Plus: the uncertain market for Old Masters, the Cambridge colleges that have turned to wood, the artists who have taken young women seriously, and reviews of Guido Reni, Edward Hopper and the new museum at the Bibliothèque nationale
‘Island nations tend to be complacent about border problems, seeing them as things that happen to someone else. But then you have Brexit and Northern Ireland, and it suddenly becomes clear that no one is safe.
Russia is fighting Ukraine about borders. This means that, as well as dodging bombs and getting used to living in the dark, residents of the border zone have to decide if they are “really” Russian or “really” Ukrainian.
Some will no doubt be keeping the non-chosen identity in a trunk in the attic, to be retrieved in case of future need. But the logic of war is stern: those who choose to be Ukrainians are also opting to hate Russians as the enemy invader, while those in Ukraine who choose to be Russians are contemplating the possibility of having to move east.
Wherever the border ultimately settles, there will be fortifications and troops stationed on either side and a series of tightly controlled crossing points. Villages and families will be divided and the normal commerce of economic and social life disrupted. Schools will teach in the language of the victor. Roads that used to lead somewhere will end abruptly.’
The Curtain and the Wall: A Modern Journey along Europe’s Cold War Borderby Timothy Phillips
On the Edge: Life along the Russia-China Border by Franck Billé and Caroline Humphrey
Bodies of water act as both borders and conjunctions, where societies are delineated and defined. Further contradictory meanings bubble through to the surface as Blissett’s imagined landscapes become psychological spaces for meditation where the river is an obstacle to be crossed and considered.
In Rubicon, Blissett’s upland rivers are framed by bridges that run perpendicular to the body of water. The artist’s central placement of the bridges, Roman architectural embellishments in linear perspective, and urge to repetitively revisit similar yet increasingly foreboding environments reveals an attempt to organize or frame the scene. Yet, this organization is a fiction as from this positioning, the bridges cannot encompass the swell, the rugged topography, and the cloud-blemished skies. While bridges connect lands and cultures, from this frontal viewpoint, the ends of the arches depicted in Blissett’s paintings are rendered inaccessible
January 20, 2023: Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in Tokyo are the subject of a legal claim in the US relating to Nazi loot.
The Art Newspaper’s London correspondent and resident Van Gogh expert Martin Bailey tells us why Sunflowers (1888-89) is at the centre of the dispute, 35 years after it was sold for a record price at auction, and why the heirs of the German Jewish banker Paul von Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, who owned it until the 1930s, now value it at a staggering $250m.
Our editor-at-large Georgina Adam has just returned from Singapore, where the first Art SG art fair took place last week. How successful was this new event in the art market calendar, and what does it tell us about Singapore’s ambitions to become an art hub?
And this episode’s Work of the Week is Portraits in a Chinese Studio, a photographic work by the artist Grace Lau. In the project, which marks Chinese New Year, Lau is subverting the tradition of colonial 19th-century portrait studios in a shopping centre in Southampton on the south coast of the UK.Grace Lau: Portraits in a Chinese Studio, Marlands Shopping Centre, Southampton, UK, 21 January-12 February