a tale of a few cities

Licensing slip up: Velvet Underground sues over Giorgio de Chirico banana symbols

The Uncertainty of the Poet,  1913
L’Incertitude du poète


Rock group The Velvet Underground filed a lawsuit on Wednesday seeking to stop any future exhibition/reproduction of Giorgio de Chirico’s 1913 masterwork, The Uncertainty of the Poet.

The 1960s rock band formed by Lou Reed and John Cale accused the Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico of trademark infringement, retroactively claiming in a lawsuit that the use of banana symbols are synonymous with The Velvet Underground.

Each of the bananas featured in de Chirico’s iconic artwork bare an uncanny resemblance to the banana featured on the cover of Velvet Underground’s 1967 album “The Velvet Underground and Nico.”

The fact that de Chrico’s work was created decades earlier was not mentioned in the lawsuit.

Although Velvet Underground broke up in 1973, the album later came to be regarded as one of the best albums of all time, and was also referred to as “The Banana Album”.

“The symbol has become so identified with The Velvet Underground … that members of the public, particularly those who listen to rock music, immediately recognize the use of bananas as a symbol of The Velvet Underground,” the complaint added.

The lawsuit said the aging control freaks behind the band had repeatedly asked the Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico to cease all future exhibition and further reproduction of the 1913 work, The Uncertainty of the Poet.

Velvet Underground is seeking an injunction stopping the use of banana symbols by other parties, a declaration that the Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico has no retroactive copyright interest in the use of banana symbols, unspecified damages and a share of previous profits made by the Fondazione Giorgio de Chirico from any licensing deals of the iconic artwork.

Visual AIDS, Postcards From the Edge, NYC

I am in such good company here – who doesn’t  recognize a Marilyn Minter when they see one?

Visual AIDS utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving a legacy, because AIDS is not over. Visual AIDS is the only contemporary arts organization fully committed to HIV prevention and AIDS awareness through producing and presenting visual art projects, while assisting artists living with HIV/AIDS.

Postcards From the Edge is a unique fundraiser where each of the 1,500+ postcard-sized artworks are uniformly priced at only $85.00. All works are displayed anonymously, with the artis’s identity revealed only after the work is purchased. Featuring artworks by Jeff Koons, Yoko Ono, John Waters, Donald Baechler, Marilyn Minter, Ed Ruscha, Polly Apfelbaum, Adam Fuss, Kiki Smith, John Baldessari, Louise Fishman, Ross Bleckner, Barry McGee, Kay Rosen, Marcel Dzama, Jonathan Lasker, Mary Heilmann, Louise Lawler, Bill Jensen, Jane Hammond, Ann Hamilton, Hans Haacke, William Wegman, Kate Shepherd, Zoe Leonard, Jack Pierson, Lawrence Weiner, Pat Steir, Thomas Woodruff and over 1450 others.

There will be a Preview Party Friday, January 6 from 6 – 8 p.m. The Benefit Sale of postcard-sized art begins on Saturday, January 7th from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and continues through Sunday, January 8th from Noon until 4 p.m.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit VisualAIDS.

Turner Prize 2011, George Shaw

Posted in Art, art criticism, artist statement, artists, contests, Painting, Tate, video by petercombe on October 20, 2011

Ai Weiwei and the Five Finger Discount

Posted in appropriation, Art, auction, China, Conceptual Art, illustration, London, Painting, Sculpture by petercombe on July 19, 2011

Detail of Ai Wei Wei sunflower seeds from the Tate Modern in London

For the eleventh commission in the Tate Modern‘s Unilever Series, Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei had filled the museum’s Turbine Hall with millions of life-sized sunflower seed husks made out of porcelain. The collective effort of a number of specialists from Jingdezhen, China, the hand-crafted seeds were individually formed and painted. Before the museum was alerted to the installation’s dangers of lead paint and silica dust, visitors were encouraged to touch and walk on the carpet of tiny replicates. Before a barrier was erected around the perimeter of the installation, I wondered how many visitors were tempted to pilfer samples of the tiny seeds (see photo above). In February of this year Sotheby’s Contemporary Art Evening sale in London surpassed the $192,000 estimate, netting $559,394 for a 100-kilogram pile of Weiwei’s seeds. That puts worth of the stolen seeds pictured above at about $33.60.

Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds

Posted in Art, China, Installation, Painting, Sculpture, video by petercombe on April 8, 2011

‘Ai Weiwei: Sunflower Seeds’ video is beautiful and moving. It sheds light on the thought process behind the project, part of The Unilever Series at Tate Modern, UK. The porcelain seeds were made in a town called Jingdezhen. All 100 million porcelain seed husks were produced by craftspeople, many of whom had previous to Weiwei’s employment, gone bankrupt.

I saw the installation during a recent trip to London, but was saddened that previous to my visit, viewers were no longer able to walk amongst the display due to hazardous toxins. The tons of porcelain seeds were kicking up a fine ceramic dust, easily breathed into the lungs of art aficionados. Visitors can now only gaze at Ai’s piece from a cordoned off observation deck.

Ai has not been heard from since he was seized on April 3 at Beijing airport about to board a flight to Hong Kong. The U.S. and EU have protested his detention.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s call for the Release of Ai WeiWei >

Tate Modern’s message via @robbiesharp >

Collector Sues Gagosian Gallery for Selling Him a Painting Partially Owned by Met

Posted in Art, new york times, Painting by petercombe on March 11, 2011

Mark TanseyThe Innocent Eye Test, 1981, 78 x 120″

Mark Tansey’s 1981 painting “The Innocent Eye Test,” a crisply realistic rendering of a bunch of experts showing a live cow a crisply realistic portrait of a couple of other cows, has long been seen as a hilarious send-up of the art world.

But the painting is now the subject of an art-world dispute that has none of the combatants amused. A British collector who lives in Monaco, Robert Wylde, filed suit Thursday in federal court in Manhattan against the Gagosian Gallery, contending that the gallery sold the painting to Mr. Wylde in 2009 without telling him that the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where the work had once been on display, already owned 31 percent of it and had been promised by its longtime owners that the museum would eventually get the whole thing.


Sea Hyun Lee, Between Reds

Posted in Art, London, Oil on canvas, Painting by petercombe on September 16, 2010
Sea Hyun Lee, Between Red-46, 2008, Oil on Canvas, 200 x 200 cm


Sea Hyun Lee, Between Red-39, 2008, Oil on Canvas, 200 x 200 cm


Sea Hyun Lee, Between Red-37, 2008, Oil on Canvas, 200 x 200 cm


Sea Hyun Lee’s paintings combine elements of both the North and South Korean mountains.  I like the way Lee borrows the characteristics of Toile de Jouy in his paintings, all are infused with a sophisticated sense of nostalgia, and a wry idea of utopia. Haunting and politically charged with an element of the subversive lurking just beneath the surface. His work depicts the political stress apparent between the two countries in the most subtle of ways.


Peter Combe, James Marshall’s Haas Atrium at SFMOMA

Posted in architecture, Art, Painting, Photography by petercombe on July 13, 2010


Kerry James Marshall; Visible Means of Support: Mount Vernon, 2009; acrylic latex on canvas, (photos, Peter Combe, 2010)


Specially commissioned for SFMOMA, Kerry James Marshall’s monumental murals in the Haas Atrium show Mount Vernon and Monticello, the estates of American presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Although these cherished sites have been depicted countless times, Marshall’s paintings stand apart by incorporating images of the slaves who supported plantation life. At first glance, a number of optical tricks conceal them from view, but visitors who engage in the artist’s visual game will discover figures that are so often omitted from representations of American history.


I shot these photos on a recent visit to SFMOMA. The museum’s interior has the most interesting architectural vantage points that never cease to offer interesting photographic compositions.

Haas Atrium >


Valerie Hegarty

Posted in Art, Painting by petercombe on May 31, 2010

Valerie Hegarty, Rothko Sunset, 2007, Foamcore, canvas, paper, paint, glue, wire, tape, sand, gel medium, 42 x 32 x 8″


Valerie Hegarty, View from Thanatopsis, 2007, Installation view, Museum 52, London, England


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Carbon 12, Dubai

Posted in Art, Collage, Dubai, Painting by petercombe on May 13, 2010
Annabel Emson, Happiness, Oil on Canvas, 2008, 182×152 cm


Bernard Garnicnig, Spectrum, OCE print on aluminum, 2008, Edition 1/3, 150×150 cm



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