Issue Number: 117
Honorary RAs are distinguished artists outside the UK. New projects by four of them take us around the globe. By Ben Luke
Ai Weiwei Hon RA dips a Han dynasty vase into industrial paint in his photograph from the series ‘Coloured Vases', 2007-10. courtesy of the artist. The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, who became an Honorary RA in 2011, is renowned as much for his struggles with Chinese authorities as he is for his art. Now a retrospective at the Hirshhorn Museum, in Washington DC (until 24 Feb, 2013) celebrates his provocative works, in which antique urns are emblazoned in Coca-Cola logos or dipped in candy-coloured paint. But much of his work is more subtle, exploring Chinese culture through elegant twists on the severe, abstract language of minimalist art.
Anselm Kiefer Hon RA, 'Himmelsschlucht', 2011-12. Photo Charles Duprat. Art dealer Thaddaeus Ropac opens his spectacular new Galerie Ropac in north-eastern Paris with a show of Anselm Kiefer Hon RA (until 27 Jan, 2013). The complex of five buildings, once an ironware factory, might be intimidating for some artists to fill but Kiefer’s monumental works, with their weighty subjects, exploit this scale to dramatic effect.
In several paintings, some over seven metres wide, he continues to draw on themes from the Old Testament, alchemy and poetry. In his towering sculpture Himmelsschlucht or ‘Sky pit’ (2011-12), a rickety pile of rusting hospital beds is accompanied by hand-written texts of Paul Celan’s poem, Crowned Out, in chalk on blackboard. Meanwhile, Kiefer stars in the inaugural show of the new Gagosian Gallery at Le Bourget north of Paris (until 26 Jan, 2013). This warehouse gallery near the airport is filled with Kiefer’s monumental sculpture,
Marina Abramović Hon RA, Part of the series of photographs entitled 'With Eyes Closed I See Happiness', 2012. © Marina Abramovic. Courtesy Marina Abramovic archives. Morgenthau Plan, in which a golden wheat field is enclosed by a 5m-high steel cage.
At Galerie Krinzinger in Vienna (until 24 Nov) Marina Abramović Hon RA shows photographs from her series 'With Eyes Closed I See Happiness' (2012) alongside a group of sculptures.
The photographs show her in meditation and also interacting with objects and choreographing movements to achieve a state of calm and ecstasy, which is key to her ability to create her lengthy performance works.
The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is the latest stop for a retrospective of Cindy Sherman Hon RA featuring 160 works. Adopting roles that veer from comic to tragic, Sherman draws on representations of women that prompt us to ask what they might say about society and its attitude to women. A highlight is
Cindy Sherman Hon RA, ‘Untitled #92', 1981, from the ‘Centrefolds' series. The Museum of Modern Art, New York/The Fellows of Photography Fund/© 2011 Cindy Sherman/Courtesy of the artist and Metro Pictures, New York. her ground-breaking Untitled Film Stills series, which are entirely fictional plays on feminine identity in the movies.