Gea Politi — hosted the first "Xmas Art Market." Cultivating her long-time engagement with art, Gea presented a series of works created especially for Christmas by Aaron Bondaroff + Aaron Young, Olaf Breuning, Hackermann Ines Virginia, Olimpia Scarry, Matthew Stone and many others. In order to make everything even more attractive, the night was enriched by a display of works by Katharina Fritsch, Gianni Motti, Francesco Vezzoli, Richard Prince, Cy Twombly, Club 2000, Jake & Dinos Chapman, Eric Doeringer, Cindy Sherman, Rudolf Stingel, Dorothy Iannone and Wim Wenders, all from the collection of the Flash Art Museum, which just moved from its original venue in Trevi to the magazine’s hometown Milan.
Even an institution like the Public Art Fund is riding the cultural-marketing reindeer. Conceived as a limited edition holiday gift is Pond Planters by artist Paula Hayes. Each is uniquely hand-crafted, sculpted out of rubber and hand-colored with bright oil pastels; the series of flower pots are meant to be filled with Jewel Orchids as well as a variety of succulents. These functional artworks, created especially for the Public Art Fund and solely available for purchase through the art organization, are available in 3 sizes: small (5 x 5 x 6.5 in. / edition of 49 for $450), medium (7 x 7.5 x 8.5 in. / edition of 14 for $800) and large (8 x 10 x 12 in. / edition of 12 for $1,000). Shipping is extra — if you want to purchase one of the three versions — or the entire set of 3 for $2,000 —just email Ciara Besson at email@example.com or dial 212-980-4575.
Continuing its amazing production of conceptual knickknacks, Art Production Fund presents a series of four new “super-sexy 60 x 70 inches 100% cotton beach/bath towels” conceived by the organization in cooperation with Target. After Jeff Koons, Elizabeth Peyton, Kehinde Wiley, Alex Katz and Cindy Sherman, the new quartet of artists invited are Julian Schnabel, Raymond Pettibon, Karen Kilimnik and Ed Ruscha. The towels (price $50) can be purchased through WOW/Work on Whatever (www.worksonwhatever.com), an affiliation of Art Production Fund that produces unique everyday items designed by artists — introducing contemporary art to a larger community with revenues from sales supporting their non-profit mission.
Flash Art highly recommends the ecological Christmas tree commissioned by WOW from Markus Linnenbrink, Fred Tomaselli or Phoebe Washburn as a continuation of Merry Merry Tree, the eponymous project by Marilyn Minter (price for each: $100.00).
The last artful gift that deserves recognition (although it is already sold out!) is Ann Craven’s Deer Box, produced by skincare brand RéVive. This fancy box depicting a lush scene reflecting Craven's oil-on-canvas painting Deer in Emerald Field (2007) contains a series of A-quality skin products and creams that are clearly presented as a healthy alternative to plastic surgery. The set includes Moisturizing Renewal Cream, Sensitif Cellular Repair Cream, Serum Protectif and Eye Renewal Cream. When these products are finished, the artist — who celebrates the end of a wonderful year with a splendid book designed by Continuous Project’s Joseph Logan and published by jpr | Ringier — suggests that users keep the Deer Box as a container for jewels, candies and so on. For a more art commodity-oriented usage of this project, Ann Craven will produce a series of prints for the empty box. This special post-addition of 50 Deer Boxes with 50 prints inside will be created by the artist in the year 2009.
For a wonderful Christmas-in-Art, Flash Art International wishes all our readers a great holiday and a wonderful, stellar 2009!
NICOLA TREZZI firstname.lastname@example.org
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