Flash News: Peter Lindbergh – Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy – A work by Daniel Buren vandalised


Phographer Peter Lindbergh (1944 – 2019)

The German photographer Peter LINDBERGH – who died aged 74 on 3 September last – was among those – like Richard AVEDON and Helmut NEWTON – who made an impact on the history of images. A true master of his art, he forever changed the evolution of fashion photography and the artistic representation of women.

Lindbergh was one of the most influential photographers in the fashion world and worked with numerous fashion magazines (Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, The New Yorker, etc.). He also participated in the creation of dozens of commercials. The mythical Pirelli calendar employed his services on three occasions: 1996, 2002 and 2017. His unretouched black & white portraits in industrial landscapes or on beaches became the hallmark of a photographer who contributed to the emergence of the 90s super-model. His subjects included Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford and Claudia Schiffer. The picture of six young women in white shirts and underpants (“Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington, Estelle Lefébure, Karen Alexander, Rachel Williams” Vogue Us, Beach Los Angeles (1990),  was so spontaneous and unconventional for the fashion industry of that era that its sponsors shelved it. However, when Anna Wintour got hold of it the shot became one of the most iconic photos of our time. Relatively unmade-up with unsophisticated hairdos, the actresses and other celebrities he photographed often reflected free and natural women, far from the diktats of fashion.

Thirty years later, Lindbergh’s most iconic photographs enjoy substantial auction market demand. On 19 June, Christie’s Paris sold a copy of his Cindy Crawford, Tatjana Patitz, Helena Christensen, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Karen Mulder & Stephanie Seymour, for American Vogue, Brooklyn, New York for more than $210,000. It was Lindbergh’s second-best auction result behind the $238,800 hammered for his Christy Turlington, Los Angeles, American Vogue at Christie’s London in 2017.

His last photo shoot – entitled Forces for Change – staged 15 women defending 15 different causes. They include the young activist, Greta Thunberg, the young women’s rights activist, Salma Hayek and Jameela Jamil, an actress who advocates “body positivity”.

Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy

In the spring of this year, having just finished the exhibitions Essere at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and Stand at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Antony GORMLEY  set off to the Greek island of Delos – known for its archaeological treasures – to install Sight, a corpus of 29 pieces (until 31 October 2019). It is the first time the island has hosted works of Contemporary art.

Now, as the art market returns from its summer break, a major exhibition of Sir Antony Gormley’s work is about to open in the main galleries of the Royal Academy of Art (taking over from AI Weiwei and Anselm KIEFER) with a series of monumental works that test the scale and light of the RA’s architecture.

It’s the British artist’s biggest solo show in the UK for 10 years and it brings together (until 3 December) a wide range of works that highlight the diversity of techniques he has used. There will also be a number of rarely exhibited works from the 1970s and 1980s.

Born in 1950, Gormley received a solid education at Trinity College in Cambridge in archaeology, anthropology and art history. After traveling in Asia and discovering Buddhism in India, he returned to London in 1974 and began focusing his work on the relationship between the human body and space. This results of this focus are sometimes ‘closed’ (as in Lost Horizon I which fills a white room at the RA with 24 life-size cast-iron figures set at different orientations on the walls, floor and ceiling), or ‘open’, as with his most monumental work, Angel of the North, a 200-ton steel sculpture whose wings overhang the A1 and A167 motorways near Newcastle in the Northeast of England. Reduced or inspired versions of this latter work are also his biggest successes on the auction market: of the artist’s 10 best results, seven have rewarded derivatives of the Angel, including his absolute record at nearly $7 million for A Case for an Angel I (1989) at Christie’s in October 2017. A child of the 1960s sculpture revival, Gormley exploits the resources of the medium by taking as a subject his own body (he regularly makes molds of his body that he re-uses on different scales or directly exhibits the molds) or the bodies of others in order to evoke fundamental questions about man’s place in nature and the cosmos. He questions the relationship between indoor and outdoor space and between private and public space. For three months, the Royal Academy will be a sort of experimental area with the artist seeking to stimulate the senses, to provoke a variety of sensations such as emptiness/vertigo or fullness/oppression. Visitors will no doubt enjoy the superb play of light on the multiple surfaces of his sculptures and may even feel completely immersed in his work. For the winner of the 1994 Turner Prize (and knighted in 2003), “there is no subject until the observer is present and begins to get involved.


A work by Daniel Buren vandalised at the Pompidou Center

Last week, the Centre Pompidou in Paris filed a complaint for “malicious damage to cultural property in the public domain”. The damage was inflicted on a painting by the minimalist French artist Daniel BUREN by a man with a cutter who offered no explanation and was taken to a psychiatric unit after being held in police custody.

The work in question was created in May 1967 and acquired by the museum in 1986: Peinture. Manifestation 3 is a historical work that was exhibited in June 1967 during the third series of “Manifestations” (events) orchestrated by Daniel Buren, Olivier Mosset, Michel Parmentier and Niele Toroni, the four members of the BMPT group. The four avant-garde artists were determined to reject any expressive or lyrical content in their works. According to Yvan Demeulandre in his book Daniel Buren: Echo of Echoes (2012), during its first exhibition in 1967, “the painting was hung very high on the back wall of the theatre of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Paris along with Mosset’s centered circle, Parmentier’s horizontal bands and Toroni’s flat impressions of a No. 50 paintbrush arranged at 30 cm intervals. The public was invited to the “event” by posters bearing four I-D photos of the artists. A tract distributed after 75 minutes indicated no other info… inviting visitors to just “look at canvases”…

Painting. Manifestation 3 is a large canvas (252.3 x 252.3 cm) on a square frame alternating 8.7 cm wide vertical stripes of red and white. A smaller version (206 x 180 cm) from the same period (1966) (that is particularly sought after by collectors), refreshed the artist’s auction record last May, reaching $2.175 million against an estimate of $1 – 1.5 million at Christie’s in New York (Peinture aux formes indéfinies, 15 May 2019).

The French artist was also among the top 10 auction price ascensions of the year 2018/2019 with a 1968 canvas measuring less than two metres (163.6 x 142.69 cm) titled Peinture acrylique blanche sur tissu rayé blanc et rouge that multiplied its previous value by 102 times. Sold for $3,500 on 26 February 1997 at Libert-Castor in Paris, the canvas reached $357,400 on 8 March 2019 at Phillips in London, an increase of +10,111% in 22 years. In short, the value of Daniel Buren’s work has never been higher… and the museum will no doubt manage to restore the painting.