ArtFul Living: St. Louis Area Fine Arts, Crafts & Performing Arts

Michelle “Mike” Ochonicky, Arts Editor

World Art

As Arts Editor here at The Healthy Planet, I get lots of info about ARTful exhibitions in our area. But I also get a lot of information about the arts in other places around the world.

I am out of the office as this issue goes to press. Actually, I’m far out of the office… in Italy! I’ll share some of my ARTful experiences with you in our next issue, but I thought you might enjoy a little ARTful journey, without having to pack a suitcase:

In Bilbao, Spain, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao presents an exhibition of works by Thomas Struth, a complete journey through five decades of one of the most influential European post-war photographers, whose evolution as an artist has been marked by social concerns. According to artist’s statement, “The images receive their signature character from the questions they raise about the relevance of public space, family ties, nature, culture, and the limits of new technologies.” Born in 1954 in Geldern, Germany, Struth addresses essential questions of the instability of social structures and the fragility of human existence through images whose formal elegance prompts the audience’s participation and empathy towards these topics.

Additionally, in collaboration with Atelier Soto in Paris, the Guggenheim Museum hosts a retrospective exhibition of sixty works by Jesus Rafael Soto. Born in Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela in 1923, Soto created large-scale participatory sculptures, called “Penetrables.” The exhibition, “The Fourth Dimension,” includes several of his historic paintings and murals, displaying the fundamental role Soto played in the development of Kinetic Art. Working from the early 1950s through the 1960s, Soto died in Paris in 2005. Learn about both Struth and Soto at www.guggenheim-bilbao.eus.

Meanwhile, in Malaga, Spain the Museo Picasso Malaga presents a joint exhibition, pairing works by Picasso with mobiles and sculptures by Alexander Calder. Both Picasso (1881-1976) and Calder (1881-1973) were undoubtedly powerful influences on 20th century art. Over 100 works show the connection that American Calder shared with Malaga’s own Picasso through the “exploration of the void, or the absence of space, which both artists defined from the figure through to abstraction.”

Interesting, St. Louis has a connection to the type of work Calder produced. In 1961, Buder Library was built on Hampton Avenue, a startling modern structure in the middle of a neighborhood of colonial revival houses and brick bungalows. To top it all off, the light-filled lobby housed a radically-modern, huge mobile entitled, “Pomegranate,” which looks remarkably like Alexander Calder’s work. According to a newspaper article from the library’s grand opening, the mobile was, in fact, made by Fred Dreher. Southsiders eventually got used to the modern art but, as Calder stepped into the annals of art history, locals often referred to the mobile as “the Calder.” Fast-forward to 1999 when the library moved farther down the street to a larger, newly renovated building. The mid-century building on Hampton and Eichelberger went up for sale. When the building sold, the new buyer required that the mobile remain. The Record Exchange still houses the mobile that looks remarkably like “a Calder” in its lobby. So, check the comparison for yourself; www.museopicassomalaga.org.

The Madein Gallery, in Shanghai, China, presents works by Ding Li and Lu Pingyuan for the first time at the prestigious Paris Internationale 2019. Both artists describe their works as “conceptual and humorous.” Ding Li’s oil portraits have a layered, fluid, almost fingerpainted-look that is refreshing. See more at www.madeingallery.com.

Hindman is recognized as one of the leading fine art auction houses in the U.S., headquartered in Chicago with offices throughout the country. Their auctions always present intriguing works. Recently, Hindman auctioned Parisian haute couture, including gowns owned by Dame Olivia de Havilland (at 103, I guess she’s clearing out her closet!). The green dress she wore in “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte” was estimated to sell at $2,000-$3,000. Its sale price was an amazing $8,125. Thirty-seven pieces garnered $85,000 and, while private collectors and museums purchased a few, most of the garments were purchased by Dior Heritage, the archive for the fashion house of Christian Dior in Paris. Timothy Long, Director and Senior Specialist in Couture, stated, “It is thrilling to know that the majority of the items are going back to their ‘birthplace’ at Dior in Paris.” It’s fun to peek at Hindman auctions, www.hindmanauctions.com.