Alberto Giacometti
at Phillips

London, 17 October 2020
Alberto Giacometti, Femme debout, (1961). Bronze. 44.5 x 7.8 x 11.1 cm. Courtesy Phillips.

Alberto Giacometti's exquisite Femme debout sculpture was included in the 20th Century & Contemporary Art Sale on 20 October 2020 at Phillips.

Giacometti's incredible ability to work the female form through his obsessive technique of whittling the figure down to a delicate yet domineering presence is conveyed perfectly in this sculpture.

Giacometti had a deep fascination with the human gaze and its ability to discern the life of the individual. 'If I can hold the look in the eyes, everything else follows', Giacometti once said. The artist would expect his sitters—often his wife Annette Arm—to maintain a presence as attentive as the artist himself.

Detailed, smooth and dominating, the head is in stark contrast to the rigid ultra-thin vertical body that falls beneath. The fragile proportions yet soulful presence of the figure reinforces the awe we experience when faced with this masterpiece. Commenting on his innate ability to create such contradiction, Jean-Paul Sartre noted that Giacometti's depictions on humanity were 'always mediating between nothingness and being'.


More in Advisory Picks

Rachel Jones
at Thaddaeus Ropac

London, 16 October 2020
Rachel Jones, A Slow Teething (2020). Oil pastel, oil stick on paper. 160 x 250 cm. © the artist. Courtesy Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London-Paris-Salzburg. Photo: Eva Herzog.

This painting by Rachel Jones was shown at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London, as part of their group exhibition, A Focus on Painting (12 September–21 October 2020).

Rachel Jones recently completed her MA at the Royal Academy Schools and lives in London. Painted on unstretched canvas or paper pinned to the wall, she constructs powerfully visceral images bursting with colour.

Abstract forms slowly reveal an interior landscape of teeth and gums; the depths of Jones's internal body are unearthed, becoming an expression of her own inner life. This gloriously imaginative and ambient interpretation of her self invites us to reconsider how society views the Black body in other forms of imagery or media. Although Jones's innate talent as a colourist envelopes us with such sensorial power, it's this energy that has the most telling affect on us.

Kai Althoff
at Whitechapel Gallery

London, 16 October 2020
Photo: Ocula Advisory.

'Beauty in your work takes many forms, and includes your febrile drawing, so sensitive, so ornate; and your effulgent colours, which to me evoke Renaissance tapestries. Your subjects, at times, describe the essence of perfect companionship, which by definition is beautiful in its equanimity and balance.'

Laura Hoptman quoted from her conversation with Kai Althoff in the catalogue that accompanied the artist's solo exhibition at MoMA in 2016.

The elusive artist's exhibition with Bernard Leach recently opened at Whitechapel Gallery in London.

Jill Mulleady
at Gladstone Gallery

Brussels, 10 October 2020
Jill Mulleady, Gardens of the Blind (2020). Oil on linen. 168 x 200 cm. © Jill Mulleady. Courtesy the artist and Gladstone Gallery, New York and Brussels.

Gladstone Gallery opened their first solo show by Jill Mulleady at their Brussels space recently.

Uruguayan-born Mulleady lives and works in Los Angeles. Her work was included in last year's Venice Biennale group exhibition, and she will be in the Hammer Museum's Made in L.A. 2020 later this year.

Mulleady's figurative paintings oscillate between complex narratives—broad in scope—and micro-cosmic details that harness metaphorical potency. Her world is imagined and fantastical.

Narrative elements are gleaned from literature and art history, but these are interwoven with contemporary references, resulting in slippery, time-bending ensembles.

Frieze OVR Highlights:
Vaughn Spann

London, 10 October 2020
Vaughn Spann, Laurel Canyon (Saguaro) (2020). Mixed media, silk, polymer paint, canvas on stretcher bars. 156.8 x 126 x 11.1 cm. © Vaughn Spann. Courtesy Almine Rech.

Almine Rech exhibited this Vaughn Spann work in Frieze Art Fair's 2020 online viewing rooms.

Since graduating with an MFA from the Yale School of Art in 2018, Spann has already been included in more than three dozen group shows across the U.S., and there is a lot of heat around his work after recent strong secondary market auction results.

Avoiding the temptation to settle on one signature style, Spann has remained committed to making surreal figurative scenes and abstractions, as well as works that float between the two.

'I don't want to choose one conversation,' the artist has explained. 'I want to be rebellious and think through lots of ideas. I learn through the chaos.'

Frieze OVR Highlights:
Alex Da Corte

London, 07 October 2020
Alex Da Corte, Cavatica's Moon Song (2020). Neon, vinyl siding, laminate, plywood, house paint, velvet, hardware. 182.9 x 182.9 x 11.4 cm. © Alex Da Corte. Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London.

Sadie Coles HQ showed this Alex Da Corte sculpture for Frieze Art Fair's 2020 online viewing rooms.

Informed by Pop Art and Surrealism, Alex Da Corte creates exploratory and fantastical works. Frequently combining video and film, his hypnotic installations often fall in the category of Gesamtkunstwerk or 'total work of art', where different art forms are combined to create a single cohesive work.

Da Corte combines high and low brow American cultural references to explore the psychological complexities, desires and illusions so prevalent in capitalist culture. Cavatica's Moon Song represents a continuation of the artists use of window imagery in his work.

The shape of the hand carved out by spider webs in the open window can be seen as both beckoning and ominous, suggesting the sinister potential of the home.

Frieze OVR Highlights:
Prafulla Mohanti

London, 07 October 2020
Profulla Mohanti, Padma (1979). Mixed media on canvas. 140 x 99 cm. © Prafulla Mohant. Courtesy Jhaveri Contemporary.

We picked out this wonderful work showing with Jhaveri Contemporary for Frieze Art Fair's 2020 online viewing rooms.

Led by Zoe Whitley (Director of Chisendale Gallery), Prafulla Mohanti features in Possessions: Spirituality and the Art of our Time, Frieze's new curated section focusing on the theme of spirituality in contemporary art.

After graduating as an architect in Bombay, Mohanti moved to the U.K. in 1960 working as an architect-town planner in London. Now devoting himself to painting and writing, Mohanti's mixed media works—inspired by Indian traditional theories of cosmogony—feature concentric circles in vivid colours.

Born and having grown up in Nanpur, a village located in the east of Odisha, India, Mohanti's paintings are simultaneously rooted in his village culture, particularly yoga and tantra.

Reflecting on old village life and his move to the U.K., Mohanti notes 'Actually, I have never left the village, either physically or emotionally or spiritually because for me the two worlds are not really separate, they are one. Wherever I go, I carry my village inside of me'.

Frieze OVR Highlights:
Philip Guston

London, 07 October 2020
Philip Guston, Paw II (1975). Oil on canvas. 170.2 x 203.2 cm. © The Estate of Philip Guston. Courtesy the Estate and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Genevieve Hanson.

Hauser & Wirth included this Philip Guston painting in their Frieze Art Fair 2020 online viewing room.

Tate and several other American museums recently announced their postponement of a major touring Guston retrospective due to the sensitivity of his material during this time of political and social unrest, particularly in America.

From within the art world, there has been widespread criticism of the decision, given the overtly thoughtful nature of Guston's work that critiques many facets of Western society. There have been numerous comparisons of the present political context to that of the 1970s in the U.S. and despair at the lack of progress made.

This painting was made five years after Guston dramatically eschewed his abstract style for a more crude figurative approach. Thick brushstrokes are applied in fleshy tones, imbuing the image with a menacing grotesqueness.

Guston often focused on specific domestic or studio objects, transforming them into harrowing metaphors for broader existential doubts he felt so acutely. At times surreal and lugubrious; Guston uses visceral texture as a vehicle for ridiculing our modes of living, whilst profoundly expressing his own impending confrontation with mortality.

Frieze OVR Highlights:
David Hammons

London, 07 October 2020
David Hammons, Untitled (Body Print) (1974). Pigment on paper. 93.7 x 78.7 x 4.1 cm. Courtesy David Hammons. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Jeff McLane.

Hauser & Wirth showed this historic David Hammons Body Print work in their online viewing room for Frieze Art Fair 2020.

Born in Illinois in 1943, David Hammons' diverse oeuvre, spanning the past 60 years, encompasses conceptual, performance, and installation art.

Untitled (Body Print) is part of Hammons' earliest and most renowned Body Print series. Coating bodies—usually his own—with grease or margarine, Hammons would press these body parts against a sheet of paper. Black pigment would subsequently be dusted onto the work leaving behind a figure detailed with skin, hair, and clothing.

On the process, Hammons notes, 'I have to carefully decide how to get up after I have made the impression that I want. Sometimes I lie there for perhaps three minutes or even longer just figuring out how I can get off the paper without smudging the image that I'm trying to print'.

Recording his presence in his works, and bringing visibility to the narratives and experiences of racism, Hammons reckons with the absence of Black representation in 1970s America, which he has endeavoured to confront and rectify through his work.

Frieze OVR Highlights:
Paula Rego

London, 07 October 2020
Paula Rego, Dame with Goat's Foot 1, (Undressing the Divine Lady) (2011–2012). Pastel on paper. 137 x 102 cm. © Paula Rego. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice.

Paula Rego is now represented by Victoria Miro Gallery and this is one of three pastel on paper works from their Frieze Art Fair 2020 online viewing room.

Rego is rightly considered the grand dame of figurative painting in her native Portugal, as well as the U.K., where she has lived for much of her life after studying at the Slade School of Fine Art in the 1950s.

Rego exhibited with The London Group in the 1960s, alongside David Hockney and Frank Auerbach but it was in the 1980s that she received more notable institutional support with solo exhibitions at the Gulbenkian Foundation and the Serpentine Gallery. Later, Rego was to become the subject of comprehensive survey shows at Tate Britain and the Reina Sofia.

Typically for Rego, this work incorporates fantasy or folklore into an intimate domestic scene depicted through a distinctly feminist lens.

She has described her method of using pastels as 'like painting with your fingers'. Soft, smooth tones combine with her confidently drawn line to define the form and expression of her figures.

Her hand has become looser and more economical with large parts of paper left untouched, although her figures enchant us with their melancholic gaze and the psychological complexity of their relationship. Rego's male figure seems angry and vulnerable, whilst he clings onto the 'divine lady', who confidently looks out towards us whilst propped up above him leaning on her guitar.

Numerous foreboding narratives threaten the scene, but Rego never forces them on the view, allowing us space for our own reflection.

Frieze OVR Highlights:
Alina Szapcoznikow

London, 06 October 2020
Alina Szapcoznikow, Lamp Double Mouth on Phallus (1967). Sculpture, design, coloured polyester, lightbulb and electrical wiring. 55 x 49 x 38 cm. © Alina Szapocznikow. Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Courtesy of Richard Saltoun Gallery, London.

This gem of a sculpture shown at Frieze Art Fair 2020 with Richard Saltoun online.

Imprisoned for over ten months in concentration camps during the Second World War as a Polish Jew, Szapocnikow's work functions as a record of both her memory as well as a commentary on the female form. Best known for her resin casts of body parts, her sculptures explore a black humour rooted in the fragility and sexualisation of the female body.

The death of Stalin in 1953 saw the Polish government loosening control over creative freedom and prompted Szapocznikow's move to figurative abstraction.

Lamp Double Mouth on Phallus (1967) is part of her sculptures produced in the 1960s that employ bright polyester resins and the forms of lips and breasts. With light bulbs concealed within, these works take the form of functional desk lamps, adding to the artist's commentary on consumer culture and modular reproduction.

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