Tapestries from India’s Raghu Rai

ragu-raiRaghu Rai, “Backdrop Series.” Image courtesy Aicon Gallery.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2011, 2017 Paul Ben-Itzak

NEW YORK –“In the course of my work,” says Raghu Rai, receiving his first major solo exhibition in New York through March 20 at the Aicon Gallery at 35 Great Jones, “I find that I have been moving to focus on the changing equations of our times, trying to record the deeper universal human responses.” A giant of photography who was nominated for the legendary Magnum Photos agency in 1977 by Henri Cartier-Bresson, Rai has been published by the New Yorker, Life, Time, and others, and has always prized a certain fidelity to the reality of his subjects. “‘When I slice out a space, a moment,” he explains, “it should be done with such simplicity and faithfulness that when I give it back to life, life starts moving and flowing around it without a stutter.”

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What makes this painting worth 802,000 Euros?

contempaclindner-smallRichard Lindner (1901 – 1978), “Stranger No. 1,” 1958. Oil on canvas, 50 x 30 inches. Artcurial pre-sale estimate: 600,000 – 800,000 Euros. Sold for 802,000 Euros. Image copyright and courtesy Artcurial.

By Paul Ben-Itzak
Text copyright 2016 Paul Ben-Itzak

I was all set to slam that someone had paid 802,600 Euros — just over Artcurial’s pre-sale estimate of 600,000 – 800, 000 at its December 6 post-war and contemporary art auction in Paris — for Richard Lindner’s 1958 “Stranger No. 1,” (I even had my headline: “Is the art market crazy, or am I clueless?”) The hodge-podge style, which bears traces of German Expressionism and hints at Pop Art things to come, seems to dilute both. Inspired by various schools, Lindner — a Hamburg-born illustrator who only really began painting at the age of 49, producing just 120 tableaux over 28 years — at first appeared in this painting to be a master of none. But then I took a closer look at the hi-res jpeg sent to me by the kindly Artcurial stagiare (intern) before reducing the file, and discovered 100 years of art history contained in one 50 x 30 inch oil painting.
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