New York, USA
"Visiting one of his stores in Milan three years ago, Gap's visual creative director, Stephen Brady, walked past a gallery where something caught his eye: a painting of a buff, dark-haired man tearing his white T-shirt off. It was an exuberant piece, with photorealistic detail outlining abs, biceps and the shades of the shirt - perfect, he thought, for their new flagship store in Rome. He commissioned one with the gallerist that day. What Brady didn't know was that it was a finger painting. Paolo Troilo, the 40-year-old Italian painter who stopped Brady, creates huge self-portraits using his hands instead of paintbrushes. A rising star in Italy, his work has been shown at major galleries across Europe and was included in the 2012 Venice Biennale. Brady commissioned him to do a piece for the Gap flagship store's launch party. This Wednesday, Troilo will have his American debut at the San Francisco design district's Coup d'Etat, an 8,500-square-foot antiques showroom. "Gap is kind of known for the white T-shirt, so I knew immediately his work would be perfect for the party," Brady said. "I told him to go with the image of male mannequins in tight T-shirts." The piece Troilo painted was an emotional, raw painting of three men (all self-portraits) struggling to pull off their T-shirts. "When he was painting, I watched the progress from top to bottom - and as he got lower and lower, I thought, 'Oh man, I'm going to lose my job!' " said Brady, from his Embarcadero corner office. "It's erotic, sure, but there's classicism to his work - you see similar celebration of strength in Michelangelo's work as well." Troilo's work became the talk of the Gap party and beyond. When Brady came back, he told his friend Darin Geise about it. "I saw the video of him painting with his hands and just got chills," said Geise, who owns Coup d'Etat. "I put his work as my screen saver and kept it there for years. And then, finally, I was like, 'Stephen, let's do a show.' " Geise had never hosted a show in the showroom. He and Brady went to Piccino in Dogpatch to discuss it over dinner. "The more we drank, the more we fantasized about doing a show. And the next day, Stephen called Paolo, which is so Stephen; he just gets things done." Brady had kept in touch over e-mail with Troilo, having conversations on everything from family to the meaning of art, and knew his star was rising fast. "We were worried he would choose L.A. or New York for his debut," Geise said. "We're very, very lucky." The show will probably sell out; many of the pieces sold months before the opening. Troilo came to California for the first time in February for a promotional photo shoot and to meet Brady and Geise. "Paolo is very good looking - even better looking in person. And he's charming," said Geise. "He just has no idea what all this is about; he's not full of himself." Troilo seemed amused at all the recent commotion around his work. "I know Gap. My kids wear Gap. I love it, but I never worked for the brand reason," he said. "I went for the man, for the discussions about life, painting, emotion. That's why it is in San Francisco." His method is unique, especially given the photorealistic quality of his work. He dips his fingers into jars of black and ivory acrylic paint and works quickly - by the end of some videos (he is something of a YouTube star), he has paint up to his elbows. "I paint my body with my body. I paint myself with myself," he said. And, though his styles differ through time, he keeps coming back to the image of a man struggling against a white T-shirt. "The shirt keeps our head down, rules keep our creativity down. Every day, we fight to make our heads go like a balloon up, to enjoy that space that we don't usually see."" By Nellie Bowles
The United States on Thursday returned an oil painting by Pablo Picasso that was reported stolen from a major Paris museum 14 years ago. "The Hairdresser," which Picasso created in Paris in 1911 during his cubism period, was seized by US customs agents in New Jersey. Valued at $15 million, it was authenticated in January by experts from the Centre Georges Pompidou museum, its previous home. "Picasso used to say: 'A painting truly exists in the eyes of the beholder'," said Frederic Dore, deputy chief of mission at the French embassy in Washington, where the painting was formally returned to France. Once back in the French capital, the diplomat said, it will "come back to life" and return to public view after careful restoration "thanks to this outstanding Franco-American customs cooperation." The painting had been listed on Interpol's database of stolen works of art since it was reported stolen from the Centre Pompidou's archives in 2001. It had last been displayed in Munich, Germany in 1998 -- and no one is clear on where it has been since. US customs agents came across it during a targeted inspection in Newark, New Jersey, just outside New York, in December 2014. Wrapped as a parcel sent from Belgium, it bore a shipping label that claimed it was a mere $30 handicraft, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said. "We are committed to extracting stolen cultural property from the grasp of the black market and restoring it to its rightful owners," said Kelly Currie, the US federal attorney for the eastern district of New York. "The Hairdresser" entered the Centre Pompidou's collection in 1967, donated by French art collector Georges Salles, who specialized in works of cubism. It had previously belonged to French art dealer Ambroise Vollard, who played major role in promoting Picasso and other early 20th century artists. Picasso died in France in 1973 at the age of 91, leaving behind a vast and influential body of work including paintings, sculptures and ceramics.
"A midcentury mosaic forgotten for years beneath metal paneling on a Midtown Manhattan office building is now restored and on permanent public view. Created by Max Spivak in the late 1950s, the mosaic mural at 5 Bryant Park depicts abstractions of garment industry tools soaring in a field of golden, hand-cut glass tile. Back in March, David W. Dunlap reported for the New York Times that the mosaic at West 40th Street and Sixth Avenue was suddenly uncovered. For over a decade it was hidden by a metal façade. Soon after the article was published, the about 40-foot-by-18-foot mosaic was lost again, shrouded with blue tarps. Luckily, despite the brief chance for preservation attention, the Blackstone Group and Equity Office, which owns the office building, paid for craftsman Stephen Miotto to restore the mosaic. Dunlap reported last week that as of Friday, the mosaic is again revealed, this time for good. A 1957 photograph from the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institution shows Spivak leaning against the mosaic just to the left of his signature. The Bryant Park area was once central to the garment industry, and workers might have recognized the whimsical depictions of a T-square, set square, patterns, and other tools suggested by the forms. Spivak, born in Poland, studied at Cooper Union and later with the Works Progress Administration in the late 1930s began public mosaic mural work, which he continued with commissions into the 1950s and ’60s. While the 5 Bryant Park mosaic is all tesserae — hand-cut cubes of glass tile — in other mosaics he mixed in less illustrious materials like steel washers, pebbles, and stray finds from beach combing. Spivak died in 1981, and although some of his mosaic murals in New York City were lost, others survive. At 104th Street and Broadway, a 1947 mosaic column is outside Ben & Jerry’s (originally commissioned for Riker’s restaurant). His “Central Park as Refuge” from 1962 gleams with a park scene on the wall of PS 84 at 32 West 92nd Street, and at Flushing International High School in Queens his “Tools of Education” from 1956 also endures. In an 1963 interview with Harlan Phillips for the Archives of American Art, Spivak called the mosaic “a Byzantine medium,” where too often people “imitated painting and made it dark and light instead of getting the nuances, the play.” He added that what he did “was to encourage the medium itself using the modern medium of scintillation, of vibration, instead of light to dark.” In the 5 Bryant Park mosaic, the luminous mix of colors, the buoyant abstract shapes, and the lightness of the glass material all contribute to a feeling of airy movement, again brightening the street after years in the dark." By Allison Meier
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Bench: 102 x 16 /In
Art: [art work wale dimensions]