TIME Fine Art

This Dirty Bed Just Sold for $3.77 Million

Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' To Be Auctioned At Christie's
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece My Bed on display at Christie's in London on June 27, 2014 Rob Stothard—Getty Images

For the price one buyer paid for Tracey Emin’s ‘My Bed’, you could buy 2,500 TempurPedics

When Tracey Emin got dumped, she didn’t get out of bed for four days, depressed. Then she took her dirty bed and turned it into a famous work of art.

‘My Bed’ was sold at a Christie’s auction in London on Tuesday for around $3.77 million, a huge spike since it sold to world-class art collector Charles Saatchi in 2000 for about $200,000.

The work consists of dirty sheets, underpants stained by menses, used condoms, empty liquor bottles, and pregnancy tests. It was shortlisted for the coveted Turner Prize in 1999, but did not win. It did, however, help cinch Emin’s notoriety as one of the YBAs—that is, Young British Artists, though she and her contemporaries like Damien Hirst are no longer so young.

In an interview last year with the New York Times Magazine, Emin said revisiting ‘My Bed’ when reinstalling it for exhibits brought back evocative memories of her youth: “I was thinking, with the cigarettes, that’s so weird because I don’t smoke anymore. I haven’t had sex for years, and there’s this condom. God, there’s a tampon, and I haven’t had a period for years.”

The work is arguably Emin’s best-known, rivaled only by ‘Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995,’ a tent whose interior she appliquéd with the names of everyone whose bed she had ever shared, sexually or platonically. That work, also acquired by Saatchi, was destroyed in the Momart warehouse fire in London in 2004.

‘My Bed’ sold for approximately $3.77 million, which would buy you something in the region of 2,500 ordinary beds priced at $1,500 each.

TIME Fine Art

30 Years of Cirque du Soleil’s Best Photos

The best collection of photos from the "dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment" as the beloved act turns 30.

The “dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment” show turned 30 this week, after three decades of incredible acrobatic acts—and astonishing photos of them.

TIME Fine Art

Why Marina Abramović’s 512 Hours Didn’t Make Me Cry

Serbian-born performance artist Marina Abramovic attends a press conference to announce her latest durational performance at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, central London on June 9, 2014. The performance will last for a total of 512 hours and will begin on June 11. WILL OLIVER--AFP/Getty Images

Marina Abramovic interacts with the public in her new exhibit

“Are you going to cry?”

It was the first thing my editor asked when I told him that I was going to see the Marina Abramović exhibit, 512 Hours, at the Serpentine Gallery. The Serbian-born artist’s exhibit had premiered on June 11 with much fanfare, as long queues had formed outside the gallery and many people were reportedly moved to tears. As a performance artist, Abramović has long used her own body as the subject object, and medium of her work, but how that would play out in 512 Hours wasn’t initially clear. Though she had committed to interacting with an audience at the gallery eight hours a day for 64 days (for a total of 512 hours), she’d also said that it would be open-ended and during those hours “something may or may not happen.” It wasn’t a lot to go on. Yet I couldn’t see myself crying — though many people have been known to weep at an Abramović exhibit — and I told my editor as much.

But when I arrive at the gallery, nestled in London’s Hyde Park, I find myself a little nervous. A gallery employee stamps my wrist and points me toward a room of lockers, where I’m expected to lock up my bag and — most importantly — my cell phone, so I can enter the exhibit unencumbered. I do so, slightly begrudgingly, and head into the exhibit.

The exhibit space is three connecting rooms, all stripped bare with bright white, empty walls. There is no furniture or decoration, except for a simple stage in the middle of the main room. The gallery is filled, however, with people, roughly 100 or so. Some stand near or on the stage, others lean against the wall. There are people of all ages, though I suspect that more than a few of the younger patrons are art students. Still unsure of what to expect, I hover by the doorway and watch.

Abramović, dressed all in black with her long dark hair in a long braid down her back, makes her way slowly through the crowd, approaching members of the audience and leading them to other areas of the gallery. There are about a dozen assistants — also dressed in all black — who do the same. They escort people around the room, quietly instructing them to breathe, to relax, to slow down. Some people are positioned in front of blank walls, others are positioned facing strangers. A few people are instructed to slowly walk the length of the room and back. No one is talking, but there is constant movement.

With the open room and hushed, focused audience, the space has a calm, relaxed vibe, much like a library or a particularly zen yoga studio. Yet I also feel slightly anxious, which I suspect has to do with Abramović and her silent crew of assistants, circling through the space and randomly selecting patrons. Though they couldn’t seem any more benevolent, I still tense up every time one of them nears me.

I’m clearly not the only one who’s slightly uncomfortable. I watch as Abramović approaches a 60-something man who had momentarily entered the exhibit with his wife. The artist reaches out to take his hand and I am close enough to hear her whisper, “Close your eyes and trust me,” in his ear. She then guides him, slowly, into another room of the exhibit. A few minutes later she returns, takes the man’s wife by the hand and leads her in the same direction. A few more minutes pass, then the couple walk, quickly, back through the main room and out the door, leaving the exhibit less than 10 minutes after they arrived.

Another woman, who appears to be in her 30s, walks out of the gallery, exclaiming that the exhibit is “preposterous.” Yet other people are clearly enjoying themselves. Many sit on the floor and several have even taken off their shoes. Outside the gallery, one 20-something woman says that she “felt a real connection to the other people and to the performance artists.”

Others compare the exhibit to Abramović’s 2010 exhibit, The Artist Is Here, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where she had sat unmoving as observers were invited to sit across from her. That exhibit was seen by some 750,000 people, but one woman says she found 512 Hours more moving, “because it engaged more of the audience at the same time.”

Back inside, a young, small assistant with a pixie cut engages with me. She smiles and gently takes my hand, lacing her fingers through mine, which strikes me as quite an intimate way to touch a stranger. She leads me — slowly, of course — onto the small stage in the middle of the room and softly instructs me to close my eyes. I do. She then places one hand on my chest and another hand on my back. “Breathe in through your nose and hold it,” she whispers. I do. “Now breathe out through your mouth. Listen to the space, feel the energy of the other people.” I do — and suddenly I am very relaxed.

When I open my eyes again, the assistant has moved on and many of the people who had been standing around me are also gone. I realize I’ve been in the gallery for far longer than I intended — about 90 minutes — and I should be going. But I wait for a few more moments, watching as fresh faces are led around the room. I no longer feel anxious and, much to my editor’s disappointment, I’m sure, I also don’t feel like crying. I do feel calm though and very much at peace, which is more than enough for me.

TIME Fine Art

Marina Abramović Is Now Present In London

Serbian-born performance artist Marina Abramovic attends a press conference to announce her latest durational performance at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, London on June 9, 2014. Will Oliver—AFP/Getty Images

The famed performance artist will be appearing in the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park until Aug. 25

Three bare rooms filled by visitors assuming positions as instructed by the artist may not sound like a box office draw, but Marina Abramović’s newest show in London is already drawing huge crowds, the BBC reports.

“512 Hours,” which opened Wednesday in the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park, London, is named after the number of hours the performance artist will spend with her visitors while the exhibit is on view. It’s Abramović’s first performance art show since “The Artist is Present,” which drew over half a million visitors to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2010. Then, Abramović sat speechless and motionless in a chair while visitors took turns to sit opposite her; now, the artist intends to connect with them both emotionally and physically.

“I honestly don’t know; I don’t have a plan. That is the point,” she told the New York Times, talking about her vision for the show. “The idea is that the public are my material, and I am theirs. I will open the gallery myself in the morning and close it at 6 p.m. with my key. I want to understand how I can be in the present moment, be with the public.”

According to the BBC, Abramović whispered to one of the visitors to “take in the silence” and “just be present.” Another visitor said the artist drew some to tears, and a third compared the show to “a very beautiful party where nobody talks.” One attendee equated the exhibit with a religious experience, the BBC said.

The show will be open through Aug. 25. There is no entrance fee, the BBC reports, but the gallery has implemented a “one in-one out” admission policy, allowing no more than 160 visitors at a time.

The Serbia-born artist’s new piece has already drawn some controversy, as several historians and curators have asked the Serpentine Gallery why Abramović’s show does not recognize the influence of another artist who deals with the concept of “nothing” in her work—New York-based Mary Ellen Carroll. But Abramović told The New York Times that she thinks it would be difficult for any artist to “claim nothing.”

“I think it’s a misunderstanding anyway,” she said in the interview. “It’s not that I’m doing nothing, quite the opposite. It’s just that there is nothing except people in the space. But now we are getting letters every day from people who did nothing first. It seems to have become something.”

TIME Fine Art

Google Project Aims to Make Street Art Immortal

Google Cultural Institute is taking street art off the walls and into your computer.

From murals in Atlanta to graffiti in Tunisia, Google’s Street Art Project, which launches Tuesday, preserves and gives Internet access to more than 5,000 photographic records of otherwise impermanent artwork.

Google Cultural Institute‘s director Amit Sood says the project’s mission is to turn the world into “one huge open-air gallery for everyone to enjoy.”

“These works of art that decorate our streets do not always hang about for long, which is why we’re delighted to work with partners around the globe to help them tell a story of street art around the globe,” Sood said, referring to environmental and societal elements that threaten to destroy works of art created in public space.

Street art is at once a celebrated and reviled pastime. From humble beginnings as a vandal’s crime in New York City, street art has evolved to become globally accepted. Artists like Shepard Fairey and JR have seen their work attract attention in political campaigns and high society. However, street art can still be considered vandalism in many cases in the U.S. and around the world. This was proven in last year’s destruction of the iconic 5 Pointz in Queens. The street art initiative by Google provides a safe haven for these masterfully creative works.

One of the most important features is that the images are shown in their natural habitat, so the viewer can truly understand the space the art creates (quite an improvement over putting a Banksy piece in an auction). Not only does Google’s street art project preserve street art for time immemorial, but it provides a window into another world of art spanning the entire globe.

TIME Style

Graphic Designer Massimo Vignelli Dies at 83

Massimo Vignelli Dead
Massimo Vignelli poses on the Exhibition "Kkann: lacqua - il Flusso " of Artist Dario Milana, At Milan Stock Exchange Opening Days on Nov. 18, 2011 in Milan. Pier Marco Tacca—Getty Images

The renowned designer did work for Bloomingdale's, the National Park Service, Xerox, IBM and Ford and has been featured in many international exhibits

Acclaimed graphic designer Massimo Vignelli, whose most recognizable works include the original American Airlines logo and a 1972 New York City subway map, died Tuesday at age 83.

Yoshiki Waterhouse, who worked at the designer’s company, said Vignelli had been sick and died in his Manhattan home, the Associated Press reports.

Vignelli, who was born in Italy and immigrated to the United States in the 1960s, also created memorable work for Bloomingdale’s, the National Park Service, Xerox, IBM, Gillette and Ford, which has been exhibited in museums around the world, the New York Times reports.

But the most enduring, perhaps, is the subway map. His “contribution to improving the way New Yorkers find their way around the subway system is hard to overstate, and it will endure for a long time to come,” MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told the AP.

Vignelli is survived by his wife and business partner, Lella, as well as two children and three grandchildren.

On desktop, roll over this graphic to get a closer look; on mobile, click to zoom.



TIME Fine Art

Tate Modern Puts Defaced Rothko Back on Display

Vandalised Mark Rothko Work Goes Back On Display After Restoration
A woman poses with Mark Rothko's painting Black On Maroon 1958 (right) after going back on display at Tate Modern gallery, 18 months after it was vandalised with graffiti on May 13, 2014 in London, England. The 1958 painting, worth around £5million to £9million, was defaced in October 2012 by Wlodzimierz Umaniec. Rob Stothard--Getty Images

The London gallery has put Mark Rothko's painting “Black on Maroon” back on display, 18 months after a homeless artist vandalized the work with dripping black ink

The Tate Modern in London is putting Mark Rothko’s mural “Black on Maroon” back on display Tuesday, more than a year and a half after the work was defaced with black ink by an art blogger attempting to draw attention to an obscure artistic movement.

In October, 2012, Wlodzimierz Umaniec, a homeless Russian artist, stepped over a barrier at the London gallery and calmly wrote “A Potential Piece of Yellowism” in the bottom right-hand corner of the piece with dripping black ink, before signing the name “Vladimir Umanets.” The 1958 painting is thought to be worth anywhere between $8.5 million to $15 million. Umaniec later said he believed his vandalism had made the work more valuable and described “Yellowism,” a movement he helped found, to ABC News, calling it “neither art nor anti-art. It is a resignation of art.” Umaniec received a two-year jail sentence for his vandalism.

The gallery has spent the past 18 months restoring the painting, which was made with layers of oil, pigment, resin, egg and glue. The black ink had soaked through the layers to the work’s canvas in certain places. A Tate spokesman told the Telegraph that while the damage “will always remain under the surface of the work,” the painting is now considered to be in “a displayable condition.”


TIME Fine Art

Italy Furious At Gun-Toting ‘David’ Statue In U.S. Rifle Ad


An advertisement from Illinois-based weapons manufacturer ArmaLite depicting Michelangelo's sculpture David carrying a AR-50A1 rifle causes outrage in Italy, as the minister of culture threatens legal action

A U.S. gun ad featuring Michelangelo’s David wielding a rifle has stirred up rage in Italy, where the Renaissance-era sculpture is considered virtually sacrosanct.

The advertisement, made by Illinois-based ArmaLite, depicts David holding an AR-50A1 rifle, a large sniper rifle that fires .50 caliber bullets and costs $ 3,300, reports Il Post. The advertisement carries the line “AR-50A1: A work of art.”

Italy’s culture minister Dario Franceschini said the image was offensive and violated the law, and an official at the Department of Culture in Florence said it has warned the arms producer not to use the image.

Anyone who wants to use the statue of David for “promotional purposes,” said the official, “has to respect the cultural dignity (of the work of art).” But the director of the museum that houses the statue warned legal options may be limited.

Michelangelo created the sculpture of the Biblical hero between 1501 and 1504. It is considered a masterpiece of Renaissance art.

ArmaLite is known for producing the M16, the standard weapon for the U.S. Army and several NATO countries for many years.

[Il Post]


How to Dip Your Toe in the Art Market

As Michelle Andrews reported for the MONEY article “Investments You Can Live With”, prices for art, antiques, and the like are still down significantly from their pre-recession peaks. If you’ve been itching to invest in art but don’t exactly have millions to blow, fine photographs are a great option. Because they’re made in multiples (unlike paintings), they’re much more affordable; you can snap up one by a master for a few thousand dollars. Interested? Get moving — the spring auction season has begun.

The Christie’s sale runs from Wednesday through Thursday; go to christies.com to check out the goods and place your bid (you can go in person if you happen to be in NYC). Thursday’s offerings include a Helen Levitt photo of New York in the ’40s (lot 412; estimate: $4,000 to $6,000), a Robert Frank photo of Peru in the ’40s (lot 313; estimate: $5,000 to $7,000); and Ansel Adams’ iconic “Moonrise, Hernandez, Northern New Mexico” (lot 321; estimate: $7,000 to $9,000).

There’s another large auction at Phillips starting the day after tomorrow (the 16th), also in New York. Go to phillipsdepury.com to see the selection; you can bid online or via telephone. The site has all the info.

Never bought anything at auction before? Consider being a lurker this time. That is, monitor what sells at each auction and for how much, so you can get a sense of how the process works. And next time you’re in New York, attend an auction in person; they’re open to the public, and they’re fun. I attended my first photo auctions at Christies and Sothebys in the ’90s on assignment for MONEY. I’ve been kicking myself for not buying anything ever since — several photos I considered are now worth many times more than what they sold for then.

Any auction experiences — good, bad, or illuminating — that you’d like to share? Please post them to comments.

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 45,130 other followers