Saturday. 2/2/2019

Monocle
Weekend Edition

Image: Julien Gremaud

Culture

In the frame

Size has always mattered in the art world but – as Artgenève shows – bigger isn’t always better.

The world of Swiss art fairs might be dominated by the behemoth that is Art Basel but Geneva, on the country’s western border, is building a reputation as a contemporary-art marketplace too. Taking place this weekend inside the city’s Palexpo, Artgenève has muscled its way onto the calendar by making the most of an increasingly sought-after characteristic: a more manageable size. The roster of galleries might be smaller than other more renowned fairs but all the main players are present, from Gagosian to Hauser & Wirth. The event coincides with Verbier Art Summit for those who feel like heading up the mountain for a loftier conversation.

Film

Cutting comment

New film ‘Velvet Buzzsaw’ takes aim at the art world – but is it as scary as the real thing?

Unless you’re an artist or an art dealer, the best way to enjoy the art world is to have as much fun as possible at somebody’s else’s expense. This seems to be the aim of director Dan Gilroy, whose new film Velvet Buzzsaw (now playing on Netflix) takes aim at the excess and tawdriness of the art market via the genre for which it is a perfect fit: horror. Gilroy bared the dark heart of TV news in his excellent 2014 film Nightcrawler, which starred Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo. He employs the same actors for his new film, this time as a nauseating critic and voracious dealer respectively. Like much in contemporary art, the work is “bad”: sculptures attack people, paintings strangle and performance maims. Some of this is metaphor; much of it need not be. Velvet Buzzsaw is silly, fairly scary and a lot of fun. It seems that Dorian Gray was right: it’s best to keep paintings in the attic.

Image: Shutterstock

Fashion

Behind the scenes

The gowns at the V&A’s Dior exhibition in London are breathtaking but it’s the mock-ups – and their correction marks – that steal the show.

Among the 200 couture garments on show at Dior: Designer of Dreams, opening today at London’s V&A museum, are Christian Dior’s groundbreaking 1947 Bar Suit (with its padded shoulders and cinched waist), a fantastical silk-and-fur frock by John Galliano and a Raf Simons-designed gown embellished with thousands of tiny beaded flowers. The exhibition (based on the 2017 showcase by Paris’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs) is as much about the Dior brand, and how its aesthetic has morphed over the years, as it is about its genius founder who revolutionised fashion with his New Look. The standout is not a couture gown, in fact, but a room filled with toiles: beige-cotton mock-ups of garments (complete with red-pen marks) that, with no ornamentation, reveal most clearly the brilliant craftsmanship at the heart of this historic house.

Image: Getty Images

Politics

Vanishing point

Bangkok’s Art Biennale has been a scholarly success – its absence will leave a void in Thailand’s cultural milieu.

The first Bangkok Art Biennale comes to an end tomorrow. Since October, the event in the Thai capital has showcased the work of 75 artists from 33 countries, including the likes of Yayoi Kusama and Marina Abramović. The last few weeks in Bangkok has been marred by the city’s pollution crisis but the event has been a success, particularly as it offered local artists an opportunity to comment on sociopolitical issues without interference from the country’s military dictatorship. At a time of uncertainty and fragmentation, the theme “Beyond Bliss”, which was inspired by Buddhism, gave Thai artists such as Nino Sarabutra and the Muslimah Collective a platform to address controversial subjects, from religious conflict to exploitation. The art was displayed across numerous venues and Buddhist temples so was accessible to all – and will leave a void when it disappears.

Maapilim

The Entrepreneurs: Eureka

Jonathan Keren and his husband Doron Baduach launched a line of men’s grooming products in 2016, called Maapilim. The brand has found success in focusing on quality products for men – without the macho marketing.

Athens: The Monocle Travel Guide

The weekly pilgrimage to a ‘laiki agora’ is at the heart of Greek lifestyle. To celebrate the launch of our latest book, Monocle Films takes stock at one of its favourite Athenian food markets.

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