Art in Print

Van Gogh wasn’t ill, he just had a drink problem, new research suggests

The famously tortured artist Vincent van Gogh did not suffer from lifelong medical conditions, according to new analysis released by the Dutch museum. Instead, 30 international medical experts have announced that it is likely  the artist had an alcohol problem and suffered from repeated breakdowns during his final 18 months. Neurologists, psychiatrists and internal medicine specialists have been taking part in a two-day conference in Amsterdam to try to determine a “definitive” medical diagnosis for him. Weighing up evidence, including his many letters, they analysed competing theories that he had suffered from illnesses including epilepsy, cycloid psychosis, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder.
 “Before December 23 1888, it is not really possible to say he had a disease or an illness, although you could point out certain things that could give you problems,” said Mr Oderward. “But the outcome was suddenly he collapsed and has a psychosis. “This could come from alcohol intoxication, lack of sleep, work stress and troubles with Gauguin, who was going to leave – attachment being one of his problems in life. He has repeated episodes of psychosis but recovered completely in between.” Ultimately, “one single thing cannot explain the entire picture of what happened to van Gogh,” he said.
 Via The Daily Telegraph

Four of Rembrandt’s Five Senses reunited…but hunt is on for the last lost painting

 Four of Rembrandt’s earliest paintings, four-fifths of the “Five Senses” series, are to be reunited for the first time in centuries after “Smell” was sensationally discovered in a cellar last year and are to go on public display in the Oxford museum. The paintings were created around 1624-5 when the artist was still a teenager, and depict the five senses - a popular allegorical theme of the day.
 “Smell”, long thought missing, was discovered last years in the basement of a New Jersey home in the United States, offered at auction for just $500-800 and thought to be by a minor 19th century painting by an unknown artist. It will now go on public show alongside Hearing, Touch and Sight for the first time, with as experts say the missing Taste could still be “languishing in someone’s attic” somewhere in the world.
 The fifth painting: Taste, however, still remains lost and possibly destroyed.
 Via The Daily Telegraph

David Shrigley: “I wrote my proposal for the Fourth Plinth like a character from The Thick of It might have done”

 In two weeks, David Shrigley’s new sculpture, “Really Good”, will be unveiled on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square. At first sight it looks like a work that needs no artspeak to explain its meaning. It’s a giant thumbs-up, cast in bronze. And who doesn’t understand that? Just in case there’s any doubt, Shrigley has titled the piece Really Good. He’s even made the thumb extra long, to emphasise the “really”.
When Shrigley submitted his proposal to the Mayor of London’s office back in 2013 he accompanied it with a short text. “There currently seems to be a worrying trend for things being bad: the economy, the weather, society etc,” he wrote. “This is obviously a trend that needs to be reversed. I think the piece would become a kind of  self-fulfilling prophecy: if things are identified as being good, then therefore they become good and everything will get better.” Shrigley fans will not be surprised by the satirical tone. The cartoonish gesture of the piece and the deadpan humour of the words are the winning formula that have elevated him from cult status to one of Britain’s most successful artists.
His sculpture brings us neatly back to a discussion on the meaning of “Really Good”. When he first proposed the piece for the Fourth Plinth Boris Johnson was London Mayor, the Tories had yet to win the 2015 election and there was no certainty that the EU referendum would ever happen. Now “Really Good” has a very different context.
 Via Evening Standard

 Richard Attenborough’s beloved Picasso ceramics to go on sale

 Perhaps the finest collection of Pablo Picasso ceramics in private hands, acquired on annual holidays over five decades by the late actor and director Sir Richard Attenborough, is to be sold at auction.
 The ceramics were bought on family holidays to the south of France, a regular trip remembered fondly by Attenborough’s son, the theatre director Michael Attenborough. A few miles from their hotel on the Cap d’Antibes was the Madoura pottery studio in Vallauris and it was here in 1954 that Lord Attenborough discovered Picasso ceramics, buying a few editions every year as a birthday treat. Attenborough adored the ceramics and considered them the work of a genius. Remarkably, the ceramics were quite cheap to buy. “It sounds like a man dripping in money, liberally spending it on Picassos,” said Michael. “But at the time they simply weren’t expensive.” They are now, however, with the 67 lots being sold by Sotheby’s estimated to bring in a combined total of £1.5m. One large vase with female nudes – whose hips and buttocks follow the curves of the vase – is estimated at £250,000-350,000.
Via The Guardian

Controversial British designer behind planned $150m New York sculpture 

A controversial British designer is behind an audacious $150m public art structure nicknamed the Stairway to Nowhere planned for a new multi-billion dollar commercial development on New York City’s west side. His design of a giant, free-standing collection of multi-level staircases that will give the public fresh views of the city was unveiled in New York on Wednesday and is currently under construction in Italy.
 Thomas Heatherwick, the designer of the art structure is behind the planned Garden bridge over the Thames in London that is under investigation for its use of public money and projections that it would need a taxpayer bailout once operational. However, the private company behind the New York project said on Thursday, that it was “not concerned that there will be cost overruns on a large scale” for the staircase piece, even though the cost has already doubled from the original estimate of $75m, according to the New York Times.
 Heatherwick’s new piece is officially called “Vessel” and will incorporate 2,500 stairs in a bold, basket-shaped structure standing within a new plaza with trees, paths and flowerbeds, surrounded by skyscrapers.
 Via The Guardian

Solid gold toilet at Guggenheim Museum open for public use

A new exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum will encourage visitors to make use of a fully functional 18-carat gold lavatory, which has replaced one of the porcelain toilets in a public bathroom on the premises.
 The artwork, created by the Italian artist and sculptor Maurizio Cattelan, is named “America”. Any visitor who has paid the museum’s admission fee can look at or interact with the “bold, irreverent work”, according to the Guggenheim. the exhibit’s “participatory nature”, whereby viewers are invited to make use of the fixture “individually and privately”, allows for “an experience of unprecedented intimacy with a work of art”. “Cattelan’s toilet offers a wink to the excesses of the art market but also evokes the American dream of opportunity for all—its utility ultimately reminding us of the inescapable physical realities of our shared humanity,” the museum added.
 Via iNews