o’k

Back from my lunch-yoga class feeling refreshed and ”recharged” (yogi teacher’s words but it’s a concerted effort), ready to start the weekend.

And, since a good beginning makes a better ending, how about joining me in high spirits and reminisce the news I woke up to this morning – when I read that Georgia O’Keeffe’s iconic flower painting Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 exceeded every expectation and set a new auction record for a female artist.

I’ll be the last to qualify art by its market value but, alas, it’s a material world we live in and if this record places Ms O’Keeffe officially in the upper echelon of 20th century artists – which is exactly where she belongs – that’s O’K by me!

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Georgia O’Keeffe, 1887 – 1986. Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 (1932), oil on canvas 48” x 40”

SOLD:  44,405,000 USD

Other works by Georgia O’Keeffe sold in yesterday’s auction, all exceeding their estimates:

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Georgia O’Keeffe, 1887 – 1986. Untitled (Skunk Cabbage) (ca. 1927) oil on board, 12” x 16”

Estimate: 500,000750,000 USD
SOLD: 941,000 USD

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Georgia O’Keeffe (1887 – 1986). On the Old Santa Fe Road (1930-31) oil on canvas, 16” x 30”

Estimate: 2,000,0003,000,000 USD

SOLD: 5,093,000 USD (the second highest price of the day)

All paintings were sold by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, to benefit its acquisitions fund. Robert A. Kret, Director of Georgia O’Keeffe Museum: “We are excited about the record-breaking results of the Georgia O’Keeffe artworks. It is wonderful to see Georgia O’Keeffe’s iconic artworks receive the recognition and valuation they deserve. This sale will provide funding to strengthen and refine our collection, allowing us to represent the full breadth of Georgia O’Keeffe’s artistic accomplishments.”

 

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969)

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Travelling through time with the poetic documentary ”From Scotland with Love” reminded me of another film, the classic ”Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”, directed by Ronald Neame. It took me 45 years to watch it  - at  what would be approximately 15 years beyond my prime – but one of the qualities of this film is that it’s ageless.   

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Miss Jean Brodie is a headstrong woman and an unusual teacher at Marcia Blaine School for Girls, in Edinburgh. A teacher of history and literature with a flair for extra curricular education – that of life – a charismatic figure against the backdrop of a private, conservative school in the 1930s; Miss Brodie recurrently finds herself in trouble with the headmistress who deplores her methods and harasses her into resigning.

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Jean Brodie, a young woman ”in her prime”,  finds herself caught up in a love triangle between her ex-lover, Mr Lloyd (the arts master) and her current affection, Mr Lowther (the music master) – but she refuses to commit into a formal relationship with either because, as she keeps repeating:

”I’m a teacher. I’m a teacher. First, last and always.”

Miss Brodie is totally dedicated to her pupils – but not all of them. She clearly has favourites and does not hesitate to introduce them a such: Jenny, Sandy, Monica and Mary McGregor are the chosen four, they are the crème de la crème.

Maggie Smith, who was 35 at the time, gave a majestic, multi-award winning performance. I am not sure exactly what would be defined as ”prime” in the 1930s, neither is the actual age of her character ever mentioned, but watching her move between perfect composure, romantic grievance, passionate admiration and flushed excitement so effortlessly, it was an utterly enjoyable and convincing performance – Miss Smith was definitely in her ”prime”.

She is supported by an excellent cast: Robert Stephens as Teddy Lloyd, the arts master, her ex-lover, married, six children, second-rate artist, still infatuated with Miss Brodie. Gordon Jackson as Gordon Lowther, the music master, devoted to Catholicism and to Miss Brodie, in equal measure. Celia Johnson as Miss Mackay, the headmistress, would love to see the back of Miss Brodie, sooner rather than later.

And the crème de la crème performances by the girls: Jenny (Diane Grayson), Sandy (Pamela Franklin), Monica (Shirley Steedman) and Mary McGregor (Jane Carr).

Watch Miss Brodie addressing her class in her flawless, elegant, graceful and ritualistic manner:

”Little girls, I’m in the business of putting old heads on young shoulders.
All my pupils are the crème de la crème.
Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life.
I’m dedicated to you in my prime. And my summer in Italy has convinced me that I am truly in my prime.”

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”Define status quo: Staying the same to the point of petrification. P-E-T-R-I-F-I-C-A-T-I-O-N.
I do not intend to devote my prime to petrification.”

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”One’s prime is the moment one is born for.”

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- Duck liver, Miss Brodie?
- Pâté de Foie Gras, Jenny. The French have a genius for food but I doubt French women will ever get the vote…! 

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”She always looks so extreme…”

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- Do any of you girls remember what the followers of Mussolini are called?
- Fascisti.
- That is correct. F-A-S-C-I-S-T-I. And Mussolini is called: Il Duce. That is to say, the leader.

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”To me, education is a leading out. The word education comes from the root ”ex” meaning ”out” and ”duco” : ”I lead”. To me education is simply a leading out of what is already there.”

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”You girls, are my life now. I am the potter and you are my pride. You are shaping up. Soon you will graduate to the senior school and I will no longer teach you but you will always be Brodie girls.”

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”Generalissimo Franco is called El Jefe, the Chief.
J-E-F-E. The ”J” is silent. El Jefe.
He is a dedicated man. He has dedicated himself to a cause as I dedicated myself to you.

Franco’s army comprises the best elements of Spain and her supporters. They are committed to heroic action.”

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 ”I am not interested in human imperfection. I am interested in Beauty, in Art, in Truth.”

Watch in wonderment at the harsh reality that a learned, gifted, liberal teacher can romanticize over the power of the uniform.

Here, Miss Brodie is showing slides from her trip to Italy. Mussolini precedes Leonardo da Vinci’s David  by a slide, Miss Brodie’s voice pulsating with emotion.

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Rebellion, desperation or a bit of both: a Brodie girl in Teddy Lloyd’s studio (and bed). Youth vs Prime.

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Finally, watch in amazement at the colourful, figure hugging garderobe of Miss Brodie (costume design by Joan Bridge and Elizabeth Haffenden) making Maggie Smith’s already remarkable physique, standing out even more (if ever possible…)

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”Deep in most of us is a potential for greatness, or the potential to inspire greatness.”
Miss Jean Brodie

Viewed on 21/07/2014, National Day of Belgium.

From Scotland with Love (2014)

This poetic documentary, directed by Virginia Heath, made entirely of archive film footage from the National Library of Scotland and Scottish Screen Archive, was a joy to watch.

A journey into 20th century Scotland, a sequence of stunning images of ordinary folk going about their business, experiencing love and loss, work and play, resistance and immigration in their characteristically proud, dignified and resolute way; a folk that is equally determined, hard-working and whimsical.

Completely non-narrative, with only the original, lyrical soundtrack by King Creosote giving voice to the characters.

A few sequences through this 75-minute journey of pure nostalgia, I was completely captivated – visually and emotionally.

A journey so moving it brought a lump to my throat – and I have never even been to Scotland.

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The film was commissioned as part of the Cultural Festival accompanying the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. It was screened with live musical accompaniment on Glasgow Green on 31 July 2014.

You can read more about ”From Scotland with Love” here.

Brussels Sprouts by Rodrigo Bueno | CAB | Out of Character

Over the course of 2013, eight Belgian and French collectors were invited by CAB Art Center to each individually support a project led by an artist of their choice who is not represented by a gallery in Belgium. Each collector thus gave an emerging artist the opportunity to produce a project which they would otherwise have been unable to work on through lack of space or means. The result is an array of eight ambitious and impressive creations, each generously financed by a collector.

The creations went on display in CAB, an art centre dedicated to the promotion of contemporary art that opened its doors in 2012, in a converted 1930s Art Deco ex-warehouse off Place Flagey, one of Brussels’ main cultural and social hubs.

A very interesting concept with fresh, site-specific work; I was particularly drawn to a project by Brasilian artist Rodrigo Bueno who lives and works out of his Ateliê Mata Adentro, in Sao Paolo. Mata Adentro translates as ”Into the Forest” or ”Jungle Inside”. Bueno works only with natural materials collected and rescued from waste, mainly wood and plants. His art revolves around the ”Anthropology – Anthroposophy – Ecosophy” triangle, a study on ecological harmony, equilibrium and sustainability.

His installation in CAB was sponsored by Sandra Hegedus Mulliez, an artist and collector also born in Sao Paulo but living in France since 1990. It consisted entirely of materials reclaimed from Brussels and was created literally in situ. Aptly titled ”Brussels Sprouts”, it epitomized the essence of symbiotic relationships between collector and artist, creator and patron, urban and natural ecosystem.

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Bueno’s installations were ”planted”  around the exhibition space – they all looked like they were growing organically from the concrete, creating a strangely warm antithesis with the stark white interior.

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”Brussels Sprouts” was part of  the ”Out of Character” group exhibition, shown in April-June 2014.

CAB Art Center
32-32 Rue Borrens
Brussels

26 April 2014

Photos by Konstantinos Implikian

One day the sadness will end.

April found the contemporary art scene sizzling with creative energy. The Art Brussels 2014 masterminds were putting the final touches to a year-long preparation, getting ready to welcome 190 contemporary art galleries from all over the world, themselves representing some 2000 artists.

A three-day affair. An art fair so massive, it’s overwhelming; a few steps in and confidence gives way to confusion, excitement turns to daze, awareness switches into autopilot.

And what is it about contemporary art that feels like you’ve walked into one dark, scary Halloween phantasmagoria?

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Art Brussels
24-26 April 2014

Photos by Konstantinos Implikian