March 19, 2008 · Print This Article
A newly discovered wooden sculpture of a Buddha that had religious objects sealed in its torso for 800 years sold for $14.3 million, setting a world record for any Japanese work of art, Christie’s auction house said.
The seated figure of Dainichi Nyorai, or the supreme Buddha, is attributed to Unkei, considered one of the two best sculptors of the early Kamakura period in the 1190s, when the most highly regarded Buddhist art was produced.
It was purchased at auction Tuesday by Mitsukoshi Ltd., one of Japan’s major department stores. Its presale estimate was $1.5 million to $2 million.
The Buddha, made of Cyprus wood, sits in a lotus position wearing princely attire, a crown and jewelry, and hair in a topknot. It is believed to have come from a temple during the Meiji period (1868-1911) when Shinto was adopted as the state religion of Japan, Christie’s said. Read more
February 19, 2008 · Print This Article
Japan’s Supreme Court has issued a landmark decision opening the way for the sale of a book of collected erotic photographs by the late Robert Mapplethorpe.
This would over rule a 2003 decision by the Tokyo High Court that banned the book’s sale because it was deemed indecent. Tuesday’s ruling is believed to be the first time the top court has overturned a lower court decision on obscenity.
Publisher Takashi Asai called it “groundbreaking” and predicted the ruling might “change [Japan's] obscenity standard.”
Justice Kohei Nasu said the black-and-white portraits were from an “artistic point of view” and led the majority opinion of the five-judge panel that Mapplethorpe was “a leading figure in contemporary art.”
The justices did, however, throw out Asai’s demand for government compensation of arround $20,000 US.
Japan’s domestic obscenity laws were relaxed in the 1990s but imported publications are handled by customs and the laws still ban images of genitals.
Asai, of Uplink publishers, had argued that the import ban was obsolete, pointing out the Mapplethorpe book was in the Japanese parliament’s library and that copies were offered for sale on the internet.
His company had been selling the Japanese version of Mapplethorpe’s 384-page book since 1994. The book, entitled “Robert Mapplethorpe”, contains 20 close-up photos of male genitalia.
Everything changed in 1999 when airport customs officials in Japan confiscated a copy of the book that Asai had been carrying.
Then Tokyo police visited him and gave him a warning, causing Asai to voluntarily suspend sales of the book in 2000.
Asai decided to go to court and in 2002, he won a case in Tokyo District Court. The government was ordered to give back his book and to pay $6,480 US in damages. But a year later, a higher court overturned that ruling. At that point, Asai took the case to the highest court in the land. Leading to today’s ruling.
For two days in December, Los Angeles residents were blessed with some of the best public art I’ve seen in quite a while.
A billboard for Takahasi Murakami’s retrospective was bombed by legendary writers AUGER/REVOK.
LA weekly is now reporting that the missing work didn’t get censored, but was actually was picked up by Murakami himself for his KaiKai KiKi studio. Link to LA Weekly Article.
This week Anthony Elms and Duncan talk to Marc Fischer about the Public Collectors project and other things.
Then Marc LeBlanc and Brian Andrews talk about how Marc is turning Japanese, he thinks he’s turning Japanese, he really thinks so….
The intro discusses how Philip von Zweck is a thug.
Anthony, please, dear God, talk in to the mic, seriously.
The following blurbs were shamelessly stolen from PVZ’s site:
Marc Fischer is 1/3 of the group Temporary Services, 1/11th of Mess Hall- an experimental cultural center in Roger’s Park (where he co-organizes the Hardcore Histories series), and an artist who curated the prison-themed exhibition “Captive Audience” at Gallery 400 earlier this year. In addition to believing that vinyl remains the superior format for the appreciation of recorded music, Fischer still refuses to own a fucking cell phone.
Anthony Elms overcame his youth as just another punk in Michigan to become the assistant director of Gallery 400, the editor of WhiteWalls, and a writer whose works have appeared in like every freakin’ magazine ever (except Artforum, whatever), plus in some exhibition catalogs for stuff that didn’t happen at VONZWECK, but was still ok. He’s pimped himself out at times; and participated in some panel discussions, but I think the panel discussion is always a bad idea, always. Anthony agrees.
On Public Collectors:
VONZWECK- as an entity, doesn’t care about art. You know it, you always have. But VONZWECK likes administration, and… stuff. Especially other people’s stuff! So does Marc Fischer. He likes stuff so much he’s started a whole new initiative to get to see it, and, being the unselfish soul that he is, to share it.
It’s called Public Collectors and it is founded upon the concern that there are many types of cultural artifacts that public libraries, museums and other institutions and archives either do not collect or do not make freely accessible. Public Collectors asks people that have had the luxury to amass, organize, and inventory these materials, to help reverse this lack by making their collections public. It’s voluntary and it’s free. Not about selling, or buying and not restricted to art. It’s about getting to see something you might not have access to otherwise and exchanges of knowledge.
For this – the kickoff, the ribbon cutting, Marc will be sharing one of his collections: records. That’s right actual records, long players, vinyl, what have you. Many will be on display; many more will be brought to the space for listening on request.
But the idea isn’t just for you to see Marc’s stuff, it’s for you to share your collection(s) and view other peoples’. Other collections are online and many more will be added soon at www.publiccollectors.org.