No matter fine art fairs or upscale galleries I go to, I always feel like a bit of an outsider. An intruder even. I know it’s all between my ears, but still. On the one hand, I love looking at art up close, studying its details and learning about the artist who made it. But on the other hand, I also know that I won’t be able to afford any of the works on display. Sure, art dealers don’t know who I am or how much I make. Even so, I always make sure that I tell them, ‘Oh, I’m just looking’ or worse, I stay outside their booth at, say, TEFAF and admire everything from afar. Lucky for me, there’s a new kid on the block and its name is Art City.
I spent the last few days wandering the streets of Art City, a virtual fine art fair with some of the most prestigious galleries you can think of. And although looking at a photo of an artwork online will never beat seeing it in real life, I have to say I really, really love it. By clicking on the buildings that line the streets of Art City, you can visit each individual gallery and stay as long as you want. All works on display are clickable and – even better – have lots of interesting stories about the artist and sometimes even a video. Definitely a big improvement over the limited information you usually get at an art gallery!
To get you in the mood, I’ve made screenshots of my ten favorite works of art, as you can see them ‘in the wild’ in Art City. For copyright reasons, I’ve not included any photos of the actual artworks, but I promise you’ll love exploring this virtual art fair as much as I did.
You have until October 28 to visit Art City. All you have to do is register at artcity.online – and don’t worry, doing so is absolutely free.
Interior designer Linda Lagrand shows how she would use some of the works on display in Art City in her own work.
Art City – 10 stunning works of fine art I found wandering its streets
1 – Auguste Herbin – COMPOSITION SUR LES NOMS COMMUNS: ANGE, LION, FAUVETTE
Thanks to Stern Pissarro Gallery in London, I now know that French artist Auguste Herbin developed a system he called alphabet plastique in which every letter corresponded with a shape, a color and a musical note. They even made a little video about it that is well worth watching.
2 – Jan Davidsz. De Heem – A STILL LIFE OF FRUIT ON A WOODEN TABLE
I started going to art class myself last year and let me tell you, the time I had to paint a still life of fruit, I learned that I am not a Dutch master. Yet. For now, I’m going to take another look at this work by Jan Davidsz. De Heem at Salomon Lilian and see if I can learn a thing or two.
3 – Max Ernst – LES JEUNES ET LES JEUX TWISTENT
Did you know that you can also explore Art City on your smartphone? In fact, I did just last night as I was watching a documentary about Peggy Guggenheim on TV. In it, she told about her affair with Max Ernst, who she thought had a very nice body. Out of a 50-minute documentary about the world’s leading 20th century artists, this is the one thing I remembered. Call it shallow, call it embarrassing, call it whatever you want. In any case, what a coincidence it was when I found this beautiful work by Max Ernst at Henze & Ketterer & Triebold moments later!
4 – Ming Dynasty tile work lions
Hands down *the* most tastefully decorated art gallery I’ve been to, like EVER, is Vanderven Oriental Art in the Dutch town of Bois-le-Duc. It is no wonder then that these tile work lions I just saw there are on top of my list as soon as I’ve reached the stage where I can actually request a price when it says ‘price upon request’. I’ll get there – eventually.
5 – Patrick Procktor – ERIC AND GERVASE
Can I be totally honest and say I’d never heard of Patrick Procktor before? I saw this watercolor at Osborne Samuel, did a little Googling and before I knew it, half an hour had passed. Turns out that Patrick Procktor was once as famous as David Hockney, who knew? I read in an article in The Standard that “Patrick Procktor’s life was marked by tragedy and a gradual decline into anonymity and alcoholism, culminating in a fire that destroyed much of his life’s work and left him destitute.” Which I guess is as good a sign as any that I really shouldn’t finish the can of beer standing on my desk.
6 – Léopold Survage – PORTEUSE
I know I’m being terribly predictable here, but give me a colorful painting and I’m a happy man. Case in point: Porteuse by Léopold Survage at Alon Zakaim.
7 – Johann Joachim Kändler – TWO FIGURES OF HUNTERS MOUNTED AS THREE-ARMED CANDELABRA
Robbig München always has by far the most impressive booth at TEFAF, I think. Like the porcelain objects they sell, it’s all deliciously over the top yet tasteful as well.
8 – A pair of Queen Anne verre églomisé wall lights
In case you’re wondering what ‘verre églonimisé means, it is a glass painting technique where you paint the rear face so that the front preserves its mirror finish. This is actually a lot harder than it sounds, because you have to work in reverse. Instead of starting with the background – like you would with a normal painting – you start out with the details and then work your way backwards. You really have to see the detailed images of this pair of Queen Anne verre églonomisé wall lights at the website of Ronald Phillips to appreciate how absolutely wonderful they are.
9 – Hermann Ratzersdorfer A 19TH CENTURY AUSTRIAN VIENNESE OCTOFOIL DISH
Don’t you wonder sometimes what a 21st century artist would do if he or she made a contemporary version of this dish? You can study it up close at Koopman Rare Art.
10 – Andy Warhol – JACKIE
Let’s face it, Melania can’t hold a candle to Jackie Kennedy (or any other first lady for that matter) – and this Andy Warhol portrait at Omer Tiroche is a stark reminder.
For more blogposts about fine art, explore the blogposts I’ve written about TEFAF.