New York - Christie’s is pleased to present a special exhibition of contemporary video art by Bill Viola and Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation from January 26-29 as a highlight of Old Masters Week at Christie’s in Rockefeller Center. Sussman’s 2005 film The Rape of the Sabine Women and Viola’s 2002 installation The Last Angel, take their inspiration from the same mythical subject matter that inspired the great masters of European Art, including Leonardo da Vinci, Giambologna, Nicolas Poussin, Peter Paul Rubens and Jacques-Louis David, among others. This juxtaposition of two powerful contemporary video installations alongside the works of their predecessors promises to create a unique viewing opportunity for connoisseurs at all levels and to create new opportunities for dialogue about art across the centuries. The four-day, free video exhibition will coincide with the public preview of Christie’s Old Masters Week sales, the annual week-long series of public previews and auctions devoted to the best of European Art from the 14th to 19th centuries.
ABOUT THE SPECIAL EXHIBITION : NEW MEDIA |OLD MASTERS
Today, overloaded with an abundance of visual stimulation throughout our daily lives, the simple power of an image is in danger of becoming diminished. Like their Renaissance antecedents, the current generation of contemporary artists is developing a new visual language that builds on the traditions of the past whilst giving voice to their own present-day artistic concerns. Led by Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation and Bill Viola, these artists weave together strands of myth, emotion and drama to produce visual narrative of stunning complexity and beauty.
- The Rape of the Sabine Women is a feature length allegorical film loosely based on the myth of the founding of Rome, in which women from the neighboring Sabine tribe were kidnapped in order to propagate future generations of Romans. Created with Rufus Corporation, the company Sussman founded in 2003, the film re-contextualizes the myth, setting it in the 1960s and casting the Sabine women as butcher’s daughters and the Romans as G-men. The film, conceived in an operatic five act structure, is set in five locations with clear metaphorical, psychological and historical implications: the Pergamon museum, Tempelhof Airport, the Athens meat market, a Case-Study style modern summer house, and the Herodion Theatre where the final fight choreography culminates. Famously treated by Nicolas Poussin in the 1630s (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Musée du Louvre, Paris), by Jacques-Louis David in 1799 (Musée du Louvre, Paris), and by Edgar Degas in the 1860s (Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena), the subject is a touchstone in European art for the principles of classical design and storytelling, with compositions of the purest formal elegance and clarity relating a tale of chaos and sexual violence.
- Bill Viola’s The Last Angel is a ten-minute meditation on spirituality. Projected lengthways on a large plasma screen, the cryptic and hypnotic imagery depicts the lazy flow of water at the top of the frame, much like clouds scudding across the sky. While we are being mesmerized by this slow-motion imagery, eventually some bubbles start to collect at the bottom of the screen. In the final moments of this looped video, a fully-clothed angel emerges, plunging upwards through the shadowy underwater realm, creating a poetic visual experience. His sudden arrival hauntingly evokes innumerable Renaissance depictions of divine visitations, visions and resurrections, with a beautiful, startling immediacy.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation incorporates film, video, installation, sculpture, and photography into her work, and focuses on the visual interaction of the viewer and their surroundings. Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation creates films that break the mold and test the viewer’s expectations, translating well known masterworks into large scale re-enactments.
Bill Viola is considered a pioneer in bringing video installation to the fine art world. He has traveled the world filming cultural performances and natural sounds. These travels have greatly influenced his video and sound installations; which explore human emotions and his interest in Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism and Christian mysticism.
OLD MASTERS WEEK AT CHRISTIE’S
Old Masters Week, the highly-anticipated annual series devoted to the best of European Art from the 14th through 19th centuries, takes place from 26-31 January at Christie’s in Rockefeller Center. This year, the series includes major sales of Old Master Paintings and Old Master Drawings, as well as two exciting additional sales: Renaissance, a curated sale of paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture that includes masterpieces by Fra Bartolommeo, Agnolo Bronzino, and Sandro Botticelli; and Albrecht Dürer – Masterpieces from a Private Collection, a dedicated sale of the most important prints by the artist to come to auction in recent history. Each of the five sales of Old Masters Week will offer artworks of outstanding quality, rarity, and provenance for collectors of all tastes and levels.
29 January | Albrecht Dürer – Masterpieces from a Private Collection
30 January | Old Master Paintings Part 1
30 January | Renaissance
31 January | Old Master & Early British Drawings & Watercolors
31 January | Old Master Paintings Part 2
Christie’s, the world's leading art business, had global auction, private and digital sales in 2018 that totalled £5.3 billion / $7 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and international expertise. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery.
Alongside regular sales online, Christie’s has a global presence in 46 countries, with 10 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zürich, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
*Please note when quoting estimates above that other fees will apply in addition to the hammer price - see Section D of the Conditions of Sale at the back of the sale catalogue.
*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are reported net of applicable fees.